Individual USH2 proteins make distinct contributions to the ankle link complex during development of the mouse cochlear stereociliary bundle.
ABSTRACT: Usher syndrome (USH) is the leading cause of inherited deaf-blindness, with type 2 (USH2) being the most common clinical form. Studies suggest that proteins encoded by USH2 causative genes assemble into the ankle link complex (ALC) at the hair cell stereociliary bundle; however, little is known about the in vivo assembly and function of this complex. Using various USH2 mutant mice, we showed by immunofluorescence that USH2 proteins play different roles in cochlear ALC assembly, with G protein-coupled receptor 98 being the most important protein. Complex assembly likely occurs at the stereociliary bundle but not along the protein transport route in the cell body. Stereociliary morphological defects in USH2 mutant mice suggest roles for the ALC in regulating inner hair cell stereociliary growth and differentiation as well as outer hair cell stereociliary rigidity and organization during development. These roles are unique from the bundle cohesion role of Usher syndrome type 1 protein complexes. Loss of individual USH2 gene expressions leads to variable morphological and functional consequences, correlating with the severity of ALC disruption. This finding suggests a potential genotype-phenotype correlation in USH2 patients. In summary, this study provides novel insights into the molecular mechanism underlying cochlear stereociliary bundle development and hearing loss pathogenesis of various USH2 subtypes. Our thorough phenotypical characterization of USH2 mouse models is essential for future use of these animal models in therapeutic development.
Project description:Usher syndrome (USH) is the most common cause of inherited deaf-blindness, manifested as USH1, USH2 and USH3 clinical types. The protein products of USH2 causative and modifier genes, USH2A, ADGRV1, WHRN and PDZD7, interact to assemble a multiprotein complex at the ankle link region of the mechanosensitive stereociliary bundle in hair cells. Defects in this complex cause stereociliary bundle disorganization and hearing loss. The four USH2 proteins also interact in vitro with USH1 proteins including myosin VIIa, USH1G (SANS), CIB2 and harmonin. However, it is unclear whether the interactions between USH1 and USH2 proteins occur in vivo and whether USH1 proteins play a role in USH2 complex assembly in hair cells. In this study, we identified a novel interaction between myosin VIIa and PDZD7 by FLAG pull-down assay. We further investigated the role of the above-mentioned four USH1 proteins in the cochlear USH2 complex assembly using USH1 mutant mice. We showed that only myosin VIIa is indispensable for USH2 complex assembly at ankle links, indicating the potential transport and/or anchoring role of myosin VIIa for USH2 proteins in hair cells. However, myosin VIIa is not required for USH2 complex assembly in photoreceptors. We further showed that, while PDZ protein harmonin is not involved, its paralogous USH2 proteins, PDZD7 and whirlin, function synergistically in USH2 complex assembly in cochlear hair cells. In summary, our studies provide novel insight into the functional relationship between USH1 and USH2 proteins in the cochlea and the retina as well as the disease mechanisms underlying USH1 and USH2.
Project description:The microRNA (miR)-183/96/182 cluster plays important roles in the development and functions of sensory organs, including the inner ear. Point-mutations in the seed sequence of miR-96 result in non-syndromic hearing loss in both mice and humans. However, the lack of a functionally null mutant has hampered the evaluation of the cluster's physiological functions. Here we have characterized a loss-of-function mutant mouse model (miR-183CGT/GT), in which the miR-183/96/182 cluster gene is inactivated by a gene-trap (GT) construct. The homozygous mutant mice show profound congenital hearing loss with severe defects in cochlear hair cell (HC) maturation, alignment, hair bundle formation and the checkboard-like pattern of the cochlear sensory epithelia. The stereociliary bundles retain an immature appearance throughout the cochlea at postnatal day (P) 3 and degenerate soon after. The organ of Corti of mutant newborn mice has no functional mechanoelectrical transduction. Several predicted target genes of the miR-183/96/182 cluster that are known to play important roles in HC development and function, including Clic5, Rdx, Ezr, Rac1, Myo1c, Pvrl3 and Sox2, are upregulated in the cochlea. These results suggest that the miR-183/96/182 cluster is essential for stereociliary bundle formation, morphogenesis and function of the cochlear HCs.
Project description:Morphogenesis of sensory hair cells, in particular their mechanotransduction organelle, the stereociliary bundle, requires highly organized remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton. The roles of Rho family small GTPases during this process remain unknown. Here we show that deletion of Rac1 in the otic epithelium resulted in severe defects in cochlear epithelial morphogenesis. The mutant cochlea was severely shortened with a reduced number of auditory hair cells and cellular organization of the auditory sensory epithelium was abnormal. Rac1 mutant hair cells also displayed defects in planar cell polarity and morphogenesis of the stereociliary bundle, including bundle fragmentation or deformation, and mispositioning or absence of the kinocilium. We further demonstrate that a Rac-PAK (p21-activated kinase) signaling pathway mediates kinocilium-stereocilia interactions and is required for cohesion of the stereociliary bundle. Together, these results reveal a critical function of Rac1 in morphogenesis of the auditory sensory epithelium and stereociliary bundle.
Project description:Mutations in the Pejvakin (PJVK) gene are thought to cause auditory neuropathy and hearing loss of cochlear origin by affecting noise-induced peroxisome proliferation in auditory hair cells and neurons. Here we demonstrate that loss of pejvakin in hair cells, but not in neurons, causes profound hearing loss and outer hair cell degeneration in mice. Pejvakin binds to and colocalizes with the rootlet component TRIOBP at the base of stereocilia in injectoporated hair cells, a pattern that is disrupted by deafness-associated PJVK mutations. Hair cells of pejvakin-deficient mice develop normal rootlets, but hair bundle morphology and mechanotransduction are affected before the onset of hearing. Some mechanotransducing shorter row stereocilia are missing, whereas the remaining ones exhibit overextended tips and a greater variability in height and width. Unlike previous studies of Pjvk alleles with neuronal dysfunction, our findings reveal a cell-autonomous role of pejvakin in maintaining stereocilia architecture that is critical for hair cell function.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Two missense mutations in the Pejvakin (PJVK or DFNB59) gene were first identified in patients with audiological hallmarks of auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder, whereas all other PJVK alleles cause hearing loss of cochlear origin. These findings suggest that complex pathogenetic mechanisms underlie human deafness DFNB59. In contrast to recent studies, we demonstrate that pejvakin in auditory neurons is not essential for normal hearing in mice. Moreover, pejvakin localizes to stereociliary rootlets in hair cells and is required for stereocilia maintenance and mechanosensory function of the hair bundle. Delineating the site of the lesion and the mechanisms underlying DFNB59 will allow clinicians to predict the efficacy of different therapeutic approaches, such as determining compatibility for cochlear implants.
Project description:Usher syndrome type 2 (USH2) is the predominant form of USH, a leading genetic cause of combined deafness and blindness. PDZD7, a paralog of two USH causative genes, USH1C and USH2D (WHRN), was recently reported to be implicated in USH2 and non-syndromic deafness. It encodes a protein with multiple PDZ domains. To understand the biological function of PDZD7 and the pathogenic mechanism caused by PDZD7 mutations, we generated and thoroughly characterized a Pdzd7 knockout mouse model. The Pdzd7 knockout mice exhibit congenital profound deafness, as assessed by auditory brainstem response, distortion product otoacoustic emission and cochlear microphonics tests, and normal vestibular function, as assessed by their behaviors. Lack of PDZD7 leads to the disorganization of stereocilia bundles and a reduction in mechanotransduction currents and sensitivity in cochlear outer hair cells. At the molecular level, PDZD7 determines the localization of the USH2 protein complex, composed of USH2A, GPR98 and WHRN, to ankle links in developing cochlear hair cells, likely through its direct interactions with these three proteins. The localization of PDZD7 to the ankle links of cochlear hair bundles also relies on USH2 proteins. In photoreceptors of Pdzd7 knockout mice, the three USH2 proteins largely remain unchanged at the periciliary membrane complex. The electroretinogram responses of both rod and cone photoreceptors are normal in knockout mice at 1 month of age. Therefore, although the organization of the USH2 complex appears different in photoreceptors, it is clear that PDZD7 plays an essential role in organizing the USH2 complex at ankle links in developing cochlear hair cells. GenBank accession numbers: KF041446, KF041447, KF041448, KF041449, KF041450, KF041451.
Project description:Cochlear hair cells transduce mechanical stimuli into electrical activity. The site of hair cell transduction is the hair bundle, an array of stereocilia with different height arranged in a staircase. Tip links connect the apex of each stereocilium to the side of its taller neighbor. The hair bundle and tip links of hair cells are susceptible to acoustic trauma and ototoxic drugs. It has been shown that hair cells in lower vertebrates and in the mammalian vestibular system may survive bundle loss and undergo self-repair of the stereocilia. Our goals were to determine whether cochlear hair cells could survive the trauma and whether the tip link and/or the hair bundle could be regenerated. We simulated the acoustic trauma-induced tip link damage or stereociliary loss by disrupting tip links or ablating the hair bundles in the cultured organ of Corti from neonatal gerbils. Hair-cell fate and stereociliary morphology and function were examined using confocal and scanning electron microscopies and electrophysiology. Most bundleless hair cells survived and developed for approximately 2 weeks. However, no spontaneous hair-bundle regeneration was observed. When tip links were ruptured, repair of tip links and restoration of mechanotransduction were observed in <24 h. Our study suggests that the dynamic nature of the hair cell's transduction apparatus is retained despite the fact that regeneration of the hair bundle is lost in mammalian cochlear hair cells.
Project description:The asymmetric location of stereociliary bundle (hair bundle) on the apical surface of mechanosensory hair cells (HCs) dictates the direction in which a given HC can respond to cues such as sound, head movements, and water pressure. Notably, vestibular sensory organs of the inner ear, the maculae, exhibit a line of polarity reversal (LPR) across which, hair bundles are polarized in a mirror-image pattern. Similarly, HCs in neuromasts of the zebrafish lateral line system are generated as pairs, and two sibling HCs develop opposite hair bundle orientations. Within these sensory organs, expression of the transcription factor Emx2 is restricted to only one side of the LPR in the maculae or one of the two sibling HCs in neuromasts. Emx2 mediates hair bundle polarity reversal in these restricted subsets of HCs and generates the mirror-image pattern of the sensory organs. Downstream effectors of Emx2 control bundle polarity cell-autonomously via heterotrimeric G proteins.
Project description:Our understanding of the mechanisms underlying inherited forms of inner ear deficits has considerably improved during the past 20 y, but we are still far from curative treatments. We investigated gene replacement as a strategy for restoring inner ear functions in a mouse model of Usher syndrome type 1G, characterized by congenital profound deafness and balance disorders. These mice lack the scaffold protein sans, which is involved both in the morphogenesis of the stereociliary bundle, the sensory antenna of inner ear hair cells, and in the mechanoelectrical transduction process. We show that a single delivery of the sans cDNA by the adenoassociated virus 8 to the inner ear of newborn mutant mice reestablishes the expression and targeting of the protein to the tips of stereocilia. The therapeutic gene restores the architecture and mechanosensitivity of stereociliary bundles, improves hearing thresholds, and durably rescues these mice from the balance defects. Our results open up new perspectives for efficient gene therapy of cochlear and vestibular disorders by showing that even severe dysmorphogenesis of stereociliary bundles can be corrected.
Project description:An unconventional myosin encoded by the myosin VI gene (MYO6) contributes to hearing loss in humans. Homozygous mutations of MYO6 result in nonsyndromic profound congenital hearing loss, DFNB37. Kumamoto shaker/waltzer (ksv) mice harbor spontaneous mutations, and homozygous mutants exhibit congenital defects in balance and hearing caused by fusion of the stereocilia. We identified a Myo6c.1381G>A mutation that was found to be a p.E461K mutation leading to alternative splicing errors in Myo6 mRNA in ksv mutants. An analysis of the mRNA and protein expression in animals harboring this mutation suggested that most of the abnormal alternatively spliced isoforms of MYO6 are degraded in ksv mice. In the hair cells of ksv/ksv homozygotes, the MYO6 protein levels were significantly decreased in the cytoplasm, including in the cuticular plates. MYO6 and stereociliary taper-specific proteins were mislocalized along the entire length of the stereocilia of ksv/ksv mice, thus suggesting that MYO6 attached to taper-specific proteins at the stereociliary base. Histological analysis of the cochlear hair cells showed that the stereociliary fusion in the ksv/ksv mutants, developed through fusion between stereociliary bundles, raised cuticular plate membranes in the cochlear hair cells and resulted in incorporation of the bundles into the sheaths of the cuticular plates. Interestingly, the expression of the stereociliary rootlet-specific TRIO and F-actin binding protein (TRIOBP) was altered in ksv/ksv mice. The abnormal expression of TRIOBP suggested that the rootlets in the hair cells of ksv/ksv mice had excessive growth. Hence, these data indicated that decreased MYO6 levels in ksv/ksv mutants disrupt actin networks in the apical region of hair cells, thereby maintaining the normal structure of the cuticular plates and rootlets, and additionally provided a cellular basis for stereociliary fusion in Myo6 mutants.
Project description:Hair cells detect vibrations of their stereociliary bundle by activation of mechanically sensitive transducer channels. Although evidence suggests the transducer channels are near the stereociliary tops and are opened by force imparted by tip links connecting contiguous stereocilia, the exact channel site remains controversial. We used fast confocal imaging of fluorescence changes reflecting calcium entry during bundle stimulation to localize the channels. Calcium signals were visible in single stereocilia of rat cochlear inner hair cells and were up to tenfold larger and faster in the second and third stereociliary rows than in the tallest first row. The number of functional stereocilia was proportional to transducer current amplitude, indicating that there were about two channels per stereocilium. Comparable results were obtained in outer hair cells. The observations, supported by theoretical simulations, suggest there are no functional mechanically sensitive transducer channels in first row stereocilia and imply the channels are present only at the bottom of the tip links.