All Publications

  • Disruption of tmc1/2a/2b genes in zebrafish reveals subunit requirements in subtypes of inner ear hair cells. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience Smith, E. T., Pacentine, I., Shipman, A., Hill, M., Nicolson, T. 2020


    Detection of sound and head movement requires mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) channels at tips of hair-cell stereocilia. In vertebrates, the transmembrane channel-like (TMC) proteins TMC1 and TMC2 fulfill critical roles in MET and substantial evidence implicates these TMCs as subunits of the MET channel. To identify developmental and functional roles of this Tmc subfamily in the zebrafish inner ear, we tested the effects of truncating mutations in tmc1, tmc2a, and tmc2b on in vivo mechanosensation at the onset of hearing and balance, before gender differentiation. We find that tmc1/2a/2b triple-mutant larvae cannot detect sound or orient with respect to gravity. They lack acoustic-evoked behavioral responses (AEBR), vestibular-induced eye movements (VIEM), and hair-cell activity as assessed with FM dye labeling and microphonic potentials. Despite complete loss of hair-cell function, tmc triple-mutant larvae retain normal gross morphology of hair bundles and proper trafficking of known MET components Protocadherin 15a (Pcdh15a), Lipoma HMGIC fusion partner-like 5 (Lhfpl5), and Transmembrane inner ear protein (Tmie). Transgenic, hair cell-specific expression of Tmc2b-mEGFP rescues the behavioral and physiological deficits in tmc triple mutants. Results from tmc single- and double- mutants evince a principle role for Tmc2a and Tmc2b in hearing and balance, respectively, whereas Tmc1 has lower overall impact. Our experiments reveal that in developing cristae, hair cells stratify into an upper, Tmc2a-dependent layer of teardrop shaped cells and a lower, Tmc1/2b-dependent tier of gourd shaped cells. Collectively our genetic evidence indicates that auditory/vestibular end organs and subsets of hair cells therein rely on distinct combinations of Tmc1/2a/2b.Significance StatementWe assessed the effects of tmc1/2a/2b truncation mutations on mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) in the inner-ear hair cells of larval zebrafish. tmc triple mutants lacked behavioral responses to sound and head movements, while further assays demonstrated no observable mechanosensitivity in the tmc1/2a/2b triple mutant inner ear. Examination of tmc double mutants revealed major contributions from Tmc2a and Tmc2b to macular function; however, Tmc1 had less overall impact. FM labeling of lateral cristae in tmc double mutants revealed the presence of two distinct cell types, an upper layer of teardrop shaped cells that rely on Tmc2a, and a lower layer of gourd shaped cells that rely on Tmc1/2b.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0163-20.2020

    View details for PubMedID 32371604

  • FijiWingsPolarity: An open source toolkit for semi-automated detection of cell polarity FLY Dobens, L. L., Shipman, A., Axelrod, J. D. 2018; 12 (1): 23–33


    Epithelial cells are defined by apical-basal and planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling, the latter of which establishes an orthogonal plane of polarity in the epithelial sheet. PCP signaling is required for normal cell migration, differentiation, stem cell generation and tissue repair, and defects in PCP have been associated with developmental abnormalities, neuropathologies and cancers. While the molecular mechanism of PCP is incompletely understood, the deepest insights have come from Drosophila, where PCP is manifest in hairs and bristles across the adult cuticle and organization of the ommatidia in the eye. Fly wing cells are marked by actin-rich trichome structures produced at the distal edge of each cell in the developing wing epithelium and in a mature wing the trichomes orient collectively in the distal direction. Genetic screens have identified key PCP signaling pathway components that disrupt trichome orientation, which has been measured manually in a tedious and error prone process. Here we describe a set of image processing and pattern-recognition macros that can quantify trichome arrangements in micrographs and mark these directly by color, arrow or colored arrow to indicate trichome location, length and orientation. Nearest neighbor calculations are made to exploit local differences in orientation to better and more reliably detect and highlight local defects in trichome polarity. We demonstrate the use of these tools on trichomes in adult wing preps and on actin-rich developing trichomes in pupal wing epithelia stained with phalloidin. FijiWingsPolarity is freely available and will be of interest to a broad community of fly geneticists studying the effect of gene function on PCP.

    View details for PubMedID 29189094

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5927706