Mukhopadhyay M, Pangrsic T
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Mol Cell Neurosci. 2022 Jun 3;121:103749.
A harmonized interplay between the central nervous system and the five peripheral end organs is how the vestibular system helps organisms feel a sense of balance and motion in three-dimensional space. The receptor cells of this system, much like their cochlear equivalents, are the specialized hair cells. However, research over the years has shown that the vestibular end organs and hair cells evolved very differently from their cochlear counterparts. The structurally unique calyceal synapse, which appeared much later in the evolutionary time scale, and continues to intrigue researchers, is now known to support several forms of synaptic neurotransmission. The conventional quantal transmission is believed to employ the ribbon structures, which carry several tethered vesicles filled with neurotransmitters. However, the field of vestibular hair cell synaptic molecular anatomy is still at a nascent stage and needs further work. In this review, we will touch upon the basic structure and function of the peripheral vestibular system, with the focus on the various modes of neurotransmission at the type I vestibular hair cells. We will also shed light on the current knowledge about the molecular anatomy of the vestibular hair cell synapses and vestibular synaptopathy.