Cadherins and mechanotransduction by hair cells

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2008 Oct;20(5):557-66. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Jul 30.


Mechanotransduction, the conversion of a mechanical stimulus into an electrical signal is crucial for our ability to hear and to maintain balance. Recent findings indicate that two members of the cadherin superfamily are components of the mechanotransduction machinery in sensory hair cells of the vertebrate inner ear. These studies show that cadherin 23 (CDH23) and protocadherin 15 (PCDH15) form several of the extracellular filaments that connect the stereocilia and kinocilium of a hair cell into a bundle. One of these filaments is the tip link that has been proposed to gate the mechanotransduction channel in hair cells. The extracellular domains of CDH23 and PCDH15 differ in their structure from classical cadherins and their cytoplasmic domains bind to distinct effectors, suggesting that evolutionary pressures have shaped the two cadherins for their function in mechanotransduction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / genetics
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cadherins / chemistry
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Deafness / genetics
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / cytology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Myosins / genetics
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Usher Syndromes / genetics


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • CDH23 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • PCDH15 protein, human
  • USH1C protein, human
  • Myosins