Developmental expression of Kcnq4 in vestibular neurons and neurosensory epithelia

Brain Res. 2007 Mar 30;1139:117-25. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.12.087. Epub 2007 Jan 8.


Sensory signal transduction of the inner ear afferent neurons and hair cells (HCs) requires numerous ionic conductances. The KCNQ4 voltage-gated M-type potassium channel is thought to set the resting membrane potential in cochlear HCs. Here we describe the spatiotemporal expression patterns of Kcnq4 and the associated alternative splice forms in the HCs of vestibular labyrinth. Whole mount immunodetection, qualitative and quantitative RT-PCR were performed to characterize the expression patterns of Kcnq4 transcripts and proteins. A topographical expression and upregulation of Kcnq4 during development was observed and indicated that Kcnq4 is not restricted to either a specific vestibular structure or cell type, but is present in afferent calyxes, vestibular ganglion neurons, and both type I and type II HCs. Of the four alternative splice variants, Kcnq4_v1 transcripts were the predominant form in the HCs, while Kcnq4_v3 was the major variant in the vestibular neurons. Differential quantitative expression of Kcnq4_v1 and Kcnq4_v3 were respectively detected in the striolar and extra-striolar regions of the utricle and saccule. Analysis of gerbils and rats yielded results similar to those obtained in mice, suggesting that the spatiotemporal expression pattern of Kcnq4 in the vestibular system is conserved among rodents. Analyses of vestibular HCs of Bdnf conditional mutant mice, which are devoid of any innervation, demonstrate that regulation of Kcnq4 expression in vestibular HCs is independent of innervation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Hair Cells, Vestibular / cytology
  • Hair Cells, Vestibular / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • KCNQ Potassium Channels / genetics
  • KCNQ Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / cytology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / growth & development
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / innervation
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / metabolism*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • KCNQ Potassium Channels
  • Kcnq4 protein, mouse
  • RNA, Messenger