Cong Tian


BS, Ocean University of China 2004


My researches are focused on studying molecules and pathways that are important for the development and physiology of the ear. I am particularly interested in the structure within the cochlea which is called stria vascularis. The stria vascularis is located on the cochlear lateral wall and has three layers of cells. Marginal cells are the layer of cells that face endolymphatic space. Intermediate cells together with blood capillaries are located in the middle of stria vascularis. Basal cells are multiple layers of flat, interleaved cells that face the spiral ligament. Stria vascularis generate endocochlear potential, which is the positive voltage of 80-100mV seen in the endolymphatic space of the cochlea and is the major driving force for sensory transduction. Highly metabolically-active marginal cells have been considered as the major player in generating endocochlear potential. In the marginal cells, Na/K ATPases at the basalateral membrane allow electrogenic Na/K exchange; this will generate a positive intracellular potential and high K level within the marginal cell. Na and K permeabilities at the apical membrane were believed to allow the potential and ion content to be transmitted to the endolymphatic space. Our lab has identified a few mouse models with hearing loss that is caused by abnormal stria vascularis development and function. I will apply biochemical, molecular, and electrophysiology techniques to study these mouse models and explore the functions of associated molecules in the mouse stria vascularis.