Synapses involving auditory nerve fibers in primate cochlea.
The anatomical mechanisms for processing auditory signals are extremely complex and incompletely understood, despite major advances already made with the use of electron microscopy. A major enigma, for example, is the presence in the mammalian cochlea of a double hair cell receptor system. A renewed attempt to discover evidence of synaptic coupling between the two systems in the primate cochlea, postulated from physiological studies, has failed. However, in the outer spiral bundle the narrow and rigid clefts seen between pairs of presumptive afferent fibers suggest the possibility of dendro-dendritic interaction confined to the outer hair cell system. The clustering of afferent processes within folds of supporting cells subjacent to outer hair cells is in contrast to the lack of such close associations in the inner hair cell region. The difference reinforces the suggestion of functional interaction of some sort between the outer hair cell afferent nerve processes. (+info)
p27(Kip1) links cell proliferation to morphogenesis in the developing organ of Corti.
Strict control of cellular proliferation is required to shape the complex structures of the developing embryo. The organ of Corti, the auditory neuroepithelium of the inner ear in mammals, consists of two types of terminally differentiated mechanosensory hair cells and at least four types of supporting cells arrayed precisely along the length of the spiral cochlea. In mice, the progenitors of greater than 80% of both hair cells and supporting cells undergo their terminal division between embryonic day 13 (E13) and E14. As in humans, these cells persist in a non-proliferative state throughout the adult life of the animal. Here we report that the correct timing of cell cycle withdrawal in the developing organ of Corti requires p27(Kip1), a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor that functions as an inhibitor of cell cycle progression. p27(Kip1) expression is induced in the primordial organ of Corti between E12 and E14, correlating with the cessation of cell division of the progenitors of the hair cells and supporting cells. In wild-type animals, p27(Kip1) expression is downregulated during subsequent hair cell differentiation, but it persists at high levels in differentiated supporting cells of the mature organ of Corti. In mice with a targeted deletion of the p27(Kip1) gene, proliferation of the sensory cell progenitors continues after E14, leading to the appearance of supernumerary hair cells and supporting cells. In the absence of p27(Kip1), mitotically active cells are still observed in the organ of Corti of postnatal day 6 animals, suggesting that the persistence of p27(Kip1) expression in mature supporting cells may contribute to the maintenance of quiescence in this tissue and, possibly, to its inability to regenerate. Homozygous mutant mice are severely hearing impaired. Thus, p27(Kip1) provides a link between developmental control of cell proliferation and the morphological development of the inner ear. (+info)
Comparing in vitro, in situ, and in vivo experimental data in a three-dimensional model of mammalian cochlear mechanics.
Normal mammalian hearing is refined by amplification of the motion of the cochlear partition. This partition, comprising the organ of Corti sandwiched between the basilar and tectorial membranes, contains the outer hair cells that are thought to drive this amplification process. Force generation by outer hair cells has been studied extensively in vitro and in situ, but, to understand cochlear amplification fully, it is necessary to characterize the role played by each of the components of the cochlear partition in vivo. Observations of cochlear partition motion in vivo are severely restricted by its inaccessibility and sensitivity to surgical trauma, so, for the present study, a computer model has been used to simulate the operation of the cochlea under different experimental conditions. In this model, which uniquely retains much of the three-dimensional complexity of the real cochlea, the motions of the basilar and tectorial membranes are fundamentally different during in situ- and in vivo-like conditions. Furthermore, enhanced outer hair cell force generation in vitro leads paradoxically to a decrease in the gain of the cochlear amplifier during sound stimulation to the model in vivo. These results suggest that it is not possible to extrapolate directly from experimental observations made in vitro and in situ to the normal operation of the intact organ in vivo. (+info)
Gene disruption of p27(Kip1) allows cell proliferation in the postnatal and adult organ of corti.
Hearing loss is most often the result of hair-cell degeneration due to genetic abnormalities or ototoxic and traumatic insults. In the postembryonic and adult mammalian auditory sensory epithelium, the organ of Corti, no hair-cell regeneration has ever been observed. However, nonmammalian hair-cell epithelia are capable of regenerating sensory hair cells as a consequence of nonsensory supporting-cell proliferation. The supporting cells of the organ of Corti are highly specialized, terminally differentiated cell types that apparently are incapable of proliferation. At the molecular level terminally differentiated cells have been shown to express high levels of cell-cycle inhibitors, in particular, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors [Parker, S. B., et al. (1995) Science 267, 1024-1027], which are thought to be responsible for preventing these cells from reentering the cell cycle. Here we report that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27(Kip1) is selectively expressed in the supporting-cell population of the organ of Corti. Effects of p27(Kip1)-gene disruption include ongoing cell proliferation in postnatal and adult mouse organ of Corti at time points well after mitosis normally has ceased during embryonic development. This suggests that release from p27(Kip1)-induced cell-cycle arrest is sufficient to allow supporting-cell proliferation to occur. This finding may provide an important pathway for inducing hair-cell regeneration in the mammalian hearing organ. (+info)
Supporting cells contribute to control of hearing sensitivity.
The mammalian hearing organ, the organ of Corti, was studied in an in vitro preparation of the guinea pig temporal bone. As in vivo, the hearing organ responded with an electrical potential, the cochlear microphonic potential, when stimulated with a test tone. After exposure to intense sound, the response to the test tone was reduced. The electrical response either recovered within 10-20 min or remained permanently reduced, thus corresponding to a temporary or sustained loss of sensitivity. Using laser scanning confocal microscopy, stimulus-induced changes of the cellular structure of the hearing organ were simultaneously studied. The cells in the organ were labeled with two fluorescent probes, a membrane dye and a cytoplasm dye, showing enzymatic activity in living cells. Confocal microscopy images were collected and compared before and after intense sound exposure. The results were as follows. (1) The organ of Corti could be divided into two different structural entities in terms of their susceptibility to damage: an inner, structurally stable region comprised of the inner hair cell with its supporting cells and the inner and outer pillar cells; and an outer region that exhibited dynamic structural changes and consisted of the outer hair cells and the third Deiters' cell with its attached Hensen's cells. (2) Exposure to intense sound caused the Deiters' cells and Hensen's cells to move in toward the center of the cochlear turn. (3) This event coincided with a reduced sensitivity to the test tone (i.e., reduced cochlear microphonic potential). (4) The displacement and sensitivity loss could be reversible. It is concluded that these observations have relevance for understanding the mechanisms behind hearing loss after noise exposure and that the supporting cells take an active part in protection against trauma during high-intensity sound exposure. (+info)
Somatic stiffness of cochlear outer hair cells is voltage-dependent.
The mammalian cochlea depends on an amplification process for its sensitivity and frequency-resolving capability. Outer hair cells are responsible for providing this amplification. It is usually assumed that the membrane-potential-driven somatic shape changes of these cells are the basis of the amplifying process. It is of interest to see whether mechanical reactance changes of the cells might accompany their changes in cell shape. We now show that the cylindrical outer hair cells change their axial stiffness as their membrane potential is altered. Cell stiffness was determined by optoelectronically measuring the amplitude of motion of a flexible vibrating fiber as it was loaded by the isolated cell. Voltage commands to the cell were delivered in a tight-seal whole-cell configuration. Cell stiffness was decreased by depolarization and increased by hyperpolarization. (+info)
AMPA-preferring glutamate receptors in cochlear physiology of adult guinea-pig.
1. The present study was designed to determine which glutamate (Glu) receptors are involved in excitatory neurotransmission at the first auditory synapse between the inner hair cells and the spiral ganglion neurons. 2. The Glu receptors present at the membrane level were investigated on isolated spiral ganglion neuron somata from guinea-pigs by whole-cell voltage-clamp measurements. Glu and AMPA induced a fast onset inward current that was rapidly desensitized, while kainate induced only a non-desensitizing, steady-state current. NMDA induced no detectable current. 3. To further discriminate between the AMPA and kainate receptors present, we used the receptor-specific desensitization blockers, cyclothiazide and concanavalin A. While no effect was observed with concanavalin A, cyclothiazide greatly enhanced the Glu-, AMPA- and kainate-induced steady-state currents and potentiated Glu-induced membrane depolarization. 4. To extrapolate the results obtained from the somata to the events occurring in situ at the dendrites, the effects of these drugs were evaluated in vivo. Cyclothiazide reversibly increased spontaneous activity of single auditory nerve fibres, while concanavalin A had no effect, suggesting that the functional Glu receptors on the somata may be the same as those at the dendrites. 5. The combination of a moderate-level sound together with cyclothiazide increased and subsequently abolished the spontaneous and the sound-evoked activity of the auditory nerve fibres. Histological examination revealed destruction of the dendrites, suggesting that cyclothiazide potentiates sound-induced Glu excitotoxicity via AMPA receptors. 6. Our results reveal that fast synaptic transmission in the cochlea is mainly mediated by desensitizing AMPA receptors. (+info)
A new mouse insertional mutation that causes sensorineural deafness and vestibular defects.
This article describes a new recessive insertional mutation in the transgenic line TgN2742Rpw that causes deafness and circling behavior in mice. Histologic analysis revealed virtually complete loss of the cochlear neuroepithelium (the organ of Corti) in adult mutant mice. In association with the neuroepithelial changes, there is a dramatic reduction of the cochlear nerve supply. Adult mutants also show morphological defects of the vestibular apparatus, including degeneration of the saccular neuroepithelium and occasional malformation of utricular otoconia. Audiometric evaluations demonstrated that the mice displaying the circling phenotype are completely deaf. Molecular analysis of this mutant line revealed that the transgenic insertion occurred without creating a large deletion of the host DNA sequences. The mutant locus was mapped to a region on mouse chromosome 10, where other spontaneous, recessive mutations causing deafness in mice have been mapped. (+info)