Sequence similarity between stereocilin and otoancorin points to a unified mechanism for mechanotransduction in the mammalian inner ear

BMC Cell Biol. 2002 Nov 25;3:28. doi: 10.1186/1471-2121-3-28. Epub 2002 Nov 25.


Background: Interaction between hair cells and acellular gels of the mammalian inner ear, the tectorial and otoconial membranes, is crucial for mechanoreception. Recently, otoancorin was suggested to be a mediator of gel attachment to nonsensory cells, but the molecular components of the interface between gels and sensory cells remain to be identified.

Hypothesis: We report that the inner ear protein stereocilin is related in sequence to otoancorin and, based on its localisation and predicted GPI-anchoring, may mediate attachment of the tectorial and otoconial membranes to sensory hair bundles.

Testing: It is expected that antibodies directed against stereocilin would specifically label sites of contact between sensory hair cells and tectorial/otoconial membranes of the inner ear.

Implications: Our findings support a unified molecular mechanism for mechanotransduction, with stereocilin and otoancorin defining a new protein family responsible for the attachment of acellular gels to both sensory and nonsensory cells of the inner ear.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner / chemistry*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Otolithic Membrane / chemistry
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / immunology
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid*
  • Tectorial Membrane / chemistry


  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • OTOA protein, human
  • Otoa protein, mouse
  • Proteins
  • STRC protein, human