A novel cholinergic receptor mediates inhibition of chick cochlear hair cells

P. A. Fuchs, B. W. Murrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


The central nervous system provides feedback regulation at several points within the peripheral auditory apparatus. One component of that feedback is inhibition of cochlear hair cells by release of acetylcholine (ACh) from efferent brainstem neurons. The mechanism of hair cell inhibition, and the character of the presumed cholinergic receptor, however, have eluded understanding. Both nicotinic and muscarinic, as well as some non-cholinergic ligands can affect the efferent action. We have made whole-cell, tight-seal recordings from short (outer) hair cells isolated from the chick's cochlea. These are the principal targets of cochlear efferents in birds. ACh hyperpolarizes short hair cells by opening a cation channel through which Ca2+ enters the cell and subsequently activates Ca2+-dependent K+ current (Fuchs and Murrow 1991, 1992). Both curare and atropine are effective antagonists of cholinergic inhibition at 3 μM, whereas trimethaphan camsylatey and strychnine blocke at 1μM. The normally irreversible nicotinic antagonist, α-bungarotoxin, reversibly blocked the hair cell response, as did κ-bungarotoxin. The half-blocking concentration for α-bungarotoxin, was 26 nM. It is proposed that the hair cell AChR is a ligand-gated cation channel related to the nicotinic receptor of nerve and muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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