Expression of alpha and beta parvalbumin is differentially regulated in the rat organ of corti during development

J Neurobiol. 2004 Mar;58(4):479-92. doi: 10.1002/neu.10289.


The expression of two calcium-binding proteins of the parvalbumin (PV) family, the alpha isoform (alphaPV) and the beta isoform known as oncomodulin (OM), was investigated in the rat cochlea during postnatal development and related to cholinergic efferent innervation. Using RT-PCR analysis, we found that OM expression begins between postnatal day 2 (P2) and P4, and peaks as early as P10, while alphaPV mRNA begins expression before birth and remains highly expressed into the adult period. Both in situ hybridization and immunoreactivity confirm that OM is uniquely expressed by the outer hair cells (OHCs) in the rat cochlea and occurs after efferent innervation along the cochlear spiral between P2 and P4. In contrast to OM expression, alphaPV immunoreactivity is expressed in both inner hair cells (IHCs) and OHCs at birth. Following olivocochlear efferent innervation, OHCs demonstrate weak OM immunoreactivity beginning at P5 and diminished alphaPV immunoreactivity after P10. In organ cultures isolated prior to the efferent innervation of OHCs, OM immunoreactivity failed to develop in OHCs, but alphaPV immunoreactivity remained present in both IHCs and OHCs. In contrast, organ cultures isolated after efferent innervation of OHCs show OHCs with low levels of OM immunoreactivity and high levels of alphaPV immunoreactivity. This study suggests that OM and alphaPV are differentially regulated in OHCs during cochlear development. Our findings further raise the possibility that the expression of PV proteins in OHCs may be influenced by efferent innervation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Organ of Corti / chemistry
  • Organ of Corti / metabolism*
  • Parvalbumins / analysis
  • Parvalbumins / biosynthesis*
  • Parvalbumins / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Parvalbumins
  • oncomodulin