Anion control of voltage sensing by the motor protein prestin in outer hair cells

Biophys J. 2008 Nov 1;95(9):4439-47. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.108.134197. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


The outer hair cell from Corti's organ possesses voltage-dependent intramembranous molecular motors evolved from the SLC26 anion transporter family. The motor, identified as prestin (SLC26a5), is responsible for electromotility of outer hair cells and mammalian cochlear amplification, a process that heightens our auditory responsiveness. Here, we describe experiments designed to evaluate the effects of anions on the motor's voltage-sensor charge movement, focusing on prestin's voltage-dependent Boltzmann characteristics. We find that the nature of the anion, including species, valence, and structure, regulates characteristics of the charge movement, signifying that anions play a more complicated role than simple voltage sensing in cochlear amplification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonates / metabolism
  • Alkanesulfonates / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Chlorine / metabolism
  • Chlorine / pharmacology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / drug effects*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Space / drug effects
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Alkanesulfonates
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Pres protein, Cavia porcellus
  • Proteins
  • Chlorine