Hair cells tightly control the dimensions of their stereocilia, which are actin-rich protrusions with graded heights that mediate mechanotransduction in the inner ear. Two members of the myosin-III family, MYO3A and MYO3B, are thought to regulate stereocilia length by transporting cargos that control actin polymerization at stereocilia tips. We show that eliminating espin-1 (ESPN-1), an isoform of ESPN and a myosin-III cargo, dramatically alters the slope of the stereocilia staircase in a subset of hair cells. Furthermore, we show that espin-like (ESPNL), primarily present in developing stereocilia, is also a myosin-III cargo and is essential for normal hearing. ESPN-1 and ESPNL each bind MYO3A and MYO3B, but differentially influence how the two motors function. Consequently, functional properties of different motor-cargo combinations differentially affect molecular transport and the length of actin protrusions. This mechanism is used by hair cells to establish the required range of stereocilia lengths within a single cell.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy