Sensing sound: Cellular specializations and molecular force sensors

Neuron. 2022 Nov 16;110(22):3667-3687. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2022.09.018. Epub 2022 Oct 11.


Organisms of all phyla express mechanosensitive ion channels with a wide range of physiological functions. In recent years, several classes of mechanically gated ion channels have been identified. Some of these ion channels are intrinsically mechanosensitive. Others depend on accessory proteins to regulate their response to mechanical force. The mechanotransduction machinery of cochlear hair cells provides a particularly striking example of a complex force-sensing machine. This molecular ensemble is embedded into a specialized cellular compartment that is crucial for its function. Notably, mechanotransduction channels of cochlear hair cells are not only critical for auditory perception. They also shape their cellular environment and regulate the development of auditory circuitry. Here, we summarize recent discoveries that have shed light on the composition of the mechanotransduction machinery of cochlear hair cells and how this machinery contributes to the development and function of the auditory system.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hair Cells, Auditory* / physiology
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular* / physiology
  • Sound


  • Ion Channels