Dominant negative connexin26 mutation R75W causing severe hearing loss influences normal programmed cell death in postnatal organ of Corti
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Juntendo University Faculty of Medicine, Hongo 2-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8431, Japan
BMC Genetics 2014, 15:1 doi:10.1186/1471-2156-15-1Published: 3 January 2014
The greater epithelial ridge (GER) is a developmental structure in the maturation of the organ of Corti. Situated near the inner hair cells of neonatal mice, the GER undergoes a wave of apoptosis after postnatal day 8 (P8). We evaluated the GER from P8 to P12 in transgenic mice that carry the R75W + mutation, a dominant-negative mutation of human gap junction protein, beta 2, 26 kDa (GJB2) (also known as connexin 26 or CX26). Cx26 facilitate intercellular communication within the mammalian auditory organ.
In both non-transgenic (non-Tg) and R75W + mice, some GER cells exhibited apoptotic characteristics at P8. In the GER of non-Tg mice, both the total number of cells and the number of apoptotic cells decreased from P8 to P12. In contrast, apoptotic cells were still clearly evident in the GER of R75W + mice at P12. In R75W + mice, therefore, apoptosis in the GER persisted until a later stage of cochlear development. In addition, the GER of R75W + mice exhibited morphological signs of retention, which may have resulted from diminished levels of apoptosis and/or promotion of cell proliferation during embryogenesis and early postnatal stages of development.
Here we demonstrate that Cx26 dysfunction is associated with delayed apoptosis of GER cells and GER retention. This is the first demonstration that Cx26 may regulate cell proliferation and apoptosis during development of the cochlea.