Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The ways in which cell architecture is modelled to meet cell function is a poorly understood facet of cell biology. To address this question, we have studied the cytoarchitecture of a cell with highly specialised organisation, the cochlear inner hair cell (IHC), using multiple hierarchies of three-dimensional (3D) electron microscopy analyses. We show that synaptic terminal distribution on the IHC surface correlates with cell shape, and the distribution of a highly organised network of membranes and mitochondria encompassing the infranuclear region of the cell. This network is juxtaposed to a population of small vesicles, which represents a potential new source of neurotransmitter vesicles for replenishment of the synapses. Structural linkages between organelles that underlie this organisation were identified by high-resolution imaging. Taken together, these results describe a cell-encompassing network of membranes and mitochondria present in IHCs that support efficient coding and transmission of auditory signals. Such techniques also have the potential for clarifying functionally specialised cytoarchitecture of other cell types.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date





2529 - 2540


3D electron microscopy, Inner hair cell, Intracellular membranes, Synapse, Animals, Guinea Pigs, Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Mice, Microscopy, Electron, Synaptic Transmission, Synaptic Vesicles