Differential expression of beta tubulin isotypes in the adult gerbil cochlea

Hear Res. 2000 Oct;148(1-2):161-72. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(00)00149-0.


Tubulin, the principal component of microtubules, exists as two polypeptides, termed alpha and beta. Seven isotypes of beta tubulin are known to exist in mammals. The distributions of four beta tubulin isotypes, beta(I), beta(II), beta(III), and beta(IV), have been examined in the adult cochlea by indirect immunofluorescence using isotype-specific antibodies. In the organ of Corti, outer hair cells contained only beta(I) and beta(IV), while inner hair cells contained only beta(I) and beta(II). Inner and outer pillar cells contained beta(II) and beta(IV), but Deiters cells contained those isotypes plus beta(I). Fine fibers in the inner spiral bundle, tunnel crossing fibers, and outer spiral fibers, probably efferent in character, contained beta(I), beta(II), and beta(III), but not beta(IV). In the spiral ganglion, the somas and axons of neurons contained all four isotypes, and the myelination of ganglion cells also contained beta(I). Fibers of the intraganglionic spiral bundle contained beta(I), beta(II), and beta(III). No antibody labeled the dendritic processes of spiral ganglion neurons. The differences in isotype distribution in organ of Corti and neurons described here are consistent with and support the multi-tubulin hypothesis, which states that tubulin isotypes are expressed specifically in different cell types and may therefore have different functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cochlea / cytology
  • Cochlea / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner / metabolism
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / metabolism
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Organ of Corti / cytology
  • Organ of Corti / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Spiral Ganglion / cytology
  • Spiral Ganglion / metabolism
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Tubulin