The extraordinary acuity of mammalian hearing critically depends on active cochlear amplification through ultrafast somatic length changes of outer hair cells. Because these length changes are driven by membrane potential variations, sensitivity directly relies on ultrafast sound-induced receptor potentials. In outer hair cells, such potential changes are facilitated by the unique voltage-dependence of the potassium current IK,n that activates at extremely negative membrane potentials.
KCNQ4 (Kv7.4) K+ channel subunits have been identified as molecular components of IK,n. However, sole contribution of KCNQ4 does not explain the properties of the native current. Probably, yet unknown interaction partners of KCNQ4 produce IK,n in outer hair cells. We present a research project based on a targeted candidate approach to elucidate the molecular constituents of IK,n.
A Priority Project of