Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New images reveal how the ear's sensory hairs take shape

12.02.2018

Our ears are exquisite detection instruments, capable of discerning a whisper or distinct notes of music within a symphony. To pick up these sounds, tiny hair-like filaments in the inner ear must be packed into precisely arranged bundles, all facing the same direction. Images of the normal, tidy architecture of these bundles on cells within the cochlea, the inner ear structure responsible for hearing, were captured by researchers in A. James Hudspeth's lab at The Rockefeller University (top image). This is part of an effort to understand how these hair bundles are constructed and aligned. Together with a collaborator at The Jackson Laboratory, they have recently identified a molecule that coordinates this process, a discovery that helps explain an important stage in the development of our sense of hearing.

Scientists already knew that a molecular blueprint guides the formation of upside-down V-shaped bundles on the surface of inner ear cells that detect sound, motion, and spatial orientation.


To pick up these sounds, tiny hair-like filaments in the inner ear must be packed into precisely arranged bundles, all facing the same direction (top). Researchers identified a protein essential to this process.

Credit: Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University

Usage Restrictions: Image may be used only to illustrate the research described in the accompanying release.

While investigating how cells draw up these blueprints, Kimberly Siletti, a graduate student in the lab, found evidence implicating a protein called Daple. It was already known to interact with a so-called compass structure, ensuring that the V-shape bundles are aligned properly to catch sound propagating through the cochlea.

Understanding these molecular orientation systems is critical because if disrupted the bundles grow facing the wrong direction, sometimes even backward. For the bundle to develop properly, the blueprint and the compass must work together.

"These two systems were discovered independently, and it isn't clear how they are coordinated," Siletti says. "Our experiments suggest that Daple is part of the molecular machinery that links them."

To test this hypothesis, the researchers switched off the protein in mice. The effect of this manipulation, captured in high-resolution, was conspicuous: the hair cells of animals that lacked the protein developed scrambled bundles without the distinctive V-shape (bottom image).

The scientists think Daple influences the shape of the hair bundles indirectly, by determining the position of the first filament to emerge at what becomes the apex of each bundle. If that filament is positioned improperly, the blueprint becomes warped. Their work was described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Media Contact

Katherine Fenz
kfenz@rockefeller.edu
212-327-7913

 @rockefelleruniv

http://www.rockefeller.edu 

Katherine Fenz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.rockefeller.edu/news/21275-glimpse-ears-sensory-hairs-develop/
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1716522115

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Staying in Shape
16.08.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

nachricht Chips, light and coding moves the front line in beating bacteria
16.08.2018 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>