Stefan Heller

Stanford Medicine, Stanford, California, United States

Are you Stefan Heller?

Claim your profile

Publications (78)511.78 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: Cisplatin is a widely-used chemotherapeutic agent that can also cause ototoxic injury. One potential treatment for cisplatin-induced hearing loss involves the activation of endogenous inner ear stem cells, which may then produce replacement hair cells. In this series of experiments, we examined the effects of cisplatin exposure on both hair cells and resident stem cells of the mouse inner ear.Results: Treatment for 24 hours with 10 µM cisplatin caused significant loss of hair cells in the mouse utricle, but such damage was not evident until four days after the cisplatin exposure. In addition to killing hair cells, cisplatin treatment also disrupted the actin cytoskeleton in remaining supporting cells, and lead to increased histone H2AX phosphorylation within the sensory epithelia. Finally, treatment with 10 µM cisplatin appeared to have direct toxic effects on resident stem cells in the mouse utricle. Exposure to cisplatin blocked the proliferation of isolated stem cells and prevented sphere formation when those cells were maintained in suspension culture.Conclusion: The results suggest that inner ear stem cells may be injured during cisplatin ototoxicity, thus limiting their ability to mediate sensory repair. Developmental Dynamics, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Developmental Dynamics 05/2014; · 2.59 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The otocyst harbors progenitors for most cell types of the mature inner ear. Developmental lineage analyses and gene expression studies suggest that distinct progenitor populations are compartmentalized to discrete axial domains in the early otocyst. Here, we conducted highly parallel quantitative RT-PCR measurements on 382 individual cells from the developing otocyst and neuroblast lineages to assay 96 genes representing established otic markers, signaling-pathway-associated transcripts, and novel otic-specific genes. By applying multivariate cluster, principal component, and network analyses to the data matrix, we were able to readily distinguish the delaminating neuroblasts and to describe progressive states of gene expression in this population at single-cell resolution. It further established a three-dimensional model of the otocyst in which each individual cell can be precisely mapped into spatial expression domains. Our bioinformatic modeling revealed spatial dynamics of different signaling pathways active during early neuroblast development and prosensory domain specification.
    Cell 04/2014; · 31.96 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Acetylation of α-tubulin on lysine 40 marks long-lived microtubules in structures such as axons and cilia, yet the physiological role of α-tubulin K40 acetylation remains elusive. While genetic ablation of the α-tubulin K40 acetyltransferase αTat1 in mice did not lead to detectable phenotypes in the developing animals, contact inhibition of proliferation and cell-substrate adhesion were significantly compromised in cultured αTat1(-/-) fibroblasts. First, αTat1(-/-) fibroblasts kept proliferating beyond the confluent monolayer stage. Congruently, αTat1(-/-) cells failed to activate Hippo signaling in response to increased cell density and the microtubule association of the Hippo regulator Merlin was disrupted. Second, αTat1(-/-) cells contained very few focal adhesions and their ability to adhere to growth surfaces was greatly impaired. While the catalytic activity of αTAT1 was dispensable for monolayer formation, it was necessary for cell adhesion, restrained cell proliferation and activation of the Hippo pathway at elevated cell density. Since α-tubulin K40 acetylation is largely eliminated by deletion of αTAT1, we propose that acetylated microtubules regulate contact inhibition of proliferation through the Hippo pathway.
    Molecular biology of the cell 04/2014; · 5.98 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In mammals, the permanence of many forms of hearing loss is the result of the inner ear's inability to replace lost sensory hair cells. Here, we apply a differentiation strategy to human embryonic stem cells into cells of the otic lineage using chemically-defined attached-substrate conditions. Generation of human otic progenitor cells was dependent on FGF signaling and protracted culture led to the upregulation of markers indicative of differentiated inner ear sensory epithelia. Using a transgenic embryonic stem cell reporter line based on a murine Atoh1 enhancer, we show that differentiated hair cell-like cells express multiple hair cell markers simultaneously. Hair cell-like cells displayed protrusions reminiscent of stereociliary bundles, but failed to fully mature into cells with typical hair cell cytoarchitecture. We conclude that optimized defined conditions can be used in vitro to attain otic progenitor specification and sensory cell differentiation.
    Stem cells and development 02/2014; · 4.15 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the cochlear nucleus (CN), the first central relay of the auditory pathway, the survival of neurons during the first weeks after birth depends on afferent innervation from the cochlea. Although input-dependent neuron survival has been extensively studied in the CN, neurogenesis has not been evaluated as a possible mechanism of postnatal plasticity. Here we show that new neurons are born in the CN during the critical period of postnatal plasticity. Coincidently, we found a population of neural progenitor cells that are controlled by a complex interplay of Wnt, Notch, and TGFβ/BMP signaling, in which low levels of TGFβ/BMP signaling are permissive for progenitor proliferation that is promoted by Wnt and Notch activation. We further show that cells with activated Wnt signaling reside in the CN and that these cells have high propensity for neurosphere formation. Cochlear ablation resulted in diminishment of progenitors and Wnt/β-catenin-active cells, suggesting that the neonatal CN maintains an afferent innervation-dependent population of progenitor cells that display active canonical Wnt signaling.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Permanent hearing loss is caused by the irreversible damage of cochlear sensory hair cells and nonsensory supporting cells. In the postnatal cochlea, the sensory epithelium is terminally differentiated, whereas tympanic border cells (TBCs) beneath the sensory epithelium are proliferative. The functions of TBCs are poorly characterized. Using an Axin2(lacZ) Wnt reporter mouse, we found transient but robust Wnt signaling and proliferation in TBCs during the first 3 postnatal weeks, when the number of TBCs decreases. In vivo lineage tracing shows that a subset of hair cells and supporting cells is derived postnatally from Axin2-expressing TBCs. In cochlear explants, Wnt agonists stimulated the proliferation of TBCs, whereas Wnt inhibitors suppressed it. In addition, purified Axin2(lacZ) cells were clonogenic and self-renewing in culture in a Wnt-dependent manner, and were able to differentiate into hair cell-like and supporting cell-like cells. Taken together, our data indicate that Axin2-positive TBCs are Wnt responsive and can act as precursors to sensory epithelial cells in the postnatal cochlea.
    Development 03/2013; 140(6):1196-206. · 6.60 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: TRPML3 and TRPV5 are members of the mucolipin (TRPML) and TRPV subfamilies of transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channels. Based on sequence similarities of the pore forming regions and on structure-function evidence, we hypothesized that the pore forming domains of TRPML and TRPV5/TRPV6 channels have similarities that indicate possible functional interactions between these TRP channel subfamilies. Here we show that TRPML3 and TRPV5 associate to form a novel heteromeric ion channel. This novel conductance is detectable under conditions that do not activate either TRPML3 or TRPV5. It has pharmacological similarity with TRPML3 and requires functional TRPML3 as well as functional TRPV5. Single channel analyses revealed that TRPML3 and TRPV5 heteromers have different features than the respective homomers, and furthermore, that they occur in potentially distinct stoichiometric configurations. Based on overlapping expression of TRPML3 and TRPV5 in the kidney and the inner ear, we propose that TRPML3 and TRPV5 heteromers could have a biological function in these organs.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(2):e58174. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mammalian FCHSD1 and FCHSD2 are homologous proteins containing an amino-terminal F-BAR domain and two SH3 domains near their carboxyl-termini. We report here that FCHSD1 and FCHSD2 are expressed in mouse cochlear sensory hair cells. FCHSD1 mainly localizes to the cuticular plate, whereas FCHSD2 mainly localizes along the stereocilia in a punctuate pattern. Nervous Wreck (Nwk), the Drosophila ortholog of FCHSD1 and FCHSD2, has been shown to bind Wsp and play an important role in F-actin assembly. We show that, like its Drosophila counterpart, FCHSD2 interacts with WASP and N-WASP, the mammalian orthologs of Drosophila Wsp, and stimulates F-actin assembly in vitro. In contrast, FCHSD1 doesn't bind WASP or N-WASP, and can't stimulate F-actin assembly when tested in vitro. We found, however, that FCHSD1 binds via its F-BAR domain to the SH3 domain of Sorting Nexin 9 (SNX9), a well characterized BAR protein that has been shown to promote WASP-Arp2/3-dependent F-actin polymerization. FCHSD1 greatly enhances SNX9's WASP-Arp2/3-dependent F-actin polymerization activity. In hair cells, SNX9 was detected in the cuticular plate, where it colocalizes with FCHSD1. Our results suggest that FCHSD1 and FCHSD2 could modulate F-actin assembly or maintenance in hair cell stereocilia and cuticular plate.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(2):e56516. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mechanosensitive hair cells and supporting cells comprise the sensory epithelia of the inner ear. The paucity of both cell types has hampered molecular and cell biological studies, which often require large quantities of purified cells. Here, we report a strategy allowing the enrichment of relatively pure populations of vestibular hair cells and non-sensory cells including supporting cells. We utilized specific uptake of fluorescent styryl dyes for labeling of hair cells. Enzymatic isolation and flow cytometry was used to generate pure populations of sensory hair cells and non-sensory cells. We applied mass spectrometry to perform a qualitative high-resolution analysis of the proteomic makeup of both the hair cell and non-sensory cell populations. Our conservative analysis identified more than 600 proteins with a false discovery rate of <3% at the protein level and <1% at the peptide level. Analysis of proteins exclusively detected in either population revealed 64 proteins that were specific to hair cells and 103 proteins that were only detectable in non-sensory cells. Statistical analyses extended these groups by 53 proteins that are strongly upregulated in hair cells versus non-sensory cells and vice versa by 68 proteins. Our results demonstrate that enzymatic dissociation of styryl dye-labeled sensory hair cells and non-sensory cells is a valid method to generate pure enough cell populations for flow cytometry and subsequent molecular analyses.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e66026. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Stefan Heller
    Hearing research 12/2012; · 2.18 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Journal of Neuroscience 10/2012; 32(41):14053-14057. · 6.91 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The transient receptor potential channels TRPML2 and TRPML3 (MCOLN2 and MCOLN3) are nonselective cation channels. They are widely expressed in mammals. However, little is known about their physiological function(s) and activation mechanism(s). TRPML3 can be activated or rather de-inhibited by exposing it first to sodium-free extracellular solution and subsequently to high extracellular sodium. TRPML3 can also be activated by a variety of small chemical compounds identified in a high throughput screen and is inhibited by low pH. Furthermore, it was found that TRPML3 is constitutively active in low or no sodium-containing extracellular solution. This constitutive activity is independent of the intracellular presence of sodium, and whole-cell current densities are similar with pipette solutions containing cesium, potassium, or sodium. Here, we present mutagenesis data generated based on the hypothesis that negatively charged amino acids in the extracellular loops of TRPML3 may interfere with the observed sodium inhibition. We systematically mutated negatively charged amino acids in the first and second extracellular loops and found that mutating Glu-361 in the second loop has a significant impact on the sodium-mediated block of TRPML3. We further demonstrate that the TRPML3-related cation channel TRPML2 is also activated by lowering the extracellular sodium concentration as well as by a subset of small chemical compounds that were previously identified as activators of TRPML3, thus confirming the functional activity of TRPML2 at the plasma membrane and suggesting similar gating mechanisms for both TRPML channels.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2012; 287(27):22701-8. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Mohammad Ronaghi, Marjan Nasr, Stefan Heller
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hearing loss, caused by irreversible loss of cochlear sensory hair cells, affects millions of patients worldwide. In this concise review, we examine the conundrum of inner ear stem cells, which obviously are present in the inner ear sensory epithelia of nonmammalian vertebrates, giving these ears the ability to functionally recover even from repetitive ototoxic insults. Despite the inability of the mammalian inner ear to regenerate lost hair cells, there is evidence for cells with regenerative capacity because stem cells can be isolated from vestibular sensory epithelia and from the neonatal cochlea. Challenges and recent progress toward identification of the intrinsic and extrinsic signaling pathways that could be used to re-establish stemness in the mammalian organ of Corti are discussed.
    Stem Cells 11/2011; 30(1):69-74. · 7.70 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In patients with severe to profound hearing loss, cochlear implants (CIs) are currently the only therapeutic option when the amplification with conventional hearing aids does no longer lead to a useful hearing experience. Despite its great success, there are patients in which benefit from these devices is rather limited. One reason may be a poor neuron-device interaction, where the electric fields generated by the electrode array excite a wide range of tonotopically organized spiral ganglion neurons at the cost of spatial resolution. Coating of CI electrodes to provide a welcoming environment combined with suitable surface chemistry (e.g. with neurotrophic factors) has been suggested to create a closer bioelectrical interface between the electrode array and the target tissue, which might lead to better spatial resolution, better frequency discrimination, and ultimately may improve speech perception in patients. Here we investigate the use of a collagen surface with a cholesteric banding structure, whose orientation can be systemically controlled as a guiding structure for neurite outgrowth. We demonstrate that spiral ganglion neurons survive on collagen-coated surfaces and display a directed neurite growth influenced by the direction of collagen fibril deposition. The majority of neurites grow parallel to the orientation direction of the collagen. We suggest collagen coating as a possible future option in CI technology to direct neurite outgrowth and improve hearing results for affected patients.
    Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology 09/2011; 269(4):1111-6. · 1.29 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The inner ear arises from multipotent placodal precursors that are gradually committed to the otic fate and further differentiate into all inner ear cell types, with the exception of a few immigrating neural crest-derived cells. The otocyst plays a pivotal role during inner ear development: otic progenitor cells sub-compartmentalize into non-sensory and prosensory domains, giving rise to individual vestibular and auditory organs and their associated ganglia. The genes and pathways underlying this progressive subdivision and differentiation process are not entirely known. The goal of this study was to identify a comprehensive set of genes expressed in the chicken otocyst using the serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) method. Our analysis revealed several hundred transcriptional regulators, potential signaling proteins, and receptors. We identified a substantial collection of genes that were previously known in the context of inner ear development, but we also found many new candidate genes, such as SOX4, SOX5, SOX7, SOX8, SOX11, and SOX18, which previously were not known to be expressed in the developing inner ear. Despite its limitation of not being all-inclusive, the generated otocyst SAGE library is a practical bioinformatics tool to study otocyst gene expression and to identify candidate genes for developmental studies.
    Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 08/2011; 12(6):697-710. · 2.95 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In peripheral nerves, Schwann cells form the myelin sheath that insulates axons and allows rapid propagation of action potentials. Although a number of regulators of Schwann cell development are known, the signaling pathways that control myelination are incompletely understood. In this study, we show that Gpr126 is essential for myelination and other aspects of peripheral nerve development in mammals. A mutation in Gpr126 causes a severe congenital hypomyelinating peripheral neuropathy in mice, and expression of differentiated Schwann cell markers, including Pou3f1, Egr2, myelin protein zero and myelin basic protein, is reduced. Ultrastructural studies of Gpr126-/- mice showed that axonal sorting by Schwann cells is delayed, Remak bundles (non-myelinating Schwann cells associated with small caliber axons) are not observed, and Schwann cells are ultimately arrested at the promyelinating stage. Additionally, ectopic perineurial fibroblasts form aberrant fascicles throughout the endoneurium of the mutant sciatic nerve. This analysis shows that Gpr126 is required for Schwann cell myelination in mammals, and defines new roles for Gpr126 in axonal sorting, formation of mature non-myelinating Schwann cells and organization of the perineurium.
    Development 07/2011; 138(13):2673-80. · 6.60 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The lack of cochlear regenerative potential is the main cause for the permanence of hearing loss. Albeit quiescent in vivo, dissociated non-sensory cells from the neonatal cochlea proliferate and show ability to generate hair cell-like cells in vitro. Only a few non-sensory cell-derived colonies, however, give rise to hair cell-like cells, suggesting that sensory progenitor cells are a subpopulation of proliferating non-sensory cells. Here we purify from the neonatal mouse cochlea four different non-sensory cell populations by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). All four populations displayed proliferative potential, but only lesser epithelial ridge and supporting cells robustly gave rise to hair cell marker-positive cells. These results suggest that cochlear supporting cells and cells of the lesser epithelial ridge show robust potential to de-differentiate into prosensory cells that proliferate and undergo differentiation in similar fashion to native prosensory cells of the developing inner ear.
    Scientific Reports 01/2011; 1:26. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • M Diensthuber, S Heller
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In contrast to regenerating hair cell-bearing organs of nonmammalian vertebrates the adult mammalian organ of Corti appears to have lost its ability to maintain stem cells. The result is a lack of regenerative ability and irreversible hearing loss following auditory hair cell death. Unexpectedly, the neonatal auditory sensory epithelium has recently been shown to harbor cells with stem cell features. The origin of these cells within the cochlea's sensory epithelium is unknown. We applied a modified neurosphere assay to identify stem cells within distinct subregions of the neonatal mouse auditory sensory epithelium. Sphere cells were characterized by multiple markers and morphologic techniques. Our data reveal that both the greater and the lesser epithelial ridge contribute to the sphere-forming stem cell population derived from the auditory sensory epithelium. These self-renewing sphere cells express a variety of markers for neural and otic progenitor cells and mature inner ear cell types. Stem cells can be isolated from specific regions of the auditory sensory epithelium. The distinct features of these cells imply a potential application in the development of a cell replacement therapy to regenerate the damaged sensory epithelium.
    HNO 11/2010; 58(11):1056, 1058, 1060-6. · 0.42 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Zhigang Xu, Kazuo Oshima, Stefan Heller
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The atypical cadherin protein cadherin 23 (CDH23) is crucial for proper function of retinal photoreceptors and inner ear hair cells. As we obtain more and more information about the specific roles of cadherin 23 in photoreceptors and hair cells, the regulatory mechanisms responsible for the transport of this protein to the plasma membrane are largely unknown. PIST, a Golgi-associated, PDZ domain-containing protein, interacted with cadherin 23 via the PDZ domain of PIST and the C-terminal PDZ domain-binding interface (PBI) of cadherin 23. By binding to cadherin 23, PIST retained cadherin 23 in the trans-Golgi network of cultured cells. The retention was released when either of the two known cadherin 23-binding proteins MAGI-1 and harmonin was co-expressed. Similar to MAGI-1 and harmonin, PIST was detected in mouse inner ear sensory hair cells. PIST binds cadherin 23 via its PDZ domain and retains cadherin 23 in trans-Golgi network. MAGI-1 and harmonin can compete with PIST for binding cadherin 23 and release cadherin 23 from PIST's retention. Our finding suggests that PIST, MAGI-1 and harmonin collaborate in intracellular trafficking of cadherin 23 and regulate the plasma membrane expression of cadherin 23.
    BMC Cell Biology 10/2010; 11:80. · 2.81 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: TRPV5, a member of transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily of ion channels, plays a crucial role in epithelial calcium transport in the kidney. This channel has a high selectivity for Ca(2+) and is tightly regulated by intracellular Ca(2+) concentrations. Recently it was shown that the molecular basis of deafness in varitint-waddler mouse is the result of hair cell death caused by the constitutive activity of transient receptor potential mucolipin 3 (TRPML3) channel carrying a helix breaking mutation, A419P, at the intracellular proximity of the fifth transmembrane domain (TM5). This mutation significantly elevates intracellular Ca(2+) concentration and causes rapid cell death. Here we show that substituting the equivalent location in TRPV5, the M490, to proline significantly modulates Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation of TRPV5. The single channel conductance, time constant of inactivation (τ) and half maximal inhibition constant (IC(50)) of TRPV5(M490P) were increased compared to TRPV5(WT). Moreover TRPV5(M490P) showed lower Ca(2+) permeability. Out of different point mutations created to characterize the importance of M490 in Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation, only TRPV5(M490P)-expressing cells showed apoptosis and extremely altered Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation. In conclusion, the TRPV5 channel is susceptible for helix breaking mutations and the proximal intracellular region of TM5 of this channel plays an important role in Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation.
    Cell calcium 10/2010; 48(5):275-87. · 4.29 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
511.78 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2007–2014
    • Stanford Medicine
      • Department of Otolaryngology
      Stanford, California, United States
  • 2006–2013
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Otolaryngology
      Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • 2012
    • Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich
      • Department of Pharmacy
      München, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2010
    • University Hospital Frankfurt
      Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany
  • 2009
    • Oregon Health and Science University
      Portland, Oregon, United States
    • Fudan University
      • Department of Otolaryngology
      Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
  • 2008
    • Inselspital, Universitätsspital Bern
      Berna, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2002–2007
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Otology and Laryngology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2003
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Division of Health Sciences and Technology
      Boston, MA, United States
    • Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
      • Laryngology Division
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1997–2003
    • The Rockefeller University
      • • Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience
      • • Laboratory of Molecular Genetics
      New York City, NY, United States