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Molecular and functional characterization of gap junctions in the avian inner ear.

Nickel, R; Becker, D; Forge, A; (2006) Molecular and functional characterization of gap junctions in the avian inner ear. J Neurosci , 26 (23) pp. 6190-6199. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1116-06.2006. Green open access

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Abstract

To analyze the fundamental role of gap junctions in the vertebrate inner ear, we examined molecular and functional characteristics of gap junctional communication (GJC) in the auditory and vestibular system of the chicken. By screening inner ear tissues for connexin isoforms using degenerate reverse transcription-PCR, we identified, in addition to chicken Cx43 (cCx43) and the inner-ear-specific cCx30, an as yet uncharacterized connexin predicted to be the ortholog of the mammalian Cx26. In situ hybridization indicated that cCx30 and cCx26 transcripts were both widely expressed in the cochlear duct and utricle in an overlapping pattern, suggesting coexpression of these isoforms similar to that in the mammalian inner ear. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that cCx43 was present in gap junctions connecting supporting cells of the basilar papilla, in which its immunofluorescence colocalized with that of cCx30. However, cCx43 was absent from supporting cell gap junctions of the utricular macula. This variation in the molecular composition of gap junction plaques coincided with differences in the functional properties of GJC between the auditory and vestibular sensory epithelia. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, adapted to examine the diffusion of calcein in inner ear explants, revealed asymmetric communication pathways among supporting cells in the basilar papilla but not in the utricular macula. This study supports the hypothesis that the coexpression of Cx26/Cx30 is unique to gap junctions in the vertebrate inner ear. Furthermore, it demonstrates asymmetric GJC within the supporting cell population of the auditory sensory epithelium, which might mediate potassium cycling and/or intercellular signaling.

Type: Article
Title: Molecular and functional characterization of gap junctions in the avian inner ear.
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1116-06.2006
Keywords: Animals, Cell Communication, Chick Embryo, Connexin 26, Connexins, Ear, Inner, Epithelium, Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching, Gap Junctions
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > The Ear Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/7271
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