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1.  Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Saarland, Germany: A Statewide Admission Prevalence Screening Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73876.
Background
The screening of hospital admission patients for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is of undisputed value in controlling and reducing the overall MRSA burden; yet, a concerted parallel universal screening intervention throughout all hospitals of an entire German Federal State has not yet been performed.
Methodology/Principal Findings
During a four-week period, all 24 acute care hospitals of the State of Saarland participated in admission prevalence screening. Overall, 436/20,027 screened patients revealed MRSA carrier status (prevalence, 2.2/100 patients) with geriatrics and intensive care departments associated with highest prevalence (7.6/100 and 6.3/100, respectively). Risk factor analysis among 17,975 admission patients yielded MRSA history (OR, 4.3; CI95 2.7–6.8), a skin condition (OR, 3.2; CI95 2.1–5.0), and/or an indwelling catheter (OR, 2.2; CI95 1.4–3.5) among the leading risks. Hierarchical risk factor ascertainment of the six risk factors associated with highest odd’s ratios would require 31% of patients to be laboratory screened to allow for detection of 67% of all MRSA positive admission patients in the State.
Conclusions/Significance
State-wide admission prevalence screening in conjunction with risk factor ascertainment yields important information on the distribution of the MRSA burden for hospitals, and allows for data-based decisions on local or institutional MRSA screening policies considering risk factor prevalence and expected MRSA identification rates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073876
PMCID: PMC3770647  PMID: 24040103
2.  Exome Sequencing and Linkage Analysis Identified Tenascin-C (TNC) as a Novel Causative Gene in Nonsyndromic Hearing Loss 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69549.
In this study, a five-generation Chinese family (family F013) with progressive autosomal dominant hearing loss was mapped to a critical region spanning 28.54 Mb on chromosome 9q31.3-q34.3 by linkage analysis, which was a novel DFNA locus, assigned as DFNA56. In this interval, there were 398 annotated genes. Then, whole exome sequencing was applied in three patients and one normal individual from this family. Six single nucleotide variants and two indels were found co-segregated with the phenotypes. Then using mass spectrum (Sequenom, Inc.) to rank the eight sites, we found only the TNC gene be co-segregated with hearing loss in 53 subjects of F013. And this missense mutation (c.5317G>A, p.V1773M ) of TNC located exactly in the critical linked interval. Further screening to the coding region of this gene in 587 subjects with nonsyndromic hearing loss (NSHL) found a second missense mutation, c.5368A>T (p. T1796S), co-segregating with phenotype in the other family. These two mutations located in the conserved region of TNC and were absent in the 387 normal hearing individuals of matched geographical ancestry. Functional effects of the two mutations were predicted using SIFT and both mutations were deleterious. All these results supported that TNC may be the causal gene for the hearing loss inherited in these families. TNC encodes tenascin-C, a member of the extracellular matrix (ECM), is present in the basilar membrane (BM), and the osseous spiral lamina of the cochlea. It plays an important role in cochlear development. The up-regulated expression of TNC gene in tissue repair and neural regeneration was seen in human and zebrafish, and in sensory receptor recovery in the vestibular organ after ototoxic injury in birds. Then the absence of normal tenascin-C was supposed to cause irreversible injuries in cochlea and caused hearing loss.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069549
PMCID: PMC3728356  PMID: 23936043
3.  Localization of Usher 1 proteins to the photoreceptor calyceal processes, which are absent from mice 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;199(2):381-399.
Mice are a poor model for retinal defects caused by type I Usher syndrome (USH1) because their photoreceptors have almost no calyceal processes, the structures in which all USH1 proteins are detected in other vertebrates.
The mechanisms underlying retinal dystrophy in Usher syndrome type I (USH1) remain unknown because mutant mice lacking any of the USH1 proteins—myosin VIIa, harmonin, cadherin-23, protocadherin-15, sans—do not display retinal degeneration. We found here that, in macaque photoreceptor cells, all USH1 proteins colocalized at membrane interfaces (i) between the inner and outer segments in rods and (ii) between the microvillus-like calyceal processes and the outer segment basolateral region in rods and cones. This pattern, conserved in humans and frogs, was mediated by the formation of an USH1 protein network, which was associated with the calyceal processes from the early embryonic stages of outer segment growth onwards. By contrast, mouse photoreceptors lacked calyceal processes and had no USH1 proteins at the inner–outer segment interface. We suggest that USH1 proteins form an adhesion belt around the basolateral region of the photoreceptor outer segment in humans, and that defects in this structure cause the retinal degeneration in USH1 patients.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201202012
PMCID: PMC3471240  PMID: 23045546
4.  Coupling of the mechanotransduction machinery and F-actin polymerization in the cochlear hair bundles 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(4):169-174.
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.
doi:10.4161/bioa.1.4.17532
PMCID: PMC3210516  PMID: 22069509
hair cell; hair bundle; stereocilia; mechanoelectrical transduction (MET); tip-link; sans protein; actin polymerization
5.  Stereocilin connects outer-hair-cell stereocilia to one another and to the tectorial membrane 
Stereocilin is defective in a recessive form of deafness, DFNB16. We studied the distribution of stereocilin in the developing and mature mouse inner ear and analyzed the consequences of its absence in stereocilin-null (Strc−/−) mice that suffer hearing loss starting at post-natal day 15 (P15) and progressing until P60. Using immunofluorescence and immunogold electron microscopy, stereocilin was detected in association with two cell surface specializations specific to outer hair cells (OHCs) in the mature cochlea: the horizontal top connectors that join the apical regions of adjacent stereocilia within the hair bundle, and the attachment links that attach the tallest stereocilia to the overlying tectorial membrane. Stereocilin was also detected around the kinocilium of vestibular hair cells and immature OHCs. In Strc−/− mice, the OHC hair bundle was structurally and functionally normal until P9. Top connectors, however, did not form and the cohesiveness of the OHC hair bundle progressively deteriorated from P10. The stereocilia were still interconnected by tip links at P14, but these progressively disappeared from P15. By P60, the stereocilia, still arranged in a V-shaped bundle, were fully disconnected from each other. Stereocilia imprints on the lower surface of the tectorial membrane were also not observed in Strc−/− mice, thus indicating that the tips of the tallest stereocilia failed to be embedded into this gel. We conclude that stereocilin is essential to the formation of horizontal top connectors. We propose that these links, which maintain the cohesiveness of the mature OHC hair bundle, are required for tip-link turn over.
doi:10.1002/cne.22509
PMCID: PMC3375590  PMID: 21165971
inner ear; cochlea; organ of Corti; hair-bundle cohesiveness; horizontal top connectors; attachment links
6.  Stereocilin-deficient mice reveal the origin of cochlear waveform distortions 
Nature  2008;456(7219):255-258.
Although the cochlea is an amplifier and a remarkably sensitive and finely tuned detector of sounds, it also produces conspicuous mechanical and electrical waveform distortions1. These distortions reflect non-linear mechanical interactions within the cochlea. By allowing one tone to suppress another (masking effect), they contribute to speech intelligibility2. Tones can also combine to produce sounds with frequencies not present in the acoustic stimulus3. These sounds compose the otoacoustic emissions that are extensively used to screen hearing in newborns. As both cochlear amplification and distortion originate from the outer hair cells, one of the two types of sensory receptor cells, it has been speculated that they stem from a common mechanism. Here, the non-linearity underlying cochlear waveform distortions is shown to rely on the presence of stereocilin, a protein defective in a recessive form of human deafness4. Stereocilin was detected in association with horizontal top connectors5-7, lateral links that join adjacent stereocilia within the outer hair cell’s hair bundle, and these links were absent in stereocilin-null mutant mice. These mice become progressively deaf. At the onset of hearing, however, their cochlear sensitivity and frequency tuning were almost normal, although masking was much reduced and both acoustic and electrical waveform distortions were completely lacking. From this unique functional situation, we conclude that the main source of cochlear waveform distortions is a deflection-dependent hair bundle stiffness resulting from constraints imposed by the horizontal top connectors, and not from the intrinsic non-linear behaviour of the mechanoelectrical transducer channel.
doi:10.1038/nature07380
PMCID: PMC3338146  PMID: 18849963
7.  LINKING DEAFNESS GENES TO HAIR-BUNDLE DEVELOPMENT AND FUNCTION 
Nature neuroscience  2009;12(6):703-710.
The identification of genes underlying monogenic, early-onset forms of deafness in humans has provided unprecedented insight into the molecular mechanisms of hearing in the peripheral auditory system. The molecules involved in the development and function of the cochlea eluded characterization until recently due to the paucity of the principle cell types present in cochlear hair cells, yet a genetic approach has circumvented this problem and succeeded in identifying proteins and deciphering some of the molecular complexes that operate in these cells . In combination with mouse models, the genetic approach is now revealing some of the principles underlying the development and physiology of the cochlea. The review centers on this facet of the genetics of hearing. Focusing on the hair bundle, the mechanosensory device of the sensory hair cell, we highlight recent advances in understanding the way in which the hair bundle is formed, how it operates as a mechanotransducer and how it processes sound. In particular, we discuss how this work highlights the roles played by various hair-bundle link types.
doi:10.1038/nn.2330
PMCID: PMC3332156  PMID: 19471269
8.  Probing the functional equivalence of otoferlin and synaptotagmin 1 in exocytosis 
Cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) use Ca2+-dependent exocytosis of glutamate to signal sound information. Otoferlin, a C2-domain protein essential for IHC exocytosis and hearing, may serve as a Ca2+ sensor in vesicle fusion in IHCs that seem to lack the classical neuronal Ca2+ sensors synaptotagmin 1 (Syt1) and 2. Support for the Ca2+ sensor of fusion hypothesis for otoferlin function comes from biochemical experiments, but additional roles in late exocytosis upstream of fusion have been indicated by physiological studies. Here, we tested the functional equivalence of otoferlin and Syt1 in three neurosecretory model systems: auditory IHCs, adrenal chromaffin cells and hippocampal neurons. Long-term and short-term ectopic expression of Syt1 in IHCs of Otof−/− mice by viral gene transfer in the embryonic inner ear and organotypic culture failed to rescue their Ca2+ influx-triggered exocytosis. On the other hand, virally mediated overexpression of otoferlin did not restore phasic exocytosis in Syt1-deficient chromaffin cells or neurons, but enhanced asynchronous release in the latter. We further tested exocytosis in Otof−/− hippocampal neurons and in Syt1−/− IHCs, but found no deficits in vesicle fusion. Expression analysis of different synaptotagmin isoforms indicated that Syt1 and Syt2 are absent from mature IHCs. Our data argue against a simple functional equivalence of the two C2 domain proteins in exocytosis of IHC ribbon synapses, chromaffin cells and hippocampal synapses.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5122-10.2011
PMCID: PMC3083821  PMID: 21451027
cochlea; hair cell; hippocampal neuron; synapse; chromaffin cell; in utero gene transfer
9.  Complete exon sequencing of all known Usher syndrome genes greatly improves molecular diagnosis 
Background
Usher syndrome (USH) combines sensorineural deafness with blindness. It is inherited in an autosomal recessive mode. Early diagnosis is critical for adapted educational and patient management choices, and for genetic counseling. To date, nine causative genes have been identified for the three clinical subtypes (USH1, USH2 and USH3). Current diagnostic strategies make use of a genotyping microarray that is based on the previously reported mutations. The purpose of this study was to design a more accurate molecular diagnosis tool.
Methods
We sequenced the 366 coding exons and flanking regions of the nine known USH genes, in 54 USH patients (27 USH1, 21 USH2 and 6 USH3).
Results
Biallelic mutations were detected in 39 patients (72%) and monoallelic mutations in an additional 10 patients (18.5%). In addition to biallelic mutations in one of the USH genes, presumably pathogenic mutations in another USH gene were detected in seven patients (13%), and another patient carried monoallelic mutations in three different USH genes. Notably, none of the USH3 patients carried detectable mutations in the only known USH3 gene, whereas they all carried mutations in USH2 genes. Most importantly, the currently used microarray would have detected only 30 of the 81 different mutations that we found, of which 39 (48%) were novel.
Conclusions
Based on these results, complete exon sequencing of the currently known USH genes stands as a definite improvement for molecular diagnosis of this disease, which is of utmost importance in the perspective of gene therapy.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-6-21
PMCID: PMC3125325  PMID: 21569298
10.  Control of Exocytosis by Synaptotagmins and Otoferlin in Auditory Hair Cells 
In pre-hearing mice, vesicle exocytosis at cochlear inner hair cell (IHC) ribbon synapses is triggered by spontaneous Ca2+ spikes. At the onset of hearing, IHC exocytosis is then exclusively driven by graded potentials, and is characterized by higher Ca2+ efficiency and improved synchronization of vesicular release. The molecular players involved in this transition are still unknown. Here we addressed the involvement of synaptotagmins and otoferlin as putative Ca2+ sensors in IHC exocytosis during postnatal maturation of the cochlea. Using cell capacitance measurements, we showed that Ca2+-evoked exocytosis in mouse IHCs switches from an otoferlin-independent to an otoferlin-dependent mechanism at postnatal day 4. During this early exocytotic period, several synaptotagmins (Syts), including Syt1, Syt2 and Syt7, were detected in IHCs. The exocytotic response as well as the release of the readily releasable vesicle pool (RRP) was, however, unchanged in newborn mutant mice lacking Syt1, Syt2 or Syt7 (Syt1−/−,Syt2−/− and Syt7−/− mice). We only found a defect in RRP recovery in Syt1−/− mice which was apparent as a strongly reduced response to repetitive stimulations. In post-hearing Syt2−/− and Syt7−/− mutant mice, IHC synaptic exocytosis was unaffected. The transient expression of Syt1 and Syt2, which were no longer detected in IHCs after the onset of hearing, indicates that these two most common Ca2+-sensors in CNS synapses are not involved in mature IHCs. We suggest that otoferlin underlies highly efficient Ca2+-dependent membrane-membrane fusion, a process likely essential to increase the probability and synchrony of vesicle fusion events at the mature IHC ribbon synapse.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2528-10.2010
PMCID: PMC3088501  PMID: 20926654
11.  Consortin, a trans-Golgi network cargo receptor for the plasma membrane targeting and recycling of connexins 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;19(2):262-275.
Targeting of numerous transmembrane proteins to the cell surface is thought to depend on their recognition by cargo receptors that interact with the adaptor machinery for anterograde traffic at the distal end of the Golgi complex. We report here on consortin, a novel integral membrane protein that is predicted to be intrinsically disordered, i.e. that contains large segments whose native state is unstructured. We identified consortin as a binding partner of connexins, the building blocks of gap junctions. Consortin is located at the trans-Golgi network (TGN), in tubulovesicular transport organelles, and at the plasma membrane. It directly interacts with the TGN clathrin adaptors GGA1 and GGA2, and disruption of this interaction by expression of a consortin mutant lacking the acidic cluster–dileucine (DXXLL) GGA interaction motif causes an intracellular accumulation of several connexins. RNA interference-mediated silencing of consortin expression in HeLa cells blocks the cell surface targeting of these connexins, which accumulate intracellularly, whereas partial depletion and redistribution of the consortin pool slows down the intracellular degradation of gap junction plaques. Altogether, our results show that, by studying connexin trafficking, we have identified the first TGN cargo receptor for the targeting of transmembrane proteins to the plasma membrane. The identification of consortin provides in addition a potential target for therapies aimed at diseases in which connexin traffic is altered, including cardiac ischemia, peripheral neuropathies, cataracts and hearing impairment.
Sequence accession numbers. GenBank: Human CNST cDNA, NM_152609; mouse Cnst cDNA, NM_146105.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddp490
PMCID: PMC2796891  PMID: 19864490
12.  OTOFERLIN IS CRITICAL FOR A HIGHLY SENSITIVE AND LINEAR CALCIUM DEPENDENT EXOCYTOSIS AT VESTIBULAR HAIR CELL RIBBON SYNAPSES 
Otoferlin, a C2-domain containing Ca2+ binding protein, is required for synaptic exocytosis in auditory hair cells. However, its exact role remains largely unknown. Intriguingly enough, no balance defect has been observed in otoferlin-deficient (Otof−/−) mice. Here, we show that the vestibular nerve compound action potentials evoked during transient linear acceleration ramps in Otof−/− mice display higher threshold, lower amplitude and increased latency compared to wild-type mice. Using patch clamp capacitance measurement in intact utricles, we show that type I and type II hair cells display a remarkable linear transfer function between Ca2+ entry, flowing through voltage-activated Ca2+ channels, and exocytosis. This linear Ca2+ dependence was observed when changing the Ca2+ channel open probability or the Ca2+ flux per channel during various test potentials. In Otof−/− hair cells, exocytosis displays slower kinetics, reduced Ca2+ sensitivity and non-linear Ca2+ dependence, despite morphologically normal synapses and normal Ca2+ currents. We conclude that otoferlin is essential for a high affinity Ca2+ sensor function that allows efficient and linear encoding of low intensity stimuli at the vestibular hair cell synapse.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1009-09.2009
PMCID: PMC2966717  PMID: 19710301
neurotransmitter release; membrane capacitance; synaptic activity; Ca2+ sensor; L-type Ca2+ channels; utricle; inner ear
13.  Cadherin-23, myosin VIIa and harmonin, encoded by Usher syndrome type I genes, form a ternary complex and interact with membrane phospholipids 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(18):3557-3565.
Cadherin-23 is a component of early transient lateral links of the auditory sensory cells' hair bundle, the mechanoreceptive structure to sound. This protein also makes up the upper part of the tip links that control gating of the mechanoelectrical transduction channels. We addressed the issue of the molecular complex that anchors these links to the hair bundle F-actin core. By using surface plasmon resonance assays, we show that the cytoplasmic regions of the two cadherin-23 isoforms that do or do not contain the exon68-encoded peptide directly interact with harmonin, a submembrane PDZ (post-synaptic density, disc large, zonula occludens) domain-containing protein, with unusually high affinity. This interaction involves the harmonin Nter-PDZ1 supramodule, but not the C-terminal PDZ-binding motif of cadherin-23. We establish that cadherin-23 directly binds to the tail of myosin VIIa. Moreover, cadherin-23, harmonin and myosin VIIa can form a ternary complex, which suggests that myosin VIIa applies tension forces on hair bundle links. We also show that the cadherin-23 cytoplasmic region, harmonin and myosin VIIa interact with phospholipids on synthetic liposomes. Harmonin and the cytoplasmic region of cadherin-23, both independently and as a binary complex, can bind specifically to phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2), which may account for the role of this phospholipid in the adaptation of mechanoelectrical transduction in the hair bundle. The distributions of cadherin-23, harmonin, myosin VIIa and PI(4,5)P2 in the growing and mature auditory hair bundles as well as the abnormal locations of harmonin and myosin VIIa in cadherin-23 null mutant mice strongly support the functional relevance of these interactions.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq271
PMCID: PMC2928128  PMID: 20639393
14.  Screening mutations of OTOF gene in Chinese patients with auditory neuropathy, including a familial case of temperature-sensitive auditory neuropathy 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:79.
Background
Mutations in OTOF gene, encoding otoferlin, cause DFNB9 deafness and non-syndromic auditory neuropathy (AN). The aim of this study is to identify OTOF mutations in Chinese patients with non-syndromic auditory neuropathy.
Methods
73 unrelated Chinese Han patients with AN, including one case of temperature sensitive non-syndromic auditory neuropathy (TS-NSRAN) and 92 ethnicity-matched controls with normal hearing were screened. Forty-five pairs of PCR primers were designed to amplify all of the exons and their flanking regions of the OTOF gene. The PCR products were sequenced and analyzed for mutation identification.
Results
Five novel possibly pathogenic variants (c.1740delC, c.2975_2978delAG, c.1194T>A, c.1780G>A, c.4819C > T) were identified in the group of 73 AN patients, in which two novel mutant alleles (c.2975_2978delAG + c.4819C > T) were identified in one Chinese TS-NSRAN case. Besides, 10 non-pathogenic variants of the OTOF gene were found in AN patients and controls.
Conclusions
Screening revealed that mutations in the OTOF gene account for AN in 4 of 73(5.5%) sporadic AN patients, which shows a lower genetic load of that gene in contrast to the previous studies based on other populations. Notably, we found two novel mutant alleles related to temperature sensitive non-syndromic auditory neuropathy. This mutation screening study further confirms that the OTOF gene contributes to ANs and to TS-NSRAN.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-79
PMCID: PMC2901213  PMID: 20504331
15.  Human adenylate kinase 2 deficiency causes a profound haematopoietic defect associated with sensorineural deafness 
Nature genetics  2008;41(1):106-111.
Reticular dysgenesis (RD) is an autosomal recessive form of human Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, characterized by an early differentiation arrest in the myeloid lineage and impaired lymphoid maturation. In addition, affected newborns have bilateral sensorineural deafness. We have identified biallelic mutations in the adenylate kinase 2 (AK2) gene in seven patients affected with RD. These mutations resulted in the absence or a strong decrease in protein expression. We then demonstrated that restoration of AK2 expression in the bone marrow cells of RD patients overcomes the neutrophil differentiation arrest underlining its specific requirement in the development of a restricted set of haematopoietic lineages. Lastly, we established that AK2 is specifically expressed in the stria vascularis region of the inner ear, which provides an explanation to the sensorineural deafness. These results suggest a novel mechanism regulating haematopoetic cell differentiation, and involved in one of the most severe human immunodeficiency syndromes.
doi:10.1038/ng.278
PMCID: PMC2612090  PMID: 19043416
16.  Cadherins as Targets for Genetic Diseases 
The 6-billion human population provides a vast reservoir of mutations, which, in addition to the opportunity of detecting very subtle defects, including specific cognitive dysfunctions as well as late appearing disorders, offers a unique background in which to investigate the roles of cell–cell adhesion proteins. Here we focus on inherited human disorders involving members of the cadherin superfamily. Most of the advances concern monogenic disorders. Yet, with the development of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) association studies, cadherin genes are emerging as susceptibility genes in multifactorial disorders. Various skin and heart disorders revealed the critical role played by desmosomal cadherins in epidermis, hairs, and myocardium, which experience high mechanical stress. Of particular interest in that respect is the study of Usher syndrome type 1 (USH1), a hereditary syndromic form of deafness. Studies of USH1 brought to light the crucial role of transient fibrous links formed by cadherin 23 and protocadherin 15 in the cohesion of the developing hair bundle, the mechanoreceptive structure of the auditory sensory cells, as well as the involvement of these cadherins in the formation of the tip-link, a key component of the mechano-electrical transduction machinery. Finally, in line with the well-established role of cadherins in synaptic formation, maintenance, strength, and plasticity, a growing number of cadherin family members, especially protocadherins, have been found to be involved in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Mutations in cadherins cause hereditary deafness by compromising development of mechanotransducers in the ear. They also contribute to skin, heart, and psychiatric disorders.
doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a003095
PMCID: PMC2827896  PMID: 20182609
17.  Harmonin-b, an actin-binding scaffold protein, is involved in the adaptation of mechanoelectrical transduction by sensory hair cells 
Pflugers Archiv   2009;459(1):115-130.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00424-009-0711-x
PMCID: PMC2767239  PMID: 19756723
Cochlea; Hair bundle; Vestibule; Harmonin; Mechanoelectrical transduction; Adaptation; Hair cell; Vestibular system
18.  Vezatin, an integral membrane protein of adherens junctions, is required for the sound resilience of cochlear hair cells 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2009;1(2):125-138.
Loud sound exposure is a significant cause of hearing loss worldwide. We asked whether a lack of vezatin, an ubiquitous adherens junction protein, could result in noise-induced hearing loss. Conditional mutant mice bearing non-functional vezatin alleles only in the sensory cells of the inner ear (hair cells) indeed exhibited irreversible hearing loss after only one minute exposure to a 105 dB broadband sound. In addition, mutant mice spontaneously underwent late onset progressive hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction related to substantial hair cell death. We establish that vezatin is an integral membrane protein with two adjacent transmembrane domains, and cytoplasmic N- and C-terminal regions. Late recruitment of vezatin at junctions between MDCKII cells indicates that the protein does not play a role in the formation of junctions, but rather participates in their stability. Moreover, we show that vezatin directly interacts with radixin in its actin-binding conformation. Accordingly, we provide evidence that vezatin associates with actin filaments at cell–cell junctions. Our results emphasize the overlooked role of the junctions between hair cells and their supporting cells in the auditory epithelium resilience to sound trauma.
doi:10.1002/emmm.200900015
PMCID: PMC3378116  PMID: 20049712
adherens junction; mouse model; noise-induced hearing loss; organ of Corti; vezatin
19.  Re-assigning the DFNB33 locus to chromosome 10p11.23–q21.1 
Homozygosity mapping is a powerful resource for mapping and identifying loci and genes responsible for autosomal recessive disorders. Nevertheless, it could result in the identification of several homozygous regions unrelated to the disease locus or non-informative regions. Previously, a genome-wide screen in a large consanguineous Jordanian family allowed us to assign the DFNB33 locus to chromosome 9q34.3. Sequencing of 23 candidate genes showed 11 SNPs in a heterozygous state in affected individuals. These results ruled out the candidate region on chromosome 9. Using additional markers, we were able to restrict the disease locus to an approximately 14 cM region at chromosome 10, located between markers D10S193 and D10S1784. A maximum LOD score of 3.99 was obtained with two markers, D10S199 and D10S220. The screening of two candidate genes, CX40.1 and FXYD4, failed to reveal any disease-causing mutations.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.155
PMCID: PMC2985962  PMID: 18781188
hearing impairment; locus, DFNB33, homozygosity mapping; candidate gene
20.  Kallmann Syndrome: Mutations in the Genes Encoding Prokineticin-2 and Prokineticin Receptor-2  
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(10):e175.
Kallmann syndrome combines anosmia, related to defective olfactory bulb morphogenesis, and hypogonadism due to gonadotropin-releasing hormone deficiency. Loss-of-function mutations in KAL1 and FGFR1 underlie the X chromosome-linked form and an autosomal dominant form of the disease, respectively. Mutations in these genes, however, only account for approximately 20% of all Kallmann syndrome cases. In a cohort of 192 patients we took a candidate gene strategy and identified ten and four different point mutations in the genes encoding the G protein-coupled prokineticin receptor-2 (PROKR2) and one of its ligands, prokineticin-2 (PROK2), respectively. The mutations in PROK2 were detected in the heterozygous state, whereas PROKR2 mutations were found in the heterozygous, homozygous, or compound heterozygous state. In addition, one of the patients heterozygous for a PROKR2 mutation was also carrying a missense mutation in KAL1, thus indicating a possible digenic inheritance of the disease in this individual. These findings reveal that insufficient prokineticin-signaling through PROKR2 leads to abnormal development of the olfactory system and reproductive axis in man. They also shed new light on the complex genetic transmission of Kallmann syndrome.
Synopsis
Kallmann syndrome is a developmental disease that affects both the hormonal reproductive axis and the sense of smell. In addition, various nonreproductive and nonolfactory anomalies are occasionally observed in a fraction of the patients. There is a developmental link between the reproductive and olfactory disorders: neuroendocrine cells producing the gonadotropin-releasing hormone that is deficient in the patients normally migrate from the nose to the forebrain along olfactory nerve fibers during embryonic life, and they most probably fail to do so in the patients. Affected individuals usually do not undergo spontaneous puberty. Hormone replacement therapy is the treatment to initiate virilization in males or breast development in females, and later, to develop fertility in both sexes. This is a hereditary disease with complex genetic transmission. Mutations in either of two different genes, KAL1 and FGFR1, have been found in approximately 20% of the affected individuals. The authors report on the identification (in a further 10% of patients) of various mutations in the prokineticin receptor-2 or prokineticin-2 genes, encoding a cell surface receptor and one of its ligands, respectively. Notably, some of the mutations were also detected in clinically unaffected individuals. This clearly indicates that additional, still unknown genetic or non-genetic factors are involved in disease production.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020175
PMCID: PMC1617130  PMID: 17054399
21.  Kallmann Syndrome: Mutations in the Genes Encoding Prokineticin-2 and Prokineticin Receptor-2  
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(10):e175.
Kallmann syndrome combines anosmia, related to defective olfactory bulb morphogenesis, and hypogonadism due to gonadotropin-releasing hormone deficiency. Loss-of-function mutations in KAL1 and FGFR1 underlie the X chromosome-linked form and an autosomal dominant form of the disease, respectively. Mutations in these genes, however, only account for approximately 20% of all Kallmann syndrome cases. In a cohort of 192 patients we took a candidate gene strategy and identified ten and four different point mutations in the genes encoding the G protein-coupled prokineticin receptor-2 (PROKR2) and one of its ligands, prokineticin-2 (PROK2), respectively. The mutations in PROK2 were detected in the heterozygous state, whereas PROKR2 mutations were found in the heterozygous, homozygous, or compound heterozygous state. In addition, one of the patients heterozygous for a PROKR2 mutation was also carrying a missense mutation in KAL1, thus indicating a possible digenic inheritance of the disease in this individual. These findings reveal that insufficient prokineticin-signaling through PROKR2 leads to abnormal development of the olfactory system and reproductive axis in man. They also shed new light on the complex genetic transmission of Kallmann syndrome.
Synopsis
Kallmann syndrome is a developmental disease that affects both the hormonal reproductive axis and the sense of smell. In addition, various nonreproductive and nonolfactory anomalies are occasionally observed in a fraction of the patients. There is a developmental link between the reproductive and olfactory disorders: neuroendocrine cells producing the gonadotropin-releasing hormone that is deficient in the patients normally migrate from the nose to the forebrain along olfactory nerve fibers during embryonic life, and they most probably fail to do so in the patients. Affected individuals usually do not undergo spontaneous puberty. Hormone replacement therapy is the treatment to initiate virilization in males or breast development in females, and later, to develop fertility in both sexes. This is a hereditary disease with complex genetic transmission. Mutations in either of two different genes, KAL1 and FGFR1, have been found in approximately 20% of the affected individuals. The authors report on the identification (in a further 10% of patients) of various mutations in the prokineticin receptor-2 or prokineticin-2 genes, encoding a cell surface receptor and one of its ligands, respectively. Notably, some of the mutations were also detected in clinically unaffected individuals. This clearly indicates that additional, still unknown genetic or non-genetic factors are involved in disease production.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020175
PMCID: PMC1617130  PMID: 17054399
22.  Rab27A and its effector MyRIP link secretory granules to F-actin and control their motion towards release sites 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;163(3):559-570.
The GTPase Rab27A interacts with myosin-VIIa and myosin-Va via MyRIP or melanophilin and mediates melanosome binding to actin. Here we show that Rab27A and MyRIP are associated with secretory granules (SGs) in adrenal chromaffin cells and PC12 cells. Overexpression of Rab27A, GTPase-deficient Rab27A-Q78L, or MyRIP reduced secretory responses of PC12 cells. Amperometric recordings of single adrenal chromaffin cells revealed that Rab27A-Q78L and MyRIP reduced the sustained component of release. Moreover, these effects on secretion were partly suppressed by the actin-depolymerizing drug latrunculin but strengthened by jasplakinolide, which stabilizes the actin cortex. Finally, MyRIP and Rab27A-Q78L restricted the motion of SGs in the subplasmalemmal region of PC12 cells, as measured by evanescent-wave fluorescence microscopy. In contrast, the Rab27A-binding domain of MyRIP and a MyRIP construct that interacts with myosin-Va but not with actin increased the mobility of SGs. We propose that Rab27A and MyRIP link SGs to F-actin and control their motion toward release sites through the actin cortex.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200302157
PMCID: PMC2173641  PMID: 14610058
Rab27A; MyRIP; exocytosis; actin; neuroendocrine cell
23.  Involvement of the Rab27 Binding Protein Slac2c/MyRIP in Insulin Exocytosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(10):4103-4113.
Rab27a is a GTPase associated with insulin-containing secretory granules of pancreatic β-cells. Selective reduction of Rab27a expression by RNA interference did not alter granule distribution and basal secretion but impaired exocytosis triggered by insulin secretagogues. Screening for potential effectors of the GTPase revealed that the Rab27a-binding protein Slac2c/MyRIP is associated with secretory granules of β-cells. Attenuation of Slac2c/MyRIP expression by RNA interference did not modify basal secretion but severely impaired hormone release in response to secretagogues. Although β-cells express Myosin-Va, a potential partner of Slac2c/MyRIP, no functional link between the two proteins could be demonstrated. In fact, overexpression of the Myosin-Va binding domain of Slac2c/MyRIP did not affect granule localization and hormone exocytosis. In contrast, overexpression of the actin-binding domain of Slac2c/MyRIP led to a potent inhibition of exocytosis without detectable alteration in granule distribution. This effect was prevented by point mutations that abolish actin binding. Taken together our data suggest that Rab27a and Slac2c/MyRIP are part of a complex mediating the interaction of secretory granules with cortical actin cytoskeleton and participate to the regulation of the final steps of insulin exocytosis.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E03-01-0022
PMCID: PMC207003  PMID: 14517322
24.  Myosin-I nomenclature 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;155(5):703-704.
We suggest that the vertebrate myosin-I field adopt a common nomenclature system based on the names adopted by the Human Genome Organization (HUGO). At present, the myosin-I nomenclature is very confusing; not only are several systems in use, but several different genes have been given the same name. Despite their faults, we believe that the names adopted by the HUGO nomenclature group for genome annotation are the best compromise, and we recommend universal adoption.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200110032
PMCID: PMC2150864  PMID: 11724811

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