Molecular characterization of anion exchangers in the cochlea
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- Zimmermann, U., Köpschall, I., Rohbock, K. et al. Mol Cell Biochem (2000) 205: 25. doi:10.1023/A:1007002916772
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Anion exchange proteins (AE) in the inner ear have been the focus of attention for some time. They have been suggested to play a role as anion exchangers for the regulation of endolymphatic pH or as anion exchangers and anchor proteins for the maintenance of the shape and turgor of outer hair cells, and they also have been discussed as a candidate protein for motile hair cell responses that follow high-frequency stimulation. The existence of anion exchangers in hair cells and the specific isoforms which are expressed in hair cells and the organ of Corti is controversial. Using a polyclonal antibody to AE1 (AB1992, Chemicon), we immunoprecipitated a 100 kDa AE polypeptide in isolated outer hair cells which, due to its glycosylation, is comprised of AE2 than AE1 isoforms. We confirmed AE2 expression in outer hair cells with the help of subtype-specific monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies to AE, AE subtype-specific primers and AE subtype-specific cDNA and found glycosylated truncated as well as full-length AE2 isoforms. No AE1 or AE3 subtypes were noted in outer hair cells. In contrast, AE2 and AE3 but not AE1 subtypes were seen in supporting cells of the organ of Corti. Their expression preceded the development of cochlear function, coincident with the establishment of the endocochlear potential and the differentiation of supporting cells. While most developmental processes in the inner ear usually begin in the basal cochlear turn, the AE2 expression in outer hair cells (but not that of AE2 and AE3 in supporting cells) progressed from the apical to the basal cochlear turn, reminiscent of the maturation of frequency-dependency. Irrespective of their presumed individual role as either anion exchanger, anchor protein or motility protein, the differential expression and developmental profile of these proteins suggest a most important role of anion exchange proteins in the development of normal hearing. These findings may also provide novel insights into AE function in general.