What role does the lipid bilayer play in modulating mechanotransduction response properties? Do bilayer mechanical properties alter force transfer to the mechanotransduction channel? Are there specific protein lipid interactions that underlie this force transfer?
The lipid bilayer has intrinsic mechanical properties based on which lipid components are present as well as the underlying interactions of lipids with membrane and cytoskeletal proteins. Alterations in lipids can affect hair cell mechanotransduction either directly by interacting with the proteins involved in the process or indirectly through the intrinsic mechanical properties of the bilayer. We are investigating lipid properties in multiple ways that include:
a) Pharmacologically removing or adding specific lipids to the stereocilia while measuring MET currents or lipid diffusivity.
b) Altering lipid-cytoskeletal interactions again while monitoring lipid diffusivity and MET currents.
c) Identifying specific lipid components of the stereocilia and their localization within these stereocilia.