Mechanotransduction in the mammalian auditory system depends on mechanosensitive channels in the hair bundles that project from the apical surface of the sensory hair cells. Individual stereocilia within each bundle contain a core of tightly packed actin filaments, whose length is dynamically regulated during development and in the adult. We show that the actin-binding protein epidermal growth factor receptor pathway substrate 8 (Eps8)L2, a member of the Eps8-like protein family, is a newly identified hair bundle protein that is localized at the tips of stereocilia of both cochlear and vestibular hair cells. It has a spatiotemporal expression pattern that complements that of Eps8. In the cochlea, whereas Eps8 is essential for the initial elongation of stereocilia, Eps8L2 is required for their maintenance in adult hair cells. In the absence of both proteins, the ordered staircase structure of the hair bundle in the cochlea decays. In contrast to the early profound hearing loss associated with an absence of Eps8, Eps8L2 nullmutant mice exhibit a late-onset, progressive hearing loss that is directly linked to a gradual deterioration in hair bundle morphology. We conclude that Eps8L2 is required for the long-term maintenance of the staircase structure and mechanosensory function of auditory hair bundles. It complements the developmental role of Eps8 and is a candidate gene for progressive age-related hearing loss.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 2013|
- Ion channel
- Sensory system
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