Physiological recordings from zebrafish lateral-line hair cells and afferent neurons

Josef G. Trapani, Teresa Nicolson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Sensory signal transduction, the process by which the features of external stimuli are encoded into action potentials, is a complex process that is not fully understood. In fish and amphibia, the lateral-line organ detects water movement and vibration and is critical for schooling behavior and the detection of predators and prey. The lateral-line system in zebrafish serves as an ideal platform to examine encoding of stimuli by sensory hair cells. Here, we describe methods for recording hair-cell microphonics and activity of afferent neurons using intact zebrafish larvae. The recordings are performed by immobilizing and mounting larvae for optimal stimulation of lateral-line hair cells. Hair cells are stimulated with a pressure-controlled water jet and a recording electrode is positioned next to the site of mechanotransduction in order to record microphonics-extracellular voltage changes due to currents through hair-cell mechanotransduction channels. Another readout of the hair-cell activity is obtained by recording action currents from single afferent neurons in response to water-jet stimulation of innervated hair cells. When combined, these techniques make it possible to probe the function of the lateral-line sensory system in an intact zebrafish using controlled, repeatable, physiological stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-231
Number of pages13
JournalMethods in cell biology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Action currents
  • Afferent neuron
  • Auditory
  • Hair cell
  • Lateral-line
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Neuromast
  • Sensory system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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