Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33009420
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41598-020-73158-1
Sci Rep 2020 Oct; 10(1): 16430
The hair bundle of cochlear hair cells is the site of auditory mechanoelectrical transduction. It is formed by three rows of stiff microvilli-like protrusions of graduated heights, the short, middle-sized, and tall stereocilia. In developing and mature sensory hair cells, stereocilia are connected to each other by various types of fibrous links. Two unconventional cadherins, protocadherin-15 (PCDH15) and cadherin-23 (CDH23), form the tip-links, whose tension gates the hair cell mechanoelectrical transduction channels. These proteins also form transient lateral links connecting neighboring stereocilia during hair bundle morphogenesis. The proteins involved in anchoring these diverse links to the stereocilia dense actin cytoskeleton remain largely unknown. We show that the long isoform of whirlin (L-whirlin), a PDZ domain-containing submembrane scaffold protein, is present at the tips of the tall stereocilia in mature hair cells, together with PCDH15 isoforms CD1 and CD2; L-whirlin localization to the ankle-link region in developing hair bundles moreover depends on the presence of PCDH15-CD1 also localizing there. We further demonstrate that L-whirlin binds to PCDH15 and CDH23 with moderate-to-high affinities in vitro. From these results, we suggest that L-whirlin is part of the molecular complexes bridging PCDH15-, and possibly CDH23-containing lateral links to the cytoskeleton in immature and mature stereocilia.