Progression of inner ear pathology in Ames waltzer mice and the role of protocadherin 15 in hair cell development.

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-9035, USA.
Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (Impact Factor: 2.55). 07/2006; 7(2):83-94. DOI: 10.1007/s10162-005-0024-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The Ames waltzer (av) mouse mutant exhibits auditory and vestibular abnormalities resulting from mutation of protocadherin 15 (Pcdh15). Ames waltzer has been identified as an animal model for inner ear pathology associated with Usher syndrome type 1F. Studies correlating anatomical phenotype with severity of genetic defect in various av alleles are providing better understanding of the role played by Pcdh15 in inner ear development and of sensorineural abnormalities associated with alterations in Pcdh15 protein structure as a result of gene mutation. In this work we present new findings on inner ear pathology in four alleles of av mice with differing mutations of Pcdh15 as well as varying alterations in inner ear morphology. Two alleles with in-frame deletion mutations (Pcdh15 (av-J) and Pcdh15 (av-2J)) and two presumptive functional null alleles (Pcdh15 (av-3J) and Pcdh15 (av-Tg)) were studied. Light and electron microscopic observations demonstrated that the severity of cochlear and vestibular pathology in these animals correlates positively with the extent of mutation in Pcdh15 from embryonic day 18 (E18) up to 12 months. Electron microscopic analysis of immature ears indicated early abnormalities in the arrangement of stereocilia and the inner and outer hair cell cuticular plates, stereocilia rootlets, and the actin meshwork within the cuticular plate. In severe cases, displacement of the kinocilium and alterations in the shape of the cuticular plate was also observed. Mice harboring in-frame deletion mutations showed less disorganization of stereocilia and cuticular plates in the organ of Corti than the presumptive functional null alleles at P0-P10. A slower progression of pathology was also seen via light microscopy in older animals with in-frame deletions, compared to the presumptive functional null mutations. In summary, our results demonstrate that mutation in Pcdh15 affects the initial formation of stereocilia bundles with associated changes in the actin meshwork within the cuticular plate; these effects are more pronounced in the presumed null mutation compared to mutations that only affect the extracellular domain. The positive correlation of severity of effects with extent of mutation can be seen well into adulthood.

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