Nicolson Lab

Selective expression of tmc2a transcripts in hair cells of the larval inner ear. The TMC1/2 family members are important components of the mechanotransduction complex in hair cells.


Professor, Oregon Hearing Research Center: Teresa Nicolson

We are interested in the molecular basis of mechanotransduction and synaptic transmission in auditory/vestibular hair cells. To identify key players in these processes, we are studying zebrafish mutants with hearing and balance defects. The aim of our research is to determine gene function by examining the mutants at multiple levels, including the behavioral, cellular, and physiological levels. Another major goal is to provide animal models of human deafness.

Recently, we have concentrated our efforts on developing innovative ways of characterizing our mutants. These new techniques include quantitation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, measuring post-synaptic responses to mechanical stimulation of hair cells, and calcium imaging of hair-cell transients using localized genetic indicators. With these tools in hand, we are able to gain a better understanding of gene function and apply our findings to understanding the pathology of congenital deafness in humans.

Current Lab Members

Teresa Nicolson
Primary Investigator

Tim Erickson
Postdoctoral Fellow

Lisa Hayashi
Fish Facility Staff

Reo Maeda
Postdoctoral Fellow

Itallia Pacentine
Graduate Student

Leah Snyder
Research Assistant 2


Lab Phone Number



Mailing Address

Teresa Nicolson Lab
Oregon Health & Science University, Vollum Institute
Mail Code L-474
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Pk. Rd.
Portland, Oregon 97239

Ribbon synapses

Ribbons synapses in zebrafish hair cells.

Ribbon synapses in zebrafish hair cells. A, TEM micrograph of a ribbon synapse and innervating afferent fiber at the basolateral surface of a hair cell. B, High magnification view of a ribbon and the postsynaptic density (PSD). C, Labeling of ribbon synapses with anti-Ribeye b and MAGUK antibodies. m, mitochondria, n, nucleus, sc, supporting cell, sv, synaptic vesicle.