By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Cochlear Hair Cells are tuned to respond to different sound frequencies. These cells are arrayed in a tonotopic gradient, with low frequency responders at the apical end of the cochlea and high frequency responders at the basal end. Birds and reptiles uses alternative splicing of BK Channel as one facet of tuning these hair cells to transduce different sound frequencies. Isolation of cochlear cell mRNA has revealed that each cell expresses a different subset of BK Channel mRNA. BK channels (aka Slo channels) are tuned via alternative splicing of α subunit exons, thereby controlling regulatory properties, conductance and voltage sensitivity of the channel. BK Channels are present in muscle tissue and in the cochlea.