Stereocilia side links are directly involved in the maintenance of stereociliary bundle integrity in hair cells. The structure of the stereocilia side links and morphology of the auditory hair bundle in relation to noise exposure in the chinchilla was investigated by transmission electron microscopy. The outer hair cell (OHC) stereocilia side link was suggested to consist of extracellular, juxta-membrane and thin filamentous regions. Two beaded filaments were folded at their distal ends and fastened in one globule in the center between stereocilia. An intracellular, submembraneous layer appeared to form a bridge between the actin core and the extracellular, juxta-membrane region of the side link. In normal physiological conditions, most OHC stereocilia had a regular distribution of side links, forming a 'zipper-like' lattice between stereocilium shafts. Side links of the inner hair cell (IHC) stereocilia had a similar filamentous appearance, but were observed less commonly and had decreased structural organization compared to those of the OHC stereocilia. Ultrastructural analysis of OHC and IHC stereocilia showed that a large number of the side links could survive acoustic stimulation of 114 dB SPL for 2 hrs or 123 dB SPL for 15 min, that resulted in temporarily elevated hearing thresholds in all animals. Disarray, separation, close attachment and fusion of stereocilia were more frequently observed for IHC stereocilia and OHC stereocilia that were poorly connected or that lacked side links. Most disarrayed OHC and IHC stereocilia recovered to a normal erect state with restored orientation of the side links after 14-28 days, which correlated with near-complete recovery of auditory sensitivity. However, direct attachment of plasma membranes, ruptured links, fusion and blebs were seen on some stereocilia even after 28 days and appear to be permanent.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Neurocytology|
|State||Published - Nov 2003|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to Dr. Richard Goodyear for critical reading of manuscript. This research was supported by 1R03 DC 04464-01A1 grants from NIDCD and the International Hearing Foundation. The computations were performed on SGI Origin 3800 computer at Supercomputer Institute of University of Minnesota.