Morphological Basis for a Mechanical Linkage in Otolithic Receptor Transduction in the Frog

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Science  22 Oct 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4007, pp. 416-419
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4007.416


Observations made with a scanning electron microscope confirm the binding of the stereocilia to a matchhead-like bulbous terminal at the apex of the kinocilium in frog saccular receptor cells. Since the kinocilium is shown to rest on a portion of the receptor cell that lacks the rigid cuticular base of the stereocilia, movenment of the ciliary ensemble results in a "plunging-like" effect of the kinocilium which produces a distension of the membranc at its base. This membrane distension is envisaged as bringing about the ionic conductance changes necessary for the production of a generator potential and, thus, for the transduction of movement into vestibular nerve activity.