Author(s): Kuhn B, Vater M
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Abstract The arrangements of F-actin in hair cells and non-sensory cells were studied in paraformaldehyde-fixed cochleae of horseshoe bats and gerbils in several postnatal stages and in the adult. Phallotoxin-labeled midmodiolar cryostat sections of the organ of Corti were analyzed with confocal fluorescence microscopy. In both species, the arrangement of F-actin in the adult organ of Corti was essentially similar to that described in other mammals; however, both species showed their own species-typical specializations in staining of the Deiters cells. In the gerbil, a distinct baso-apical gradient in morphology and staining properties was found in the upper compartment of the Deiters cells. In the bat, F-actin label within the Deiters cups was most pronounced in the basal cochlear turn and less abundant in the apical turns. During the first postnatal week, the sensory epithelium of the gerbil lacked the tunnel of Corti and the spaces of Nuel. Only the reticular lamina and the surface of the greater epithelial ridge were intensely labeled for F-actin. At 9 days after birth (DAB), when the tunnel of Corti and the inner spiral sulcus were formed, the footplates of Deiters and pillar cells and the apices of pillar cells began to show intense F-actin label. At 12 DAB, corresponding to onset of hearing, F-actin staining was found throughout the supporting cell bodies, but was less intense than in the adult. The specialized upper compartment of the Deiters cells differentiated around 15-20 DAB. In the neonate bat, gross-morphology of the organ of Corti was almost adult-like, but only the reticular lamina and the head- and footplates of pillar cells showed intense F-actin staining. The F-actin cytoskeleton of the Deiters cells bodies was poorly developed. At the onset of hearing (between 3rd and 5th DAB), supporting cells showed only a slight increase of F-actin mainly at mechanically important cell regions, namely the Deiters cups, the contact zone of pillar headplates and the footplates of supporting cells. The most intense increase of F-actin occurred between onset of hearing and 16 DAB. At 16 DAB, the F-actin distribution within the supporting cells was similar to the adult. In both species, there were no clear baso-apical gradients in development of F-actin patterns. It is proposed that F-actin insertion in supporting cells after the onset of hearing contributes to maturation of cochlear function.
This article was published in Hear Res
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research