Hair-Bundle Friction from Transduction Channels' Gating Forces

V. Bormuth , J. Barral , J.F. Joanny , F. Juelicher , P. Martin

Bibtex , URL
DOI: 10.1063/1.4939318
ISSN: 0094-243X


Hearing starts when sound-evoked mechanical vibrations of the hair-cell bundle activate mechanosensitive ion channels, giving birth to an electrical signal. As for any mechanical system, friction impedes movements of the hair bundle and thus constrains the sensitivity and frequency selectivity of auditory transduction. We have shown recently that the opening and closing of the transduction channels produce internal frictional forces that can dominate viscous drag on the micrometer-sized hair bundle and thus provide a major source of damping {[}2]. We develop here a physical theory of passive hair-bundle mechanics that explains the origin of channel friction. We show that channel friction can be understood quantitatively by coupling the dynamics of the conformational change associated with channel gating to tip-link tension. As a result, varying channel properties affects friction, with faster channels producing smaller friction. The analysis emphasizes the dual role of transduction channels' gating forces, which affect both hair-bundle stiffness and drag. Friction originating from gating of ion channels is a general concept that is relevant to all mechanosensitive channels.