Robert Fettiplace

Position title: Ph.D., 1974, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England


Phone: (608) 262-9320

Research Interests:
Mechanisms of mechanotransduction and frequency tuning in auditory hair cells
Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1990)
Steenbock Professor of Neural Sciences, UW-Madison (1991-2010)
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2012)
Kavli Prize in Neuroscience (2018)
Fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences (2018)
Passano Award for medical research, Johns Hopkins University (2019)
Horwitz prize for biology, Columbia University (2020)

Robert Fettiplace

My research focuses on the physiology of hair cells isolated from the inner ear and studied with patch clamp recording and optical imaging. This research has provided descriptions of the mechanosensory transduction mechanism, the membrane channels involved in frequency tuning, and the regulatory roles of intracellular calcium. My current interest lies with the outer hair cells of the mammalian cochlea, the mechanotransducer channels and the mechanism of force generation by the stereociliary bundle that may underlie amplification and tuning of the auditory signal.

Scanning electron micrographs

Figure: (A) Scanning electron micrographs of the stereociliary bundles of rat cochlear inner (top) and outer hair cells; scale bar = 2.6 mm (top) and 2.0 mm (bottom). (B) Single mechanotransducer channels evoked by deflections of the stereociliary bundle of an inner hair cell. The unitary conductance is about 200 pS (see Beurg et al. 2006).

Selected Publications

  • Fettiplace, R. (2020) Diverse mechanisms of sound frequency discrimination in the vertebrate cochlea. Trends in Neuroscience 43:88-102.  (Fettiplace, 2020)
  • Beurg M, Barlow A, Furness, DN & Fettiplace R. (2019) A Tmc1 mutation reduces the Ca2+ permeability and stereociliary expression of the mechanoelectrical transduction channel in cochlear hair cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 116:20743-20749.
  • Beurg M, Cui R, Goldring AC, Ebrahim S, Fettiplace R & Kachar B. (2018) Variable number of TMC1-dependent mechanotransducer channels underlies tonotopic conductance gradients in the cochlea. Nature Comm. 9:2185.
  • Fettiplace, R. (2017) Hair cell transduction, tuning and synaptic transmission in the mammalian cochlea. Comprehensive Physiology (American Physiological Society) 7:1197-1227.  (Fettiplace, 2017)
  • Beurg, M., Goldring, A.C., Ricci, A.J. & Fettiplace, R. (2016) Development and localization of reverse-polarity mechanotransducer channels in cochlear hair cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 113: 6767-6772.
  • Beurg, M., Goldring, A.C. & Fettiplace, R. (2015) The effects of Tmc1 Beethoven mutation on mechanotransducer channel function in cochlear hair cells.  J Gen. Physiology 146: 233-243.
  • Beurg, M., Xiong, W., Zhao, B., Müller, U. & Fettiplace, R. (2015) Subunit determination of the conductance of hair-cell mechanotransducer channels. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.112: 1589-94.
  • Fettiplace, R. & Kim, K.X.  (2014) The physiology of mechano-electrical transduction channels in hearing. Physiological Reviews 94:951-986.
  • Kim, K.X. & Fettiplace, R. (2013) Developmental changes in the hair cell mechanotransducer channel and their regulation by transmembrane channel-like proteins J Gen Physiol 141:141-148.
  • Tan, X., Beurg, M., Hackney C., Mahendrasingam, S. & Fettiplace, R (2013) Electrical tuning and transduction in short hair cells of the chicken auditory papilla. J Neurophysiol. 109:2007-2020.
  • Beurg, M., Tan, X., & Fettiplace, R. (2013) A prestin motor in chicken auditory hair cells: active force generation in a non-mammalian species. Neuron 79:69-81.
  • Nam, J-H. & Fettiplace, R. (2012) The correct electrical properties for outer hair cells are essential for cochlear amplification PLoS One 7(11): e50572.
  • Johnson, S.L, Beurg, M., Marcotti, W. & Fettiplace, R (2011) Prestin-driven cochlear amplification is not limited by the outer hair cell membrane time constant. Neuron 70:1143-1154.
  • Beurg, M., Nam, J-H. Chen, Q. & Fettiplace, R (2010) Calcium balance and mechano-transduction in rat cochlear hair cells. J Neurophysiol 104, 18-34.
  • Beurg, M., Fettiplace R, Nam, J-H & Ricci A.J. (2009) Localization of inner hair cell mechanotransducer channels using high speed calcium imaging. Nature Neurosci 12:553-558.