The Human "Cochlear Battery" - Claudin-11 Barrier and Ion Transport Proteins in the Lateral Wall of the Cochlea.
ABSTRACT: Background: The cochlea produces an electric field potential essential for hair cell transduction and hearing. This biological "battery" is situated in the lateral wall of the cochlea and contains molecular machinery that secretes and recycles K+ ions. Its functioning depends on junctional proteins that restrict the para-cellular escape of ions. The tight junction protein Claudin-11 has been found to be one of the major constituents of this barrier that maintains ion gradients (Gow et al., 2004; Kitajiri et al., 2004a). We are the first to elucidate the human Claudin-11 framework and the associated ion transport machinery using super-resolution fluorescence illumination microscopy (SR-SIM). Methods: Archival cochleae obtained during meningioma surgery were used for SR-SIM together with transmission electron microscopy after ethical consent. Results: Claudin-11-expressing cells formed parallel tight junction lamellae that insulated the epithelial syncytium of the stria vascularis and extended to the suprastrial region. Intercellular gap junctions were found between the barrier cells and fibrocytes. Conclusion: Transmission electron microscopy, confocal microscopy and SR-SIM revealed exclusive cell specialization in the various subdomains of the lateral wall of the human cochlea. The Claudin-11-expressing cells exhibited both conductor and isolator characteristics, and these micro-porous separators may selectively mediate the movement of charged units to the intrastrial space in a manner that is analogous to a conventional electrochemical "battery." The function and relevance of this battery for the development of inner ear disease are discussed.
Project description:Super-resolved structured illumination microscopy (SR-SIM) is among the fastest fluorescence microscopy techniques capable of surpassing the optical diffraction limit. Current custom-build instruments are able to deliver two-fold resolution enhancement with high acquisition speed. SR-SIM is usually a two-step process, with raw-data acquisition and subsequent, time-consuming post-processing for image reconstruction. In contrast, wide-field and (multi-spot) confocal techniques produce high-resolution images instantly. Such immediacy is also possible with SR-SIM, by tight integration of a video-rate capable SIM with fast reconstruction software. Here we present instant SR-SIM by VIGOR (Video-rate Immediate GPU-accelerated Open-Source Reconstruction). We demonstrate multi-color SR-SIM at video frame-rates, with less than 250 ms delay between measurement and reconstructed image display. This is achieved by modifying and extending high-speed SR-SIM image acquisition with a new, GPU-enhanced, network-enabled image-reconstruction software. We demonstrate high-speed surveying of biological samples in multiple colors and live imaging of moving mitochondria as an example of intracellular dynamics.
Project description:Hereditary hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects, yet the majority of genes required for audition is thought to remain unidentified. Ethylnitrosourea (ENU)-mutagenesis has been a valuable approach for generating new animal models of deafness and discovering previously unrecognized gene functions. Here we report on the characterization of a new ENU-induced mouse mutant (nmf329) that exhibits recessively inherited deafness. We found a widespread loss of sensory hair cells in the hearing organs of nmf329 mice after the second week of life. Positional cloning revealed that the nmf329 strain carries a missense mutation in the claudin-9 gene, which encodes a tight junction protein with unknown biological function. In an epithelial cell line, heterologous expression of wild-type claudin-9 reduced the paracellular permeability to Na+ and K+, and the nmf329 mutation eliminated this ion barrier function without affecting the plasma membrane localization of claudin-9. In the nmf329 mouse line, the perilymphatic K+ concentration was found to be elevated, suggesting that the cochlear tight junctions were dysfunctional. Furthermore, the hair-cell loss in the claudin-9-defective cochlea was rescued in vitro when the explanted hearing organs were cultured in a low-K+ milieu and in vivo when the endocochlear K+-driving force was diminished by deletion of the pou3f4 gene. Overall, our data indicate that claudin-9 is required for the preservation of sensory cells in the hearing organ because claudin-9-defective tight junctions fail to shield the basolateral side of hair cells from the K+-rich endolymph. In the tight-junction complexes of hair cells, claudin-9 is localized specifically to a subdomain that is underneath more apical tight-junction strands formed by other claudins. Thus, the analysis of claudin-9 mutant mice suggests that even the deeper (subapical) tight-junction strands have biologically important ion barrier function.
Project description:The molecular nature of tight junction architecture and permeability is a long-standing mystery. Here, by comprehensive biochemical, biophysical, genetic, and electron microscopic analyses of claudin-16 and -19 interactions--two claudins that play key polygenic roles in fatal human renal disease, FHHNC--we found that 1) claudin-16 and -19 form a stable dimer through cis association of transmembrane domains 3 and 4; 2) mutations disrupting the claudin-16 and -19 cis interaction increase tight junction ultrastructural complexity but reduce tight junction permeability; and 3) no claudin hemichannel or heterotypic channel made of claudin-16 and -19 trans interaction can exist. These principles can be used to artificially alter tight junction permeabilities in various epithelia by manipulating selective claudin interactions. Our study also emphasizes the use of a novel recording approach based on scanning ion conductance microscopy to resolve tight junction permeabilities with submicrometer precision.
Project description:The blood-testis barrier includes strands of tight junctions between somatic Sertoli cells that restricts solutes from crossing the paracellular space, creating a microenvironment within seminiferous tubules and providing immune privilege to meiotic and postmeiotic cells. Large cysts of germ cells transit the Sertoli cell tight junctions (SCTJs) without compromising their integrity. We used confocal microscopy to visualize SCTJ components during germ cell cyst migration across the SCTJs. Cysts become enclosed within a network of transient compartments fully bounded by old and new tight junctions. Dissolution of the old tight junctions releases the germ cells into the adluminal compartment, thus completing transit across the blood-testis barrier. Claudin 3, a tight junction protein, is transiently incorporated into new tight junctions and then replaced by claudin 11.
Project description:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) enters hepatocytes via various entry factors, including scavenger receptor BI (SR-B1), cluster of differentiation 81 (CD81), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), claudin-1 (CLDN1), and occludin (OCLN). As CLDN1 and OCLN are not readily accessible due to their tight junctional localization, HCV likely accesses them by either disrupting cellular polarity or migrating to the tight junction. In this study, we image HCV entry into a three-dimensional polarized hepatoma system and reveal that the virus sequentially engages these entry factors through actin-dependent mechanisms. HCV initially localizes with the early entry factors SR-B1, CD81, and EGFR at the basolateral membrane and then accumulates at the tight junction in an actin-dependent manner. HCV associates with CLDN1 and then OCLN at the tight junction and is internalized via clathrin-mediated endocytosis by an active process requiring EGFR. Thus, HCV uses a dynamic and multi-step process to engage and enter host cells.
Project description:The tight junction is an important subcellular organelle which plays a vital role in epithelial barrier function. Claudin, as the integral membrane component of tight junctions, creates a paracellular transport pathway for various ions to be reabsorbed by the kidneys. This review summarizes advances in claudin structure, function and pathophysiology in kidney diseases. Different claudin species confer selective paracellular permeability to each of three major renal tubular segments: the proximal tubule, the thick ascending limb of Henle's loop and the distal nephron. Defects in claudin function can cause a wide spectrum of kidney diseases, such as hypomagnesemia, hypercalciuria, kidney stones and hypertension. Studies using transgenic mouse models with claudin mutations have recapitulated several of these renal disease phenotypes and have elucidated the underlying biological mechanisms. Modern recording approaches based upon scanning ion conductance microscopy may resolve the biophysical nature of claudin transport function and provide novel insight into tight junction architecture.
Project description:Synchrotron radiation (SR) X-ray has wide biomedical applications including high resolution imaging and brain tumor therapy due to its special properties of high coherence, monochromaticity and high intensity. However, its interaction with biological tissues remains poorly understood. In this study, we used the rat testis as a model to investigate how SR X-ray would induce tissue responses, especially the blood-testis barrier (BTB) because BTB dynamics are critical for spermatogenesis. We irradiated the male gonad with increasing doses of SR X-ray and obtained the testicles 1, 10 and 20 d after the exposures. The testicle weight and seminiferous tubule diameter reduced in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Cryosections of testes were stained with tight junction (TJ) component proteins such as occludin, claudin-11, JAM-A and ZO-1. Morphologically, increasing doses of SR X-ray consistently induced developing germ cell sloughing from the seminiferous tubules, accompanied by shrinkage of the tubules. Interestingly, TJ constituent proteins appeared to be induced by the increasing doses of SR X-ray. Up to 20 d after SR X-ray irradiation, there also appeared to be time-dependent changes on the steady-state level of these protein exhibiting differential patterns at 20-day after exposure, with JAM-A/claudin-11 still being up-regulated whereas occludin/ZO-1 being down-regulated. More importantly, the BTB damage induced by 40 Gy of SR X-ray could be significantly attenuated by antioxidant N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) at a dose of 125 mg/kg. Taken together, our studies characterized the changes of TJ component proteins after SR X-ray irradiation, illustrating the possible protective effects of antioxidant NAC to BTB integrity.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Claudins are major components of tight junctions, which form the paracellular barrier between the cochlear luminal and abluminal fluid compartments that supports the large transepithelial voltage difference and the large concentration differences of K+, Na+ and Ca2+ needed for normal cochlear function. Claudins are a family of more than 20 subtypes, but our knowledge about expression and localization of each subtype in the cochlea is limited. RESULTS:We examined by quantitative RT-PCR the expression of the mRNA of 24 claudin isoforms in mouse cochlea during postnatal development and localized the expression in separated fractions of the cochlea. Transcripts of 21 claudin isoforms were detected at all ages, while 3 isoforms (Cldn-16, - 17 and - 18) were not detected. Claudins that increased expression during development include Cldn-9, - 13, - 14, - 15, and -19v2, while Cldn-6 decreased. Those that do not change expression level during postnatal development include Cldn-1, - 2, - 3, - 4, - 5, - 7, - 8, -10v1, -10v2, - 11, - 12, -19v1, - 20, - 22, and - 23. Our investigation revealed unique localization of some claudins. In particular, Cldn-13 expression rapidly increases during early development and is mainly expressed in bone but only minimally in the lateral wall (including stria vascularis) and in the medial region (including the organ of Corti). No statistically significant changes in expression of Cldn-11, - 13, or - 14 were found in the cochlea of Slc26a4 -/- mice compared to Slc26a4 +/- mice. CONCLUSIONS:We demonstrated developmental patterns of claudin isoform transcript expression in the murine cochlea. Most of the claudins were associated with stria vascularis and organ of Corti, tissue fractions rich in tight junctions. However, this study suggests a novel function of Cldn-13 in the cochlea, which may be linked to cochlear bone marrow maturation.
Project description:Testosterone and inflammation have been linked to the development of common age-associated diseases affecting the prostate gland including prostate cancer, prostatitis, and benign prostatic hypertrophy. We hypothesized that testosterone regulates components of prostate tight junctions which serve as a barrier to inflammation, thus providing a connection between age- and treatment-associated testosterone declines and prostatic pathology. We examined the expression and distribution of tight junction proteins in prostate biospecimens from mouse models and a clinical study of chemical castration, using transcript profiling, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy. We determined that low serum testosterone is associated with reduced transcript and protein levels of Claudin 4 and Claudin 8, resulting in defective tight junction ultrastructure in benign prostate glands. Expression of Claudin 4 and Claudin 8 was negatively correlated with the mononuclear inflammatory infiltrate caused by testosterone deprivation. Testosterone suppression also induced an autoimmune humoral response directed toward prostatic proteins. Testosterone supplementation in castrate mice resulted in re-expression of tight junction components in prostate epithelium and significantly reduced prostate inflammatory cell numbers. These data demonstrate that tight junction architecture in the prostate is related to changes in serum testosterone levels, and identify an androgen-regulated mechanism that potentially contributes to the development of prostate inflammation and consequent pathology.
Project description:Mutations in the GJB2 gene, which encodes the Connexin26 (Cx26) protein, are the most common cause of childhood hearing loss in American and European populations. The cochlea contains a gap junction (GJ) network in the sensory epithelium and two connective tissue networks in the lateral wall and spiral limbus. The syncytia contain the GJ proteins beta 2 (GJB2/Cx26) and beta 6 (GJB6/Cx30). Our knowledge of their expression in humans is insufficient due to the limited availability of tissue. Here, we sought to establish the molecular arrangement of GJs in the epithelial network of the human cochlea using surgically obtained samples.We analyzed Cx26 and Cx30 expression in GJ networks in well-preserved adult human auditory sensory epithelium using confocal, electron, and super-resolution structured illumination microscopy (SR-SIM).Cx30 plaques (<5??m) dominated, while Cx26 plaques were subtle and appeared as 'mini-junctions' (2-300?nm). 3-D volume rendering of Z-stacks and orthogonal projections from single optical sections suggested that the GJs are homomeric/homotypic and consist of assemblies of identical GJs composed of either Cx26 or Cx30. Occasionally, the two protein types were co-expressed, suggesting functional cooperation.Establishing the molecular composition and distribution of the GJ networks in the human cochlea may increase our understanding of the pathophysiology of Cx-related hearing loss. This information may also assist in developing future strategies to treat genetic hearing loss.