A mouse model for human deafness DFNB22 reveals that hearing impairment is due to a loss of inner hair cell stimulation.
ABSTRACT: The gene causative for the human nonsyndromic recessive form of deafness DFNB22 encodes otoancorin, a 120-kDa inner ear-specific protein that is expressed on the surface of the spiral limbus in the cochlea. Gene targeting in ES cells was used to create an EGFP knock-in, otoancorin KO (Otoa(EGFP/EGFP)) mouse. In the Otoa(EGFP/EGFP) mouse, the tectorial membrane (TM), a ribbon-like strip of ECM that is normally anchored by one edge to the spiral limbus and lies over the organ of Corti, retains its general form, and remains in close proximity to the organ of Corti, but is detached from the limbal surface. Measurements of cochlear microphonic potentials, distortion product otoacoustic emissions, and basilar membrane motion indicate that the TM remains functionally attached to the electromotile, sensorimotor outer hair cells of the organ of Corti, and that the amplification and frequency tuning of the basilar membrane responses to sounds are almost normal. The compound action potential masker tuning curves, a measure of the tuning of the sensory inner hair cells, are also sharply tuned, but the thresholds of the compound action potentials, a measure of inner hair cell sensitivity, are significantly elevated. These results indicate that the hearing loss in patients with Otoa mutations is caused by a defect in inner hair cell stimulation, and reveal the limbal attachment of the TM plays a critical role in this process.
Project description:The mechanical stimulation of the outer hair cell hair bundle (HB) is a key step in nonlinear cochlear amplification. We show how two-tone suppression (TTS), a hallmark of cochlear nonlinearity, can be used as an indirect measure of HB stimulation. Using two different nonlinear computational models of the cochlea, we investigate the effect of altering the mechanical load applied by the tectorial membrane (TM) on the outer hair cell HB. In the first model (TM-A model), the TM is attached to the spiral limbus (as in wild-type animals); in the second model (TM-D model), the TM is detached from the spiral limbus (mimicking the cochlea of Otoa(EGFP/EGFP) mutant mice). As in recent experiments, model simulations demonstrate that the absence of the TM attachment does not preclude cochlear amplification. However, detaching the TM alters the mechanical load applied by the TM on the HB at low frequencies and therefore affects TTS by low-frequency suppressors. For low-frequency suppressors, the suppression threshold obtained with the TM-A model corresponds to a constant suppressor displacement on the basilar membrane (as in experiments with wild-type animals), whereas it corresponds to a constant suppressor velocity with the TM-D model. The predictions with the TM-D model could be tested by measuring TTS on the basilar membrane of the Otoa(EGFP/EGFP) mice to improve our understanding of the fundamental workings of the cochlea.
Project description:A 3,673-bp murine cDNA predicted to encode a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein of 1,088 amino acids was isolated during a study aimed at identifying transcripts specifically expressed in the inner ear. This inner ear-specific protein, otoancorin, shares weak homology with megakaryocyte potentiating factor/mesothelin precursor. Otoancorin is located at the interface between the apical surface of the inner ear sensory epithelia and their overlying acellular gels. In the cochlea, otoancorin is detected at two attachment zones of the tectorial membrane, a permanent one along the top of the spiral limbus and a transient one on the surface of the developing greater epithelial ridge. In the vestibule, otoancorin is present on the apical surface of nonsensory cells, where they contact the otoconial membranes and cupulae. The identification of the mutation (IVS12+2T>C) in the corresponding gene OTOA in one consanguineous Palestinian family affected by nonsyndromic recessive deafness DFNB22 assigns an essential function to otoancorin. We propose that otoancorin ensures the attachment of the inner ear acellular gels to the apical surface of the underlying nonsensory cells.
Project description:Otoancorin (OTOA), encoded by OTOA, is required for the development of the tectorial membrane in the inner ear. Mutations in this gene cause nonsyndromic hearing loss (DFNB22). The molecular mechanisms underlying most DFNB22 remain poorly understood. Disruption of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchorage has been assumed to be the pathophysiology mandating experimental validation. From a Korean deaf family, we identified two trans OTOA variants (c.1320?+?5?G?>?C and p.Gln589ArgfsX55 [NM_144672.3]) . The pathogenic potential of c.1320?+?5?G?>?C was confirmed by a minigene splicing assay. To experimentally determine the GPI anchorage, wild-type (WT) and mutant OTOA harboring p.Gln589ArgfsX55 were expressed in HEK293T cells. The mutant OTOA with p.Gln589ArgfsX55 resulted in an uncontrolled release of OTOA into the medium in contrast with phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C-induced controlled release of WT OTOA from the cell surface. Together, the results of this reverse translational study confirmed GPI-anchorage of OTOA and showed that downstream sequences from the 589th amino acid are critical for GPI-anchorage.
Project description:High sensitivity and selectivity of hearing require an active cochlea. The cochlear sensory epithelium, the organ of Corti, vibrates because of external and internal excitations. The external stimulation is acoustic pressures mediated by the scala fluids, whereas the internal excitation is generated by a type of sensory receptor cells (the outer hair cells) in response to the acoustic vibrations. The outer hair cells are cellular actuators that are responsible for cochlear amplification. The organ of Corti is highly structured for transmitting vibrations originating from acoustic pressure and active outer hair cell force to the inner hair cells that synapse on afferent nerves. Understanding how the organ of Corti vibrates because of acoustic pressure and outer hair cell force is critical for explaining cochlear function. In this study, cochleae were freshly isolated from young gerbils. The organ of Corti in the excised cochlea was subjected to mechanical and electrical stimulation that are analogous to acoustic and cellular stimulation in the natural cochlea. Organ of Corti vibrations, including those of individual outer hair cells, were measured using optical coherence tomography. Respective vibration patterns due to mechanical and electrical stimulation were characterized. Interactions between the two vibration patterns were investigated by applying the two forms of stimulation simultaneously. Our results show that the interactions could be either constructive or destructive, which implies that the outer hair cells can either amplify or reduce vibrations in the organ of Corti. We discuss a potential consequence of the two interaction modes for cochlear frequency tuning.
Project description:A large proportion of age-related hearing loss is caused by loss or damage to outer hair cells in the organ of Corti. The organ of Corti is the mechanosensory transducing apparatus in the inner ear and is composed of inner hair cells, outer hair cells, and highly specialized supporting cells. The mechanisms that regulate differentiation of inner and outer hair cells are not known. Here we report that fibroblast growth factor 20 (FGF20) is required for differentiation of cells in the lateral cochlear compartment (outer hair and supporting cells) within the organ of Corti during a specific developmental time. In the absence of FGF20, mice are deaf and lateral compartment cells remain undifferentiated, postmitotic, and unresponsive to Notch-dependent lateral inhibition. These studies identify developmentally distinct medial (inner hair and supporting cells) and lateral compartments in the developing organ of Corti. The viability and hearing loss in Fgf20 knockout mice suggest that FGF20 may also be a deafness-associated gene in humans.
Project description:Recent studies suggest that wave motions of the tectorial membrane (TM) play a critical role in determining the frequency selectivity of hearing. However, frequency tuning is also thought to be limited by viscous loss in subtectorial fluid. Here, we analyze effects of this loss and other cochlear loads on TM traveling waves. Using a viscoelastic model, we demonstrate that hair bundle stiffness has little effect on TM traveling waves calculated with physiological parameters, that the limbal attachment can cause small (<20%) increases in TM wavelength, and that viscous loss in the subtectorial fluid can cause small (<20%) decreases in TM wave decay constants. However, effects of viscous loss in the subtectorial fluid are significantly increased if TM thickness is decreased. In contrast, increasing TM thickness above its physiological range has little effect on the wave, suggesting that the TM is just thick enough to maximize the spatial extent of the TM traveling wave.
Project description:In vertebrate hearing organs, mechanical vibrations are converted to ionic currents through mechanoelectrical-transduction (MET) channels. Concerted stereocilia motion produces an ensemble MET current driving the hair-cell receptor potential. Mammalian cochleae are unique in that the tuning of sensory cells is determined by their mechanical environment and the mode of hair-bundle stimulation that their environment creates. However, little is known about the in situ intra-hair-bundle motions of stereocilia relative to one another, or to their environment. In this study, high-speed imaging allowed the stereocilium and cell-body motions of inner hair cells to be monitored in an ex vivo organ of Corti (OoC) mouse preparation. We have found that the OoC rotates about the base of the inner pillar cell, the hair bundle rotates about its base and lags behind the motion of the apical surface of the cell, and the individual stereocilia move semi-independently within a given hair bundle.
Project description:Mesenchymal nonsensory regions of the inner ear are important structures surrounding the neurosensory epithelium that are believed to participate in the ionic homeostasis of the cochlea and vestibule. We report here the discovery of otospiralin, an inner ear-specific protein that is produced by fibrocytes from these regions, including the spiral ligament and spiral limbus in the cochlea and the maculae and semicircular canals in the vestibule. Otospiralin is a novel 6.4 kDa protein of unknown function that shares a protein motif with the gag p30 core shell nucleocapsid protein of type C retroviruses. To evaluate its functional importance, we downregulated otospiralin by cochlear perfusion of antisense oligonucleotides in guinea pigs. This led to a rapid threshold elevation of the compound action potentials and irreversible deafness. Cochlear examination by transmission electron microscopy revealed hair cell loss and degeneration of the organ of Corti. This demonstrates that otospiralin is essential for the survival of the neurosensory epithelium.
Project description:Small non-coding RNAs, in particular microRNAs (miRNAs), regulate fine-tuning of gene expression and can impact a wide range of biological processes. However, their roles in normal and diseased limbal epithelial stem cells (LESC) remain unknown. Using deep sequencing analysis, we investigated miRNA expression profiles in central and limbal regions of normal and diabetic human corneas. We identified differentially expressed miRNAs in limbus vs. central cornea in normal and diabetic (DM) corneas including both type 1 (T1DM/IDDM) and type 2 (T2DM/NIDDM) diabetes. Some miRNAs such as miR-10b that was upregulated in limbus vs. central cornea and in diabetic vs. normal limbus also showed significant increase in T1DM vs. T2DM limbus. Overexpression of miR-10b increased Ki-67 staining in human organ-cultured corneas and proliferation rate in cultured corneal epithelial cells. MiR-10b transfected human organ-cultured corneas showed downregulation of PAX6 and DKK1 and upregulation of keratin 17 protein expression levels. In summary, we report for the first time differential miRNA signatures of T1DM and T2DM corneal limbus harboring LESC and show that miR-10b could be involved in the LESC maintenance and/or their early differentiation. Furthermore, miR-10b upregulation may be an important mechanism of corneal diabetic alterations especially in the T1DM patients.
Project description:Sound-evoked vibrations transmitted into the mammalian cochlea produce traveling waves that provide the mechanical tuning necessary for spectral decomposition of sound. These traveling waves of motion that have been observed to propagate longitudinally along the basilar membrane (BM) ultimately stimulate the mechano-sensory receptors. The tectorial membrane (TM) plays a key role in this process, but its mechanical function remains unclear. Here we show that the TM supports traveling waves that are an intrinsic feature of its visco-elastic structure. Radial forces applied at audio frequencies (2-20 kHz) to isolated TM segments generate longitudinally propagating waves on the TM with velocities similar to those of the BM traveling wave near its best frequency place. We compute the dynamic shear storage modulus and shear viscosity of the TM from the propagation velocity of the waves and show that segments of the TM from the basal turn are stiffer than apical segments are. Analysis of loading effects of hair bundle stiffness, the limbal attachment of the TM, and viscous damping in the subtectorial space suggests that TM traveling waves can occur in vivo. Our results show the presence of a traveling wave mechanism through the TM that can functionally couple a significant longitudinal extent of the cochlea and may interact with the BM wave to greatly enhance cochlear sensitivity and tuning.