Prestin is the motor protein of cochlear outer hair cells

Nature. 2000 May 11;405(6783):149-55. doi: 10.1038/35012009.


The outer and inner hair cells of the mammalian cochlea perform different functions. In response to changes in membrane potential, the cylindrical outer hair cell rapidly alters its length and stiffness. These mechanical changes, driven by putative molecular motors, are assumed to produce amplification of vibrations in the cochlea that are transduced by inner hair cells. Here we have identified an abundant complementary DNA from a gene, designated Prestin, which is specifically expressed in outer hair cells. Regions of the encoded protein show moderate sequence similarity to pendrin and related sulphate/anion transport proteins. Voltage-induced shape changes can be elicited in cultured human kidney cells that express prestin. The mechanical response of outer hair cells to voltage change is accompanied by a 'gating current', which is manifested as nonlinear capacitance. We also demonstrate this nonlinear capacitance in transfected kidney cells. We conclude that prestin is the motor protein of the cochlear outer hair cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Gene Expression
  • Gerbillinae
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / chemistry
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins* / drug effects
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sodium Salicylate / pharmacology
  • Sulfate Transporters
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transfection


  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Proteins
  • SLC26A4 protein, human
  • SLC26A5 protein, human
  • Sulfate Transporters
  • Sodium Salicylate

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF230376