Frequency tuning in the cochlea is determined by the passive mechanical properties of the basilar membrane and active feedback from the outer hair cells, sensory-effector cells that detect and amplify sound-induced basilar membrane motions. The sensory hair bundles of the outer hair cells are imbedded in the tectorial membrane, a sheet of extracellular matrix that overlies the cochlea's sensory epithelium. The tectorial membrane contains radially organized collagen fibrils that are imbedded in an unusual striated-sheet matrix formed by two glycoproteins, alpha-tectorin (Tecta) and beta-tectorin (Tectb). In Tectb(-/-) mice the structure of the striated-sheet matrix is disrupted. Although these mice have a low-frequency hearing loss, basilar-membrane and neural tuning are both significantly enhanced in the high-frequency regions of the cochlea, with little loss in sensitivity. These findings can be attributed to a reduction in the acting mass of the tectorial membrane and reveal a new function for this structure in controlling interactions along the cochlea.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Feb 2007|
- sharpened cochlear tuning
- genetically modified tectorial membrane
- neural pathways