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Coupling of the mechanotransduction machinery and F-actin polymerization in the cochlear hair bundles
de Monvel, Jacques Boutet
Mechanoelectrical transduction (MET), the conversion of mechanical stimuli into electrical signals operated by the sensory cells of the inner ear, enables hearing and balance perception. Crucial to this process are the tip-links, oblique fibrous filaments that interconnect the actin-filled stereocilia of different rows within the hair bundle, and mechanically gate MET channels. In a recent study, we observed a complete regression of stereocilia from the short and medium but not the tall row upon the disappearance of the tip-links caused by the loss of one of their components, cadherin-23, or of one of their anchoring proteins, sans, in the auditory organs of engineered mutant mice. This indicates the existence of a coupling between the MET and F-actin polymerization machineries at the tips of the short and medium stereocilia rows in cochlear hair bundles. Here, we first present our findings in the mutant mice, and then discuss the possible effects of the tip-link tension on stereocilia F-actin polymerization, acting either directly or through Ca2+-dependent mechanisms that involve the gating of MET channels.
hair cell; hair bundle; stereocilia; mechanoelectrical transduction (MET); tip-link; sans protein; actin polymerization
Harmonin-b, an actin-binding scaffold protein, is involved in the adaptation of mechanoelectrical transduction by sensory hair cells
Lefèvre, Gaelle M.
van Aken, Alexander F. J.
Richardson, Guy P.
Kros, Corné J.
We assessed the involvement of harmonin-b, a submembranous protein containing PDZ domains, in the mechanoelectrical transduction machinery of inner ear hair cells. Harmonin-b is located in the region of the upper insertion point of the tip link that joins adjacent stereocilia from different rows and that is believed to gate transducer channel(s) located in the region of the tip link's lower insertion point. In Ush1cdfcr-2J/dfcr-2J mutant mice defective for harmonin-b, step deflections of the hair bundle evoked transduction currents with altered speed and extent of adaptation. In utricular hair cells, hair bundle morphology and maximal transduction currents were similar to those observed in wild-type mice, but adaptation was faster and more complete. Cochlear outer hair cells displayed reduced maximal transduction currents, which may be the consequence of moderate structural anomalies of their hair bundles. Their adaptation was slower and displayed a variable extent. The latter was positively correlated with the magnitude of the maximal transduction current, but the cells that showed the largest currents could be either hyperadaptive or hypoadaptive. To interpret our observations, we used a theoretical description of mechanoelectrical transduction based on the gating spring theory and a motor model of adaptation. Simulations could account for the characteristics of transduction currents in wild-type and mutant hair cells, both vestibular and cochlear. They led us to conclude that harmonin-b operates as an intracellular link that limits adaptation and engages adaptation motors, a dual role consistent with the scaffolding property of the protein and its binding to both actin filaments and the tip link component cadherin-23.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00424-009-0711-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Cochlea; Hair bundle; Vestibule; Harmonin; Mechanoelectrical transduction; Adaptation; Hair cell; Vestibular system
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