In humans, hereditary inactivation of either p22phox or gp91phox leads to chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), a severe immune disorder characterized by the inability of phagocytes to produce bacteria-destroying ROS. Heterodimers of p22phox and gp91 phox proteins constitute the superoxide-producing cytochrome core of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase. In this study, we identified the nmf333 mouse strain as what we believe to be the first animal model of p22phox deficiency. Characterization of nmf333 mice revealed that deletion of p22 phox inactivated not only the phagocyte NADPH oxidase, but also a second cytochrome in the inner ear epithelium. As a consequence, mice of the nmf333 strain exhibit a compound phenotype consisting of both a CGD-like immune defect and a balance disorder caused by the aberrant development of gravity-sensing organs. Thus, in addition to identifying a model of p22 phox-dependent immune deficiency, our study indicates that a clinically identifiable patient population with an otherwise cryptic loss of gravity-sensor function may exist. Thus, p22phox represents a shared and essential component of at least 2 superoxide-producing cytochromes with entirely different biological functions. The site of p22phox expression in the inner ear leads us to propose what we believe to be a novel mechanism for the control of vestibular organogenesis.
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