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      Hearing consequences in Gjb2 knock-in mice: implications for human p.V37I mutation


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          Human p.V37I mutation of GJB2 gene was strongly correlated with late-onset progressive hearing loss, especially among East Asia populations. We generated a knock-in mouse model based on human p.V37I variant (c.109G>A) that recapitulated the human phenotype. Cochlear pathology revealed no significant hair cell loss, stria vascularis atrophy or spiral ganglion neuron loss, but a significant change in the length of gap junction plaques, which may have contributed to the observed mild endocochlear potential (EP) drop in homozygous mice lasting lifetime. The cochlear amplification in homozygous mice was compromised, but outer hair cells’ function remained unchanged, indicating that the reduced amplification was EP- rather than prestin-generated. In addition to ABR threshold elevation, ABR wave I latencies were also prolonged in aged homozygous animals. We found in homozygous IHCs a significant increase in I Ca but no change in Ca 2+ efficiency in triggering exocytosis. Environmental insults such as noise exposure, middle ear injection of KCl solution and systemic application of furosemide all exacerbated the pathological phenotype in homozygous mice. We conclude that this Gjb2 mutation-induced hearing loss results from 1) reduced cochlear amplifier caused by lowered EP, 2) IHCs excitotoxicity associated with potassium accumulation around hair cells, and 3) progression induced by environmental insults.

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          Prestin is the motor protein of cochlear outer hair cells.

          The outer and inner hair cells of the mammalian cochlea perform different functions. In response to changes in membrane potential, the cylindrical outer hair cell rapidly alters its length and stiffness. These mechanical changes, driven by putative molecular motors, are assumed to produce amplification of vibrations in the cochlea that are transduced by inner hair cells. Here we have identified an abundant complementary DNA from a gene, designated Prestin, which is specifically expressed in outer hair cells. Regions of the encoded protein show moderate sequence similarity to pendrin and related sulphate/anion transport proteins. Voltage-induced shape changes can be elicited in cultured human kidney cells that express prestin. The mechanical response of outer hair cells to voltage change is accompanied by a 'gating current', which is manifested as nonlinear capacitance. We also demonstrate this nonlinear capacitance in transfected kidney cells. We conclude that prestin is the motor protein of the cochlear outer hair cell.
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            Connexin 26 mutations in hereditary non-syndromic sensorineural deafness.

            Severe deafness or hearing impairment is the most prevalent inherited sensory disorder, affecting about 1 in 1,000 children. Most deafness results from peripheral auditory defects that occur as a consequence of either conductive (outer or middle ear) or sensorineuronal (cochlea) abnormalities. Although a number of mutant genes have been identified that are responsible for syndromic (multiple phenotypic disease) deafness such as Waardenburg syndrome and Usher 1B syndrome, little is known about the genetic basis of non-syndromic (single phenotypic disease) deafness. Here we study a pedigree containing cases of autosomal dominant deafness and have identified a mutation in the gene encoding the gap-junction protein connexin 26 (Cx26) that segregates with the profound deafness in the family. Cx26 mutations resulting in premature stop codons were also found in three autosomal recessive non-syndromic sensorineuronal deafness pedigrees, genetically linked to chromosome 13q11-12 (DFNB1), where the Cx26 gene is localized. Immunohistochemical staining of human cochlear cells for Cx26 demonstrated high levels of expression. To our knowledge, this is the first non-syndromic sensorineural autosomal deafness susceptibility gene to be identified, which implicates Cx26 as an important component of the human cochlea.
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              Prestin is required for electromotility of the outer hair cell and for the cochlear amplifier.

              Hearing sensitivity in mammals is enhanced by more than 40 dB (that is, 100-fold) by mechanical amplification thought to be generated by one class of cochlear sensory cells, the outer hair cells. In addition to the mechano-electrical transduction required for auditory sensation, mammalian outer hair cells also perform electromechanical transduction, whereby transmembrane voltage drives cellular length changes at audio frequencies in vitro. This electromotility is thought to arise through voltage-gated conformational changes in a membrane protein, and prestin has been proposed as this molecular motor. Here we show that targeted deletion of prestin in mice results in loss of outer hair cell electromotility in vitro and a 40-60 dB loss of cochlear sensitivity in vivo, without disruption of mechano-electrical transduction in outer hair cells. In heterozygotes, electromotility is halved and there is a twofold (about 6 dB) increase in cochlear thresholds. These results suggest that prestin is indeed the motor protein, that there is a simple and direct coupling between electromotility and cochlear amplification, and that there is no need to invoke additional active processes to explain cochlear sensitivity in the mammalian ear.

                Author and article information

                Aging (Albany NY)
                Aging (Albany NY)
                Aging (Albany NY)
                Impact Journals
                30 September 2019
                27 September 2019
                : 11
                : 18
                : 7416-7441
                [1 ]Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200011, China
                [2 ]Ear Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200125, China
                [3 ]Shanghai Key Laboratory of Translational Medicine on Ear and Nose diseases, Shanghai 200125, China
                Author notes

                Equal contribution

                Correspondence to: Hao Wu; email: haowu@sh-jei.org
                Correspondence to: Lei Song; email: lei.song@yale.edu
                102246 102246
                Copyright © 2019 Lin et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 15 July 2019
                : 22 August 2019
                Research Paper

                Cell biology
                gjb2,age-related hearing loss,potassium recycling,environmental stress,hair cells
                Cell biology
                gjb2, age-related hearing loss, potassium recycling, environmental stress, hair cells


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