When stimulated strongly, a hair cell's mechanically sensitive hair bundle may consume ATP too rapidly for replenishment by diffusion. To provide a broad view of the bundle's protein complement, including those proteins participating in energy metabolism, we used shotgun mass spectrometry methods to identify proteins of purified chicken vestibular bundles. In addition to cytoskeletal proteins, proteins involved in Ca2+ regulation, and stress-response proteins, many of the most abundant bundle proteins that were identified by mass spectrometry were involved in ATP synthesis. After β-actin, the cytosolic brain isoform of creatine kinase was the next most abundant bundle protein; at ∼0.5 mM, creatine kinase is capable of maintaining high ATP levels despite 1 mM/s ATP consumption by the plasma-membrane Ca2+-ATPase. Consistent with this critical role in hair bundle function, the creatine kinase circuit is essential for high-sensitivity hearing as demonstrated by hearing loss in creatine kinase knockout mice.
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