Professor Walter Marcotti
Professor of Sensory Neuroscience
Room: B1 221 Alfred Denny building
Brief career history
Awards and prizes
Auditory neuroscience and Deafness Sensory transduction Synaptic transmission
Sensory organs and the neural networks responsible for processing sensory information are supremely well adapted for detecting input from the external environment. Their challenge is to maximize sensitivity and fidelity over a wide dynamic range. The sensory receptors of the mammalian auditory system, the inner hair cells (IHCs), do this with unparalleled temporal precision (kHz range). We know little about the molecular and physiological mechanisms controlling the functional maturation of the auditory system or signal processing at the primary auditory synapses, the IHC ribbon synapses. Crucial to this work, is the need of near-physiological in vitro and the development of in vivo experimental models.
My laboratory is uniquely suited for this task because it is the only one in the world that routinely uses near-physiological conditions for in vitro mammalian cochlear physiology and performs in-vivo electrophysiology from the zebrafish. How biological systems orchestrate their development and how complex signals are processed by mature neuronal networks are major challenges in the quest to understand human biology and disease.
The auditory system provides an ideal model with which to address these questions, primarily because it involves a highly ordered array of a very small number of sensory cells with well-defined neuronal circuitry. It is also a key priority for human health because hearing loss affects more than 360 million people worldwide (WHO 2013), a number that will increase with the aging population.
Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules
- Coordinated calcium signalling in cochlear sensory and non‐sensory cells refines afferent innervation of outer hair cells. The EMBO Journal, 38(9), e99839-e99839.
- The coupling between Ca2+ channels and the exocytotic Ca2+ sensor at hair cell ribbon synapses varies tonotopically along the mature cochlea.. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(9), 2471-2484. View this article in WRRO
- Connexin-Mediated Signaling in Nonsensory Cells Is Crucial for the Development of Sensory Inner Hair Cells in the Mouse Cochlea.. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(2), 258-268. View this article in WRRO
- In vivo physiological recording from the lateral line of juvenile zebrafish.. Journal of Physiology, 594(19), 5427-5438. View this article in WRRO
- Tmc1 Point Mutation Affects Ca2+ Sensitivity and Block by Dihydrostreptomycin of the Mechanoelectrical Transducer Current of Mouse Outer Hair Cells. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(2), 336-349. View this article in WRRO
- Calcium entry into stereocilia drives adaptation of the mechanoelectrical transducer current of mammalian cochlear hair cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(41), 14918-14923.
- Progressive hearing loss and gradual deterioration of sensory hair bundles in the ears of mice lacking the actin-binding protein Eps8L2.. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110(34), 13898-13903.