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Hair Cells: From Molecules to Function

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Front. Mol. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00356

Cell-specific transcriptome analysis shows that adult pillar and Deiters’ cells express genes encoding machinery for specializations of cochlear hair cells

 Huizhan Liu1, Lei Chen2,  Kimberlee P. Giffen1, Sean T. Stringham1,  Yi Li3,  Paul D. Judge4, Kirk W. Beisel1 and  David Z. He1*
  • 1Creighton University School of Medicine, United States
  • 2Chongqing Academy of Animal Science, China
  • 3Beijing Tongren Hospital, China
  • 4University of Nebraska Medical Center, United States

The mammalian auditory sensory epithelium, the organ of Corti, is composed of hair cells and supporting cells. Hair cells contain specializations in the apical, basolateral and synaptic membranes. These specializations mediate mechanotransduction, electrical and mechanical activities and synaptic transmission. Supporting cells maintain homeostasis of the ionic and chemical environment of the cochlea and contribute to the stiffness of the cochlear partition. While spontaneous proliferation and transdifferentiation of supporting cells are the source of the regenerative response to replace lost hair cells in lower vertebrates, supporting cells in adult mammals no longer retain that capability. An important first step to revealing the basic biological properties of supporting cells is to characterize their cell-type specific transcriptomes. Using RNA-seq, we examined the transcriptomes of 1,000 pillar and 1,000 Deiters’ cells, as well as the two types of hair cells, individually collected from adult CBA/J mouse cochleae using a suction pipette technique. Our goal was to determine whether pillar and Deiters’ cells, the commonly targeted cells for hair cell replacement, express the genes known for encoding machinery for hair cell specializations in the apical, basolateral, and synaptic membranes. We showed that both pillar and Deiters’ cells express these genes, with pillar cells being more similar to hair cells than Deiters’ cells. The fact that adult pillar and Deiters' cells express the genes cognate to hair cell specializations provides a strong molecular basis for targeting these cells for mammalian hair cell replacement after hair cells are lost due to damage.

Keywords: Transcriptome, Pillar cells, Deiters' cells, Hair cells, RNA-seq analysis, Adult mouse

Received: 24 May 2018; Accepted: 11 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Albert Quintana, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Reviewed by:

Agnieszka J. Szczepek, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
Sergi Simó, University of California, Davis, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Liu, Chen, Giffen, Stringham, Li, Judge, Beisel and He. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. David Z. He, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, United States,