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  • Differential expression of mechanotransduction complex genes in auditory/vestibular hair cells in zebrafish. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience Smith, E. T., Sun, P., Yu, S. K., Raible, D. W., Nicolson, T. 2023; 16: 1274822


    Ciliated sensory cells such as photo- and olfactory receptors employ multiple types of opsins or hundreds of unique olfactory G-protein coupled receptors to respond to various wavelengths of light or odorants. With respect to hearing and balance, the mechanotransduction machinery involves fewer variants; however, emerging evidence suggests that specialization occurs at the molecular level. To address how the mechanotransduction complex varies in the inner ear, we characterized the expression of paralogous genes that encode components required for mechanotransduction in zebrafish hair cells using RNA-FISH and bioinformatic analysis. Our data indicate striking zonal differences in the expression of two components of the mechanotransduction complex which are known to physically interact, the transmembrane channel-like 1 and 2 (tmc1/2) family members and the calcium and integrin binding 2 and 3 (cib2/3) paralogues. tmc1, tmc2b, and cib3 are largely expressed in peripheral or extrastriolar hair cells, whereas tmc2a and cib2 are enriched in central or striolar hair cells. In addition, a gene implicated in deaf-blindness, ush1c, is highly enriched in a subset of extrastriolar hair cells. These results indicate that specific combinations of these components may optimize responses to mechanical stimuli in subtypes of sensory receptors within the inner ear.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnmol.2023.1274822

    View details for PubMedID 38035267

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10682102

  • Transmembrane channel-like (Tmc) subunits contribute to frequency sensitivity in the zebrafish utricle. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience Sun, P., Smith, E., Nicolson, T. 2023


    Information about dynamic head motion is conveyed by a central 'striolar' zone of vestibular hair cells and afferent neurons in the inner ear. How vestibular hair cells are tuned to transduce dynamic stimuli at the molecular level is not well understood. Here we take advantage of the differential expression pattern of tmc1, tmc2a and tmc2b, which encode subunits of the mechanotransduction complex in zebrafish vestibular hair cells. To test the role of various combinations of Tmc subunits in transducing dynamic head movements, we measured reflexive eye movements induced by high frequency stimuli in single versus double tmc mutants. We found that tmc2a correlates with the broadest range of frequency sensitivity, whereas tmc2b mainly contributes to lower frequency responses. tmc1, which is excluded from the striolar zone, plays a minor role in sensing lower frequency stimuli. Our study suggests that the Tmc subunits impart functional differences to mechanotransduction of dynamic stimuli.Significance Statement Information about dynamic head movements is transmitted by sensory receptors, known as hair cells, in the labyrinth of the inner ear. The sensitivity of hair cells to fast or slow movements of the head differs according to cell type. Whether the mechanotransduction complex that converts mechanical stimuli into electrical signals in hair cells participates in conveying frequency information is not clear. Here we find that the transmembrane channel like 1/2 genes, which encode a central component of the complex, are differentially expressed in the utricle and contribute to frequency sensitivity in zebrafish.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1298-23.2023

    View details for PubMedID 37952940