Emilin 2 promotes the mechanical gradient of the cochlear basilar membrane and resolution of frequencies in sound

Ian J. Russell, Victoria A. Lukashkina, Snezana Levic, Snezana Levic, Young Wook Cho, Andrei N. Lukashkin, Lily Ng, Douglas Forrest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The detection of different frequencies in sound is accomplished with remarkable precision by the basilar membrane (BM), an elastic, ribbon-like structure with graded stiffness along the cochlear spiral. Sound stimulates a wave of displacement along the BM with maximal magnitude at precise, frequency-specific locations to excite neural signals that carry frequency information to the brain. Perceptual frequency discrimination requires fine resolution of this frequency map, but little is known of the intrinsic molecular features that demarcate the place of response on the BM. To investigate the role of BM microarchitecture in frequency discrimination, we deleted extracellular matrix protein emilin 2, which disturbed the filamentous organization in the BM. Emilin2-/- mice displayed broadened mechanical and neural frequency tuning with multiple response peaks that are shifted to lower frequencies than normal. Thus, emilin 2 confers a stiffness gradient on the BM that is critical for accurate frequency resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberEABA2634
JournalScience Advances
Volume6
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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