We have used whole-cell patch clamp techniques to record from tall hair cells isolated from the apical half of the alligator cochlea. Some of these cells gave action potentials in response to depolarizing current injections. When the same cells were voltage clamped, large transient inward currents followed by smaller outward currents were seen in response to depolarizing steps. We studied the transient inward current after the outward current had been blocked by external tetraethylammonium (20 mM) or by replacing internal potassium with cesium. It was found to be a sodium current because it was abolished by either replacing external sodium with choline or by external application of tetrodotoxin (100 nM). The sodium current showed voltage-dependent activation and inactivation. Most of the spiking hair cells came from the apex of the cochlea, where they would be subject to low-frequency mechanical stimulation in vivo.
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