Auditory receptor cells rely on mechanically gated channels to transform sound stimuli into neural activity. Several TRP channels have been implicated in Drosophila auditory transduction, but mechanistic studies have been hampered by the inability to record subthreshold signals from receptor neurons. Here, we develop a non-invasive method for measuring these signals by recording from a central neuron that is electrically coupled to a genetically defined population of auditory receptor cells. We find that the TRPN family member NompC, which is necessary for the active amplification of sound-evoked motion by the auditory organ, is not required for transduction in auditory receptor cells. Instead, NompC sensitizes the transduction complex to movement and precisely regulates the static forces on the complex. In contrast, the TRPV channels Nanchung and Inactive are required for responses to sound, suggesting they are components of the transduction complex. Thus, transduction and active amplification are genetically separable processes in Drosophila hearing.
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