Author(s): Inoshita A, Iizuka T, Okamura HO, Minekawa A, Kojima K,
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Abstract Hereditary hearing loss is one of the most prevalent inherited human birth defects, affecting one in 2000. A strikingly high proportion (50\%) of congenital bilateral nonsyndromic sensorineural deafness cases have been linked to mutations in the GJB2 coding for the connexin26. It has been hypothesized that gap junctions in the cochlea, especially connexin26, provide an intercellular passage by which K(+) are transported to maintain high levels of the endocochlear potential essential for sensory hair cell excitation. We previously reported the generation of a mouse model carrying human connexin26 with R75W mutation (R75W+ mice). The present study attempted to evaluate postnatal development of the organ of Corti in the R75W+ mice. R75W+ mice have never shown auditory brainstem response waveforms throughout postnatal development, indicating the disturbance of auditory organ development. Histological observations at postnatal days (P) 5-14 were characterized by i) absence of tunnel of Corti, Nuel's space, or spaces surrounding the outer hair cells, ii) significantly small numbers of microtubules in inner pillar cells, iii) shortening of height of the organ of Corti, and iv) increase of the cross-sectional area of the cells of the organ of Corti. Thus, morphological observations confirmed that a dominant-negative Gjb2 mutation showed incomplete development of the cochlear supporting cells. On the other hand, the development of the sensory hair cells, at least from P5 to P12, was not affected. The present study suggests that Gjb2 is indispensable in the postnatal development of the organ of Corti and normal hearing.
This article was published in Neuroscience
and referenced in Journal of Carcinogenesis & Mutagenesis