Cholinergic efferent synaptic transmission regulates the maturation of auditory hair cell ribbon synapses.
ABSTRACT: Spontaneous electrical activity generated by developing sensory cells and neurons is crucial for the maturation of neural circuits. The full maturation of mammalian auditory inner hair cells (IHCs) depends on patterns of spontaneous action potentials during a 'critical period' of development. The intrinsic spiking activity of IHCs can be modulated by inhibitory input from cholinergic efferent fibres descending from the brainstem, which transiently innervate immature IHCs. However, it remains unknown whether this transient efferent input to developing IHCs is required for their functional maturation. We used a mouse model that lacks the ?9-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit (?9nAChR) in IHCs and another lacking synaptotagmin-2 in the efferent terminals to remove or reduce efferent input to IHCs, respectively. We found that the efferent system is required for the developmental linearization of the Ca(2+)-sensitivity of vesicle fusion at IHC ribbon synapses, without affecting their general cell development. This provides the first direct evidence that the efferent system, by modulating IHC electrical activity, is required for the maturation of the IHC synaptic machinery. The central control of sensory cell development is unique among sensory systems.
Project description:The development of neural circuits relies on spontaneous electrical activity that occurs during immature stages of development. In the developing mammalian auditory system, spontaneous calcium action potentials are generated by inner hair cells (IHCs), which form the primary sensory synapse. It remains unknown whether this electrical activity is required for the functional maturation of the auditory system. We found that sensory-independent electrical activity controls synaptic maturation in IHCs. We used a mouse model in which the potassium channel SK2 is normally overexpressed, but can be modulated in vivo using doxycycline. SK2 overexpression affected the frequency and duration of spontaneous action potentials, which prevented the development of the Ca(2+)-sensitivity of vesicle fusion at IHC ribbon synapses, without affecting their morphology or general cell development. By manipulating the in vivo expression of SK2 channels, we identified the "critical period" during which spiking activity influences IHC synaptic maturation. Here we provide direct evidence that IHC development depends upon a specific temporal pattern of calcium spikes before sound-driven neuronal activity.
Project description:In the adult auditory organ, mechanoelectrical transducer (MET) channels are essential for transducing acoustic stimuli into electrical signals. In the absence of incoming sound, a fraction of the MET channels on top of the sensory hair cells are open, resulting in a sustained depolarizing current. By genetically manipulating the in vivo expression of molecular components of the MET apparatus, we show that during pre-hearing stages the MET current is essential for establishing the electrophysiological properties of mature inner hair cells (IHCs). If the MET current is abolished in adult IHCs, they revert into cells showing electrical and morphological features characteristic of pre-hearing IHCs, including the re-establishment of cholinergic efferent innervation. The MET current is thus critical for the maintenance of the functional properties of adult IHCs, implying a degree of plasticity in the mature auditory system in response to the absence of normal transduction of acoustic signals.
Project description:During a critical developmental period, cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) exhibit sensory-independent activity, featuring action potentials in which Ca2+ ions play a fundamental role in driving both spiking and glutamate release onto synapses with afferent auditory neurons. This spontaneous activity is controlled by a cholinergic input to the IHC, activating a specialized nicotinic receptor with high Ca2+ permeability, and coupled to the activation of hyperpolarizing SK channels. The mechanisms underlying distinct excitatory and inhibitory Ca2+ roles within a small, compact IHC are unknown. Making use of Ca2+ imaging, afferent auditory bouton recordings, and electron microscopy, the present work shows that unusually high intracellular Ca2+ buffering and "subsynaptic" cisterns provide efficient compartmentalization and tight control of cholinergic Ca2+ signals. Thus, synaptic efferent Ca2+ spillover and cross-talk are prevented, and the cholinergic input preserves its inhibitory signature to ensure normal development of the auditory system.
Project description:KEY POINTS:The physiological maturation of auditory hair cells and their innervation requires precise temporal and spatial control of cell differentiation. The transcription factor gata3 is essential for the earliest stages of auditory system development and for survival and synaptogenesis in auditory sensory afferent neurons. We show that during postnatal development in the mouse inner ear gata3 is required for the biophysical maturation, growth and innervation of inner hair cells; in contrast, it is required only for the survival of outer hair cells. Loss of gata3 in inner hair cells causes progressive hearing loss and accounts for at least some of the deafness associated with the human hypoparathyroidism, deafness and renal anomaly (HDR) syndrome. The results show that gata3 is critical for later stages of mammalian auditory system development where it plays distinct, complementary roles in the coordinated maturation of sensory hair cells and their innervation. ABSTRACT:The zinc finger transcription factor gata3 regulates inner ear development from the formation of the embryonic otic placode. Throughout development, gata3 is expressed dynamically in all the major cochlear cell types. Its role in afferent formation is well established but its possible involvement in hair cell maturation remains unknown. Here, we find that in heterozygous gata3 null mice (gata3+/- ) outer hair cells (OHCs) differentiate normally but their numbers are significantly lower. In contrast, inner hair cells (IHCs) survive normally but they fail to acquire adult basolateral membrane currents, retain pre-hearing current and efferent innervation profiles and have fewer ribbon synapses. Targeted deletion of gata3 driven by otoferlin-cre recombinase (gata3fl/fl otof-cre+/- ) in IHCs does not affect OHCs or the number of IHC afferent synapses but it leads to a failure in IHC maturation comparable to that observed in gata3+/- mice. Auditory brainstem responses in gata3fl/fl otof-cre+/- mice reveal progressive hearing loss that becomes profound by 6-7 months, whilst distortion product otoacoustic emissions are no different to control animals up to this age. Our results, alongside existing data, indicate that gata3 has specific, complementary functions in different cell types during inner ear development and that its continued expression in the sensory epithelium orchestrates critical aspects of physiological development and neural connectivity. Furthermore, our work indicates that hearing loss in human hypoparathyroidism, deafness and renal anomaly (HDR) syndrome arises from functional deficits in IHCs as well as loss of function from OHCs and both afferent and efferent neurons.
Project description:Spontaneous action potential activity is crucial for mammalian sensory system development. In the auditory system, patterned firing activity has been observed in immature spiral ganglion and brain-stem neurons and is likely to depend on cochlear inner hair cell (IHC) action potentials. It remains uncertain whether spiking activity is intrinsic to developing IHCs and whether it shows patterning. We found that action potentials were intrinsically generated by immature IHCs of altricial rodents and that apical IHCs showed bursting activity as opposed to more sustained firing in basal cells. We show that the efferent neurotransmitter acetylcholine fine-tunes the IHC's resting membrane potential (V(m)), and as such is crucial for the bursting pattern in apical cells. Endogenous extracellular ATP also contributes to the V(m) of apical and basal IHCs by triggering small-conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) (SK2) channels. We propose that the difference in firing pattern along the cochlea instructs the tonotopic differentiation of IHCs and auditory pathway.
Project description:Mutations in the genes encoding for gap junction proteins connexin 26 (Cx26) and connexin 30 (Cx30) have been linked to syndromic and nonsyndromic hearing loss in mice and humans. The release of ATP from connexin hemichannels in cochlear nonsensory cells has been proposed to be the main trigger for action potential activity in immature sensory inner hair cells (IHCs), which is crucial for the refinement of the developing auditory circuitry. Using connexin knock-out mice, we show that IHCs fire spontaneous action potentials even in the absence of ATP-dependent intercellular Ca2+ signaling in the nonsensory cells. However, this signaling from nonsensory cells was able to increase the intrinsic IHC firing frequency. We also found that connexin expression is key to IHC functional maturation. In Cx26 conditional knock-out mice (Cx26Sox10-Cre), the maturation of IHCs, which normally occurs at approximately postnatal day 12, was partially prevented. Although Cx30 has been shown not to be required for hearing in young adult mice, IHCs from Cx30 knock-out mice exhibited a comprehensive brake in their development, such that their basolateral membrane currents and synaptic machinery retain a prehearing phenotype. We propose that IHC functional differentiation into mature sensory receptors is initiated in the prehearing cochlea provided that the expression of either connexin reaches a threshold level. As such, connexins regulate one of the most crucial functional refinements in the mammalian cochlea, the disruption of which contributes to the deafness phenotype observed in mice and DFNB1 patients. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:The correct development and function of the mammalian cochlea relies not only on the sensory hair cells, but also on the surrounding nonsensory cells. Although the nonsensory cells have been largely implicated in the general homeostasis in the mature cochlea, their involvement in the initial functional differentiation of the sensory inner hair cells is less clear. Using mutant mouse models for the most common form of congenital deafness in humans, which are knock-outs for the gap-junction channels connexin 26 and connexin 30 genes, we show that defects in nonsensory cells prevented the functional maturation of inner hair cells. In connexin knock-outs, inner hair cells remained stuck at a prehearing stage of development and, as such, are unable to process sound information.
Project description:Spontaneous electrical activity of neurons in developing sensory systems promotes their maturation and proper connectivity. In the auditory system, spontaneous activity of cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) is initiated by the release of ATP from glia-like inner supporting cells (ISCs), facilitating maturation of central pathways before hearing onset. Here, we find that ATP stimulates purinergic autoreceptors in ISCs, triggering Cl(-) efflux and osmotic cell shrinkage by opening TMEM16A Ca(2+)-activated Cl(-) channels. Release of Cl(-) from ISCs also forces K(+) efflux, causing transient depolarization of IHCs near ATP release sites. Genetic deletion of TMEM16A markedly reduces the spontaneous activity of IHCs and spiral ganglion neurons in the developing cochlea and prevents ATP-dependent shrinkage of supporting cells. These results indicate that supporting cells in the developing cochlea have adapted a pathway used for fluid secretion in other organs to induce periodic excitation of hair cells.
Project description:The sensory cells that are responsible for hearing include the cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) and outer hair cells (OHCs), with the OHCs being necessary for sound sensitivity and tuning1. Both cell types are thought to arise from common progenitors; however, our understanding of the factors that control the fate of IHCs and OHCs remains limited. Here we identify Ikzf2 (which encodes Helios) as an essential transcription factor in mice that is required for OHC functional maturation and hearing. Helios is expressed in postnatal mouse OHCs, and in the cello mouse model a point mutation in Ikzf2 causes early-onset sensorineural hearing loss. Ikzf2cello/cello OHCs have greatly reduced prestin-dependent electromotile activity, a hallmark of OHC functional maturation, and show reduced levels of crucial OHC-expressed genes such as Slc26a5 (which encodes prestin) and Ocm. Moreover, we show that ectopic expression of Ikzf2 in IHCs: induces the expression of OHC-specific genes; reduces the expression of canonical IHC genes; and confers electromotility to IHCs, demonstrating that Ikzf2 can partially shift the IHC transcriptome towards an OHC-like identity.
Project description:Cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) release neurotransmitter onto afferent auditory nerve fibers in response to sound stimulation. During early development, synaptic transmission is triggered by spontaneous Ca2+ spikes which are modulated by an efferent cholinergic innervation to IHCs. This synapse is inhibitory and mediated by the alpha9alpha10 nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR). After the onset of hearing, large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels are acquired and both the spiking activity and the efferent innervation disappear from IHCs. In this work, we studied the developmental changes in the membrane properties of cochlear IHCs from alpha10 nAChR gene (Chrna10) "knockout" mice. Electrophysiological properties of IHCs were studied by whole-cell recordings in acutely excised apical turns of the organ of Corti from developing mice. Neither the spiking activity nor the developmental functional expression of voltage-gated and/or calcium-sensitive K+ channels is altered in the absence of the alpha10 nAChR subunit. The present results show that the alpha10 nAChR subunit is not essential for the correct establishment of the intrinsic electrical properties of IHCs during development.
Project description:Autosomal-dominant sensorineural hearing loss is genetically heterogeneous, with a phenotype closely resembling presbycusis, the most common sensory defect associated with aging in humans. We have identified SLC17A8, which encodes the vesicular glutamate transporter-3 (VGLUT3), as the gene responsible for DFNA25, an autosomal-dominant form of progressive, high-frequency nonsyndromic deafness. In two unrelated families, a heterozygous missense mutation, c.632C-->T (p.A211V), was found to segregate with DFNA25 deafness and was not present in 267 controls. Linkage-disequilibrium analysis suggested that the families have a distant common ancestor. The A211 residue is conserved in VGLUT3 across species and in all human VGLUT subtypes (VGLUT1-3), suggesting an important functional role. In the cochlea, VGLUT3 accumulates glutamate in the synaptic vesicles of the sensory inner hair cells (IHCs) before releasing it onto receptors of auditory-nerve terminals. Null mice with a targeted deletion of Slc17a8 exon 2 lacked auditory-nerve responses to acoustic stimuli, although auditory brainstem responses could be elicited by electrical stimuli, and robust otoacoustic emissions were recorded. Ca(2+)-triggered synaptic-vesicle turnover was normal in IHCs of Slc17a8 null mice when probed by membrane capacitance measurements at 2 weeks of age. Later, the number of afferent synapses, spiral ganglion neurons, and lateral efferent endings below sensory IHCs declined. Ribbon synapses remaining by 3 months of age had a normal ultrastructural appearance. We conclude that deafness in Slc17a8-deficient mice is due to a specific defect of vesicular glutamate uptake and release and that VGLUT3 is essential for auditory coding at the IHC synapse.