Plasmalemmal ATPase calcium pump localizes to inner and outer hair bundles. Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent studies demonstrate calcium ion influx at the tips of hair cell stereocilia during mechano-transduction. These ions must be either pumped from the cytosol into the extracellular space or endoplasmic envelope, or else sequestered by binding to specific proteins. A plasma membrane calcium pump (ATPase-type) was analysed in whole-mounts of rat organ of Corti using a monoclonal antibody to a large cytoplasmic loop of this protein. The reactivity was particularly high on the tips of longer stereocilia and was found along the shafts. Inner hair cell stereocilia had much less reactivity than outer hair cells. The reactivity lined the plasma membrane of inner hair cell bodies while a higher reactivity appeared in the cytoplasm of outer hair cells. Supporting cells were unreactive. Ultrastructural examination confirmed the plasma membrane calcium pump location on stereocilia and along the endolymph surface of receptor cells. Reaction product lined the plasma membrane of stereocilia as intense puncta. More reactive puncta occurred near the distal ends of stereocilia and the number decreased toward the ciliary base. The endolymph plasma membrane over the cuticular notch was especially reactive. The finding of more intense pump reactivity at the tips of stereocilia than the base is consistent with the hypothesis that during transduction, calcium ions enter stereocilia, distally, and the ATPase plasma membrane calcium pump rapidly extrudes these ions to the extracellular space.

publication date

  • August 1997