NEURODEVELOPMENT

Layered haircut underlies hearing

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Science  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6312, pp. 594-595
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6312.594-g

Inner-ear sensory hair cells are specifically organized.

PHOTO: SUSUMU NISHINAGA/SCIENCE SOURCE

Hair cells deep within the ear transduce sound into hearing. On any single hair cell, a pack of stereocilia is neatly arranged from tallest to shortest. When the stereocilia do not develop adequately, deafness ensues. Studying mice, Tarchini et al. discovered some of the key signaling components that organize stereocilia during development. Two regulators of G proteins, the leucine-glycine-asparagine repeat protein and an inhibitory α-subunit of heterotrimeric G protein, coordinate to define the tallest row of stereocilia. Both regulators are expressed in the bare zone of the hair cell, a surface domain that will not produce stereocilia, and also in the very tips of the row of stereocilia adjacent to the bare zone. These stereocilia will emerge as the tallest of the crowd. If this signaling pathway is disrupted, stereocilia develop to more even and modest heights, and the animal is deaf.

Development 10.1242/dev.139089 (2016).

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