Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28179572
Link to HAL – pasteur-01486996
Link to DOI – 10.1073/pnas.1618778114
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2017, 114 (8), pp.2054-2059. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1618778114⟩
The remarkable hearing capacities of mammals arise from various evolutionary innovations. These include the cochlear outer hair cells and their singular feature, somatic electromotility, i.e., the ability of their cylindrical cell body to shorten and elongate upon cell depolarization and hyperpolarization, respectively. To shed light on the processes underlying the emergence of electromotility, we focused on the βV giant spectrin, a major component of the outer hair cells’ cortical cytoskeleton. We identified strong signatures of adaptive evolution at multiple sites along the spectrin-βV amino acid sequence in the lineage leading to mammals, together with substantial differences in the subcellular location of this protein between the frog and the mouse inner ear hair cells. In frog hair cells, spectrin βV was invariably detected near the apical junctional complex and above the cuticular plate, a dense F-actin meshwork located underneath the apical plasma membrane. In the mouse, the protein had a broad punctate cytoplasmic distribution in the vestibular hair cells, whereas it was detected in the entire lateral wall of cochlear outer hair cells and had an intermediary distribution (both cytoplasmic and cortical, but restricted to the cell apical region) in cochlear inner hair cells. Our results support a scenario where the singular organization of the outer hair cells’ cortical cytoskeleton may have emerged from molecular networks initially involved in membrane trafficking, which were present near the apical junctional complex in the hair cells of mammalian ancestors and would have subsequently expanded to the entire lateral wall in outer hair cells.