The present work seeks to advance quantitative understanding of semicircular canal biophysics and biomechanics and is organized around three specific aims: 1) Examine sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in vivo by tracking the time-course of expression in the cupula and extracellular space around stereocilia following mechanical and aminoglycoside insults. Inner ear GAGs are known to play essential roles in development, mechanics, regeneration, repair, and protection. Our experimental approach using new xyloside conjugates is revealing entirely new information about this important process. 2) Map the spatial distribution of hair bundle displacements across the sensory epithelium in response to physiological stimuli in vivo. The diverse temporal response properties of afferent neurons correlate with projections in the crista ampullaris, but we do not yet know how or if responses depend upon spatial maps of hair bundle displacements. We will measure micromechanical displacement fields while recording afferent responses innervating the same region of the crista. 3) Detail mechano-electrical transduction (MET) current adaptation and its relationship to active amplification by semicircular canal hair cells. Our recent results suggest that the most sensitive semicircular canal afferent neurons rely on hair cell amplification to increase sensitivity to low strength stimuli. We will investigate the role of MET adaptation and electrical mechanisms in this important process by tracking bundle displacements and recording from hair cells in vivo. Results are expected to have long-term impact by enhancing understanding of semicircular canal micromechanics, cupulogenesis and self-repair, amplification by hair cells, and efferent control of motion sensation by the brain.

Public Health Relevance

Disorders of the vestibular system are debilitating and common, afflicting approximately 30% of the population over the age of 65 (Schappert, 1994). The present application is directly relevant to the biomechanical and biophysical substrates underlying sensitivity of semicircular canals under both physiological and pathological conditions. Unique in vivo experimental techniques will be applied to examine cupulogenesis/self-repair, glycosaminoglycan expression following damage, micromechanics, hair cell amplification, and efferent control.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Auditory System Study Section (AUD)
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Cyr, Janet
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University of Utah
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Salt Lake City
United States
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Zhu, Hong; Tang, Xuehui; Wei, Wei et al. (2014) Input-output functions of vestibular afferent responses to air-conducted clicks in rats. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 15:73-86
Tran, Vy M; Kuberan, Balagurunathan (2014) Synthesis of fluorophore-tagged xylosides that prime glycosaminoglycan chains. Bioconjug Chem 25:262-8
Highstein, Stephen M; Holstein, Gay R; Mann, Mary Anne et al. (2014) Evidence that protons act as neurotransmitters at vestibular hair cell-calyx afferent synapses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:5421-6
Dharia, Sameera; Rabbitt, Richard D (2011) Monitoring voltage-dependent charge displacement of Shaker B-IR K+ ion channels using radio frequency interrogation. PLoS One 6:e17363
Dittami, Gregory M; Rajguru, Suhrud M; Lasher, Richard A et al. (2011) Intracellular calcium transients evoked by pulsed infrared radiation in neonatal cardiomyocytes. J Physiol 589:1295-306
Rajguru, Suhrud M; Richter, Claus-Peter; Matic, Agnella I et al. (2011) Infrared photostimulation of the crista ampullaris. J Physiol 589:1283-94
Rabbitt, Richard D; Boyle, Richard; Highstein, Stephen M (2010) Mechanical amplification by hair cells in the semicircular canals. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:3864-9
Rabbitt, Richard D; Breneman, Kathryn D; King, Curtis et al. (2009) Dynamic displacement of normal and detached semicircular canal cupula. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 10:497-509
Breneman, Kathryn D; Brownell, William E; Rabbitt, Richard D (2009) Hair cell bundles: flexoelectric motors of the inner ear. PLoS One 4:e5201
Boyle, Richard; Rabbitt, Richard D; Highstein, Stephen M (2009) Efferent control of hair cell and afferent responses in the semicircular canals. J Neurophysiol 102:1513-25

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