Helical structure of hair cell stereocilia tip links in the chinchilla cochlea

V. Tsuprun, P. Santi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Outer-hair-cell stereocilia tip-link structure in the chinchilla cochlea was studied by transmission electron microscopy using tannic acid and Ruthenium red/Alcian blue histochemical procedures. Tannic acid and Ruthenium red/Alcian blue treatments showed the tip link as a compact strand of filaments 9-12 nm thick. Fourier analysis of tip-link images showed that the strand is a three-start helical bundle of fine, coiled filaments which had an axial period of 22.5 ± 1.5 nm. Each of three coiled filaments in the strand showed globular structures, 4.3 ± 0.3 nm in diameter. The globular structures may correspond to individual protein subunits or they may be repeating identical domains of one polypeptide. The three filaments of the helical array may provide a rigidity to the tip link during stereocilia deflections. Alternatively, changes in the subunit or domain structure of each filament may result in a lengthening or shortening of the tip-link strand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-231
Number of pages8
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Helical structure
  • Image analysis
  • Stereocilia
  • Tip link
  • Transmission electron microscopy


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