Mouse models of USH1C and DFNB18: phenotypic and molecular analyses of two new spontaneous mutations of the Ush1c gene.
ABSTRACT: We mapped two new recessive mutations causing circling behavior and deafness to the same region on chromosome 7 and showed they are allelic by complementation analysis. One was named 'deaf circler' (allele symbol dfcr) and the other 'deaf circler 2 Jackson' (allele symbol dfcr-2J). Both were shown to be mutations of the Ush1c gene, the mouse ortholog of the gene responsible for human Usher syndrome type IC and for the non-syndromic deafness disorder DFNB18. The Ush1c gene contains 28 exons, 20 that are constitutive and eight that are alternatively spliced. The dfcr mutation is a 12.8 kb intragenic deletion that eliminates three constitutive and five alternatively spliced exons. The dfcr-2J mutation is a 1 bp deletion in an alternatively spliced exon that creates a transcriptional frame shift, changing 38 amino acid codons before introducing a premature stop codon. Both mutations cause congenital deafness and severe balance deficits due to inner ear dysfunction. The stereocilia of cochlear hair cells are disorganized and splayed in mutant mice, with subsequent degeneration of the hair cells and spiral ganglion cells. Harmonin, the protein encoded by Ush1c, has been shown to bind, by means of its PDZ-domains, with the products of other Usher syndrome genes, including Myo7a, Cdh23 and Sans. The complexes formed by these protein interactions are thought to be essential for maintaining the integrity of hair cell stereocilia. The Ush1c mutant mice described here provide a means to directly investigate these interactions in vivo and to evaluate gene structure-function relationships that affect inner ear and eye phenotypes.
Project description:To investigate the expression of harmonin in the mouse retina, test for ultrastructural and physiological mutant phenotypes in the retina of an Ush1c mutant mouse, and define in detail the retinal phenotype in human USH1C.Antibodies were generated against harmonin. Harmonin isoform distribution was examined by Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry. Retinas of deaf circler (dfcr) mice, which possess mutant Ush1c, were analyzed by microscopy and electroretinography (ERG). Two siblings with homozygous 238_239insC (R80fs) USH1C mutations were studied with ERG, perimetry, and optical coherence tomography (OCT).Harmonin isoforms a and c, but not b are expressed in the retina. Harmonin is concentrated in the photoreceptor synapse where the majority is postsynaptic. Dfcr mice do not undergo retinal degeneration and have normal synaptic ultrastructure and ERGs. USH1C patients had abnormal rod and cone ERGs. Rod- and cone-mediated sensitivities and retinal laminar architecture were normal across 50 degrees -60 degrees of visual field. A transition zone to severely abnormal function and structure was present at greater eccentricities.The largest harmonin isoforms are not expressed in the retina. A major retinal concentration of harmonin is in the photoreceptor synapses, both pre- and post-synaptically. The dfcr mouse retina is unaffected by its mutant Ush1c. Patients with USH1C retained regions of normal central retina surrounded by degeneration. Perhaps the human disease is simply more aggressive than that in the mouse. Alternatively, the dfcr mouse may be a model for nonsyndromic deafness, due to the nonpathologic effect of its mutation on the retinal isoforms.
Project description: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 Ush1c (dfcr-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.
Project description:While more than 70 genes have been linked to deafness, most of which are expressed in mechanosensory hair cells of the inner ear, a challenge has been to link these genes into molecular pathways. One example is Myo7a (myosin VIIA), in which deafness mutations affect the development and function of the mechanically sensitive stereocilia of hair cells. We describe here a procedure for the isolation of low-abundance protein complexes from stereocilia membrane fractions. Using this procedure, combined with identification and quantitation of proteins with mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that MYO7A forms a complex with PDZD7, a paralog of USH1C and DFNB31. MYO7A and PDZD7 interact in tissue-culture cells, and co-localize to the ankle-link region of stereocilia in wild-type but not Myo7a mutant mice. Our data thus describe a new paradigm for the interrogation of low-abundance protein complexes in hair cell stereocilia and establish an unanticipated link between MYO7A and PDZD7.
Project description:Unconventional myosin 7a (Myo7a), myosin 7b (Myo7b), and myosin 15a (Myo15a) all contain MyTH4-FERM domains (myosin tail homology 4-band 4.1, ezrin, radixin, moesin; MF) in their cargo binding tails and are essential for the growth and function of microvilli and stereocilia. Numerous mutations have been identified in the MyTH4-FERM tandems of these myosins in patients suffering visual and hearing impairment. Although a number of MF domain binding partners have been identified, the molecular basis of interactions with the C-terminal MF domain (CMF) of these myosins remains poorly understood. Here we report the high-resolution crystal structure of Myo7b CMF in complex with the extended PDZ3 domain of USH1C (a.k.a., Harmonin), revealing a previously uncharacterized interaction mode both for MyTH4-FERM tandems and for PDZ domains. We predicted, based on the structure of the Myo7b CMF/USH1C PDZ3 complex, and verified that Myo7a CMF also binds to USH1C PDZ3 using a similar mode. The structure of the Myo7b CMF/USH1C PDZ complex provides mechanistic explanations for >20 deafness-causing mutations in Myo7a CMF. Taken together, these findings suggest that binding to PDZ domains, such as those from USH1C, PDZD7, and Whirlin, is a common property of CMFs of Myo7a, Myo7b, and Myo15a.
Project description:Inherited hearing loss in mice has contributed substantially to our understanding of inner-ear function. We identified a new allele at the Myo7a locus, Myo7a(sh1-8J); genomic characterization indicated that Myo7a(sh1-8J) arose from complex deletion encompassing exons 38-40 and 42-46. Homozygous mutant mice had no detectable auditory brainstem response, displayed highly disorganized hair-cell stereocilia and had no detectable MYO7A protein. We generated mice that were digenic heterozygotes for Myo7a(sh1-8J) and one of each Cdh23(v-2J), Ush1g(js) or Pcdh15(av-3J) alleles, or an Ush1c null allele. Significant levels of age-related hearing loss were detected in +/Myo7a(sh1-8J) +/Ush1g(js), +/Myo7a(sh1-8J) +/Cdh23(v-2J) and +/Myo7a(sh1-8J) +/Pcdh15(av-3J) double heterozygous mice compared with age-matched single heterozygous animals, suggesting epistasis between Myo7a and each of the three loci. +/Pcdh15(av-3J) +/Ush1g(js) double heterozygous mice also showed elevated hearing loss, suggesting Pcdh15-Ush1g epistasis. While we readily detected MYO7A, USH1C, CDH23 and PCDH15 using mass spectrometry of purified chick utricle hair bundles, we did not detect USH1G. Consistent with that observation, Ush1g microarray signals were much lower in chick cochlea than those of Myo7a, Ush1c, Cdh23 and Pcdh15 and were not detected in the chick utricle. These experiments confirm the importance of MYO7A for the development and maintenance of bundle function and support the suggestion that MYO7A, USH1G (Sans) and CDH23 form the upper tip-link complex in adult mice, likely in combination with USH1C (harmonin). MYO7A, USH1G and PCDH15 may form another complex in stereocilia. USH1G may be a limiting factor in both complexes.
Project description:Stereocilia, the modified microvilli projecting from the apical surfaces of the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, are essential to the mechanoelectrical transduction process underlying hearing and balance. The actin-filled stereocilia on each hair cell are tethered together by fibrous links to form a highly patterned hair bundle. Although many structural components of hair bundles have been identified, little is known about the signaling mechanisms that regulate their development, morphology, and maintenance. Here, we describe two naturally occurring, allelic mutations that result in hearing and balance deficits in mice, named roundabout (rda) and roundabout-2J (rda(2J)). Positional cloning identified both as mutations of the mouse ELMO domain containing 1 gene (Elmod1), a poorly characterized gene with no previously reported mutant phenotypes. The rda mutation is a 138 kb deletion that includes exons 1-5 of Elmod1, and rda(2J) is an intragenic duplication of exons 3-8 of Elmod1. The deafness associated with these mutations is caused by cochlear hair cell dysfunction, as indicated by conspicuous elongations and fusions of inner hair cell stereocilia and progressive degeneration of outer hair cell stereocilia. Mammalian ELMO-family proteins are known to be involved in complexes that activate small GTPases to regulate the actin cytoskeleton during phagocytosis and cell migration. ELMOD1 and ELMOD2 recently were shown to function as GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) for the Arf family of small G proteins. Our finding connecting ELMOD1 deficiencies with stereocilia dysmorphologies thus establishes a link between the Ras superfamily of small regulatory GTPases and the actin cytoskeleton dynamics of hair cell stereocilia.
Project description:Hearing impairment is the most common sensory disorder, with congenital hearing impairment present in approximately 1 in 1,000 newborns. Hereditary deafness is often mediated by the improper development or degeneration of cochlear hair cells. Until now, it was not known whether such congenital failures could be mitigated by therapeutic intervention. Here we show that hearing and vestibular function can be rescued in a mouse model of human hereditary deafness. An antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) was used to correct defective pre-mRNA splicing of transcripts from the USH1C gene with the c.216G>A mutation, which causes human Usher syndrome, the leading genetic cause of combined deafness and blindness. Treatment of neonatal mice with a single systemic dose of ASO partially corrects Ush1c c.216G>A splicing, increases protein expression, improves stereocilia organization in the cochlea, and rescues cochlear hair cells, vestibular function and low-frequency hearing in mice. These effects were sustained for several months, providing evidence that congenital deafness can be effectively overcome by treatment early in development to correct gene expression and demonstrating the therapeutic potential of ASOs in the treatment of deafness.
Project description:Usher syndrome (USH) is the most common form of deaf-blindness in humans. Molecular characterization revealed that the USH gene products form a macromolecular protein network in hair cells of the inner ear and in photoreceptor cells of the retina via binding to PDZ domains in the scaffold protein harmonin encoded by the Ush1c gene in mice and humans. Although several mouse mutants for the Ush1c gene have been described, we generated a targeted null mutation Ush1c mouse model in which the first four exons of the Ush1c gene were replaced with a reporter gene. Here, we assessed the expression pattern of the reporter gene under control of Ush1c regulatory elements and characterized the phenotype of mice defective for Ush1c. These Ush1 knockout mice are deaf but do not recapitulate vision defects before 10 months of age. Our data show LacZ expression in multiple layers of the retina but in neither outer nor inner segments of the photoreceptor layers in mice bearing the knockout construct at 1-5 months of age. The fact that Ush1c expression is much higher in the ear than in the eye suggests a different role for Ush1c in ear function than in the eye and may explain why Ush1c mutant mice do not recapitulate vision defects.
Project description:Deafness in humans is a common neurosensory disorder and is genetically heterogeneous. Across diverse ethnic groups, mutations of MYO15A at the DFNB3 locus appear to be the third or fourth most common cause of autosomal-recessive, nonsyndromic deafness. In 49 of the 67 exons of MYO15A, there are currently 192 recessive mutations identified, including 14 novel mutations reported here. These mutations are distributed uniformly across MYO15A with one enigmatic exception; the alternatively spliced giant exon 2, encoding 1,233 residues, has 17 truncating mutations but no convincing deafness-causing missense mutations. MYO15A encodes three distinct isoform classes, one of which is 395 kDa (3,530 residues), the largest member of the myosin superfamily of molecular motors. Studies of Myo15 mouse models that recapitulate DFNB3 revealed two different pathogenic mechanisms of hearing loss. In the inner ear, myosin 15 is necessary both for the development and the long-term maintenance of stereocilia, mechanosensory sound-transducing organelles that extend from the apical surface of hair cells. The goal of this Mutation Update is to provide a comprehensive review of mutations and functions of MYO15A.
Project description:The quantitative trait locus ahl8 is a key contributor to the early-onset, age-related hearing loss of DBA/2J mice. A nonsynonymous nucleotide substitution in the mouse fascin-2 gene (Fscn2) is responsible for this phenotype, confirmed by wild-type BAC transgene rescue of hearing loss in DBA/2J mice. In chickens and mice, FSCN2 protein is abundant in hair-cell stereocilia, the actin-rich structures comprising the mechanically sensitive hair bundle, and is concentrated toward stereocilia tips of the bundle's longest stereocilia. FSCN2 expression increases when these stereocilia differentially elongate, suggesting that FSCN2 controls filament growth, stiffens exposed stereocilia, or both. Because ahl8 accelerates hearing loss only in the presence of mutant cadherin 23, a component of hair-cell tip links, mechanotransduction and actin crosslinking must be functionally interrelated.