Auditory hair cells are responsible for our ability to hear, and irreversible damage of these delicate sensory cells is the most common cause of deafness in the UK. My research focuses on the role of intracellular calcium in signal transduction in mammalian hair cells. Increases in intracellular calcium are involved in several important processes in mammalian hair cells and my lab focuses on its role in adaptation of the mechanotransducer current and in triggering of transmitter release.
The hair cell bundle is exquisitely sensitive to mechanical motion, with deflections of less than the diameter of an atom being sufficient to open transducer channels in vivo. We have used a fast piezo electric device to stimulate outer hair cell bundles and have studied the transducer current and itís calcium dependent adaptation during development and after the onset of hearing.