Hair cell identity establishes labeled lines of directional mechanosensation.
ABSTRACT: Directional mechanoreception by hair cells is transmitted to the brain via afferent neurons to enable postural control and rheotaxis. Neuronal tuning to individual directions of mechanical flow occurs when each peripheral axon selectively synapses with multiple hair cells of identical planar polarization. How such mechanosensory labeled lines are established and maintained remains unsolved. Here, we use the zebrafish lateral line to reveal that asymmetric activity of the transcription factor Emx2 diversifies hair cell identity to instruct polarity-selective synaptogenesis. Unexpectedly, presynaptic scaffolds and coherent hair cell orientation are dispensable for synaptic selectivity, indicating that epithelial planar polarity and synaptic partner matching are separable. Moreover, regenerating axons recapitulate synapses with hair cells according to Emx2 expression but not global orientation. Our results identify a simple cellular algorithm that solves the selectivity task even in the presence of noise generated by the frequent receptor cell turnover. They also suggest that coupling connectivity patterns to cellular identity rather than polarity relaxes developmental and evolutionary constraints to innervation of organs with differing orientation.
Project description:Emx2 is a homeodomain protein that plays a critical role in inner ear development. Homozygous null mice die at birth with a range of defects in the CNS, renal system and skeleton. The cochlea is shorter than normal with about 60% fewer auditory hair cells. It appears to lack outer hair cells and some supporting cells are either absent or fail to differentiate. Many of the hair cells differentiate in pairs and although their hair bundles develop normally their planar cell polarity is compromised. Measurements of cell polarity suggest that classic planar cell polarity molecules are not directly influenced by Emx2 and that polarity is compromised by developmental defects in the sensory precursor population or by defects in epithelial cues for cell alignment. Planar cell polarity is normal in the vestibular epithelia although polarity reversal across the striola is absent in both the utricular and saccular maculae. In contrast, cochlear hair cell polarity is disorganized. The expression domain for Bmp4 is expanded and Fgfr1 and Prox1 are expressed in fewer cells in the cochlear sensory epithelium of Emx2 null mice. We conclude that Emx2 regulates early developmental events that balance cell proliferation and differentiation in the sensory precursor population.
Project description:Hair cells in the inner ear display a characteristic polarization of their apical stereocilia across the plane of the sensory epithelium. This planar orientation allows coherent transduction of mechanical stimuli because the axis of morphological polarity of the stereocilia corresponds to the direction of excitability of the hair cells. Neuromasts of the lateral line in fishes and amphibians form two intermingled populations of hair cells oriented at 180 degrees relative to each other, however, creating a stimulus-polarity ambiguity. Therefore, it is unknown how these animals resolve the vectorial component of a mechanical stimulus. Using genetic mosaics and live imaging in transgenic zebrafish to visualize hair cells and neurons at single-cell resolution, we show that lateral-line afferents can recognize the planar polarization of hair cells. Each neuron forms synapses with hair cells of identical orientation to divide the neuromast into functional planar-polarity compartments. We also show that afferent neurons are strict selectors of polarity that can re-establish synapses with identically oriented targets during hair-cell regeneration. Our results provide the anatomical bases for the physiological models of signal-polarity resolution by the lateral line.
Project description:The orientation of hair bundles on top of sensory hair cells (HCs) in neuromasts of the lateral line system allows fish to detect direction of water flow. Each neuromast shows hair bundles arranged in two opposing directions and each afferent neuron innervates only HCs of the same orientation. Previously, we showed that this opposition is established by expression of Emx2 in half of the HCs, where it mediates hair bundle reversal (<xref ref-type="bibr" rid="bib15">Jiang et al., 2017</xref>). Here, we show that Emx2 also regulates neuronal selection: afferent neurons innervate either Emx2-positive or negative HCs. In emx2 knockout and gain-of-function neuromasts, all HCs are unidirectional and the innervation patterns and physiological responses of the afferent neurons are dependent on the presence or absence of Emx2. Our results indicate that Emx2 mediates the directional selectivity of neuromasts by two distinct processes: regulating hair bundle orientation in HCs and selecting afferent neuronal targets.
Project description:In the inner ear sensory epithelia, stereociliary hair bundles atop sensory hair cells are mechanosensory apparatus with planar polarized structure and orientation. This is established during development by the concerted action of tissue-level, intercellular planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling and a hair cell-intrinsic, microtubule-mediated machinery. However, how various polarity signals are integrated during hair bundle morphogenesis is poorly understood. Here, we show that the conserved cell polarity protein Par3 is essential for planar polarization of hair cells. Par3 deletion in the inner ear disrupted cochlear outgrowth, hair bundle orientation, kinocilium positioning, and basal body planar polarity, accompanied by defects in the organization and cortical attachment of hair cell microtubules. Genetic mosaic analysis revealed that Par3 functions both cell-autonomously and cell-nonautonomously to regulate kinocilium positioning and hair bundle orientation. At the tissue level, intercellular PCP signaling regulates the asymmetric localization of Par3, which in turn maintains the asymmetric localization of the core PCP protein Vangl2. Mechanistically, Par3 interacts with and regulates the localization of Tiam1 and Trio, which are guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) for Rac, thereby stimulating Rac-Pak signaling. Finally, constitutively active Rac1 rescued the PCP defects in Par3-deficient cochleae. Thus, a Par3-GEF-Rac axis mediates both tissue-level and hair cell-intrinsic PCP signaling.
Project description:Hair cells of the organ of Corti (OC) of the cochlea exhibit distinct planar polarity, both at the tissue and cellular level. Planar polarity at tissue level is manifested as uniform orientation of the hair cell stereociliary bundles. Hair cell intrinsic polarity is defined as structural hair bundle asymmetry; positioning of the kinocilium/basal body complex at the vertex of the V-shaped bundle. Consistent with strong apical polarity, the hair cell apex displays prominent actin and microtubule cytoskeletons. The Rho GTPase Cdc42 regulates cytoskeletal dynamics and polarization of various cell types, and, thus, serves as a candidate regulator of hair cell polarity. We have here induced Cdc42 inactivation in the late-embryonic OC. We show the role of Cdc42 in the establishment of planar polarity of hair cells and in cellular patterning. Abnormal planar polarity was displayed as disturbances in hair bundle orientation and morphology and in kinocilium/basal body positioning. These defects were accompanied by a disorganized cell-surface microtubule network. Atypical protein kinase C (aPKC), a putative Cdc42 effector, colocalized with Cdc42 at the hair cell apex, and aPKC expression was altered upon Cdc42 depletion. Our data suggest that Cdc42 together with aPKC is part of the machinery establishing hair cell planar polarity and that Cdc42 acts on polarity through the cell-surface microtubule network. The data also suggest that defects in apical polarization are influenced by disturbed cellular patterning in the OC. In addition, our data demonstrates that Cdc42 is required for stereociliogenesis in the immature cochlea.
Project description:The restoration of planar cell polarity is an essential but poorly understood step toward physiological recovery during sensory-organ regeneration. Investigating this issue in the lateral line of the zebrafish, we found that hair cells regenerate in pairs along a single axis established by the restricted localization and oriented division of their progenitors. By analyzing mutants lacking the planar-polarity determinant Vangl2, we ascertained that the uniaxial production of hair cells and the subsequent orientation of their hair bundles are controlled by distinct pathways, whose combination underlies the establishment of hair-cell orientation during development and regeneration. This mechanism may represent a general principle governing the long-term maintenance of planar cell polarity in remodeling epithelia.
Project description:The V-shaped hair bundles atop auditory hair cells and their uniform orientation are manifestations of epithelial planar cell polarity (PCP) required for proper perception of sound. PCP is regulated at the tissue level by a conserved core Wnt/PCP pathway. However, the hair cell-intrinsic polarity machinery is poorly understood. Recent findings implicate hair cell microtubules in planar polarization of hair cells. To elucidate the microtubule-mediated polarity pathway, we analyzed Lis1 function in the auditory sensory epithelium in the mouse. We show that conditional deletion of Lis1 in developing hair cells causes defects in cytoplasmic dynein and microtubule organization, resulting in planar polarity defects without overt effects on the core PCP pathway. Lis1 ablation during embryonic development results in defects in hair bundle morphology and orientation, cellular organization and junctional nectin localization. We present evidence that Lis1 regulates localized Rac-PAK signaling in embryonic hair cells, probably through microtubule-associated Tiam1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rac. Lis1 ablation in postnatal hair cells significantly disrupts centrosome anchoring and the normal V-shape of hair bundles, accompanied by defects in the pericentriolar matrix and microtubule organization. Lis1 is also required for proper positioning of the Golgi complex and mitochondria as well as for hair cell survival. Together, our results demonstrate that Lis1 mediates the planar polarity of hair cells through regulation of microtubule organization downstream of the tissue polarity pathway.
Project description:Auditory hair cells represent one of the most prominent examples of epithelial planar polarity. In the auditory sensory epithelium, planar polarity of individual hair cells is defined by their V-shaped hair bundle, the mechanotransduction organelle located on the apical surface. At the tissue level, all hair cells display uniform planar polarity across the epithelium. Although it is known that tissue planar polarity is controlled by non-canonical Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling, the hair cell-intrinsic polarity machinery that establishes the V-shape of the hair bundle is poorly understood. Here, we show that the microtubule motor subunit Kif3a regulates hair cell polarization through both ciliary and non-ciliary mechanisms. Disruption of Kif3a in the inner ear led to absence of the kinocilium, a shortened cochlear duct and flattened hair bundle morphology. Moreover, basal bodies are mispositioned along both the apicobasal and planar polarity axes of mutant hair cells, and hair bundle orientation was uncoupled from the basal body position. We show that a non-ciliary function of Kif3a regulates localized cortical activity of p21-activated kinases (PAK), which in turn controls basal body positioning in hair cells. Our results demonstrate that Kif3a-PAK signaling coordinates planar polarization of the hair bundle and the basal body in hair cells, and establish Kif3a as a key component of the hair cell-intrinsic polarity machinery, which acts in concert with the tissue polarity pathway.
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:The organization of polarized stereociliary bundles is critical for the function of the inner ear sensory receptor hair cells that detect sound and motion, and these cells present a striking example of Planar Cell Polarity (PCP); the coordinated orientation of polarized structures within the plane of an epithelium. PCP is best understood in Drosophila where the essential genes regulating PCP were first discovered, and functions for the core PCP proteins encoded by these genes have been deciphered through phenotypic analysis of core PCP gene mutants. One illuminating phenotype is the domineering non-autonomy that is observed where abrupt disruptions in PCP signaling impacts the orientation of neighboring wild type cells, because this demonstrates local intercellular signaling mediated by the core PCP proteins. Using Emx2-Cre to generate an analogous mutant boundary in the mouse inner ear, we disrupted vertebrate PCP signaling in Vangl1;Vangl2 conditional knockouts. Due to unique aspects of vestibular anatomy, core PCP protein distribution along the mutant boundary generated in the utricle resembles the proximal side of vang mutant clones in the Drosophila wing, while the boundary in the saccule resembles and the distal side. Consistent with these protein distributions, a domineering non-autonomy phenotype occurs along the Emx2-Cre boundary in the mutant utricle that does not occur in the saccule. These results further support the hypothesis that core PCP function is conserved in vertebrates by demonstrating intercellular PCP signaling in the sensory epithelia of the mouse ear.