Deafness in TRbeta mutants is caused by malformation of the tectorial membrane

J Neurosci. 2009 Feb 25;29(8):2581-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3557-08.2009.


Thyroid hormone receptor beta (TRbeta) dysfunction leads to deafness in humans and mice. Deafness in TRbeta(-/-) mutant mice has been attributed to TRbeta-mediated control of voltage- and Ca(2+)-activated K(+) (BK) channel expression in inner hair cells (IHCs). However, normal hearing in young constitutive BKalpha(-/-) mutants contradicts this hypothesis. Here, we show that mice with hair cell-specific deletion of TRbeta after postnatal day 11 (P11) have a delay in BKalpha expression but normal hearing, indicating that the origin of hearing loss in TRbeta(-/-) mutant mice manifested before P11. Analyzing the phenotype of IHCs in constitutive TRbeta(-/-) mice, we found normal Ca(2+) current amplitudes, exocytosis, and shape of compound action potential waveforms. In contrast, reduced distortion product otoacoustic emissions and cochlear microphonics associated with an abnormal structure of the tectorial membrane and enhanced tectorin levels suggest that disturbed mechanical performance is the primary cause of deafness resulting from TRbeta deficiency.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Deafness / genetics*
  • Deafness / pathology*
  • Exocytosis / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous / genetics
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous / physiology
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / genetics
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / metabolism*
  • Tectorial Membrane / physiopathology*
  • Thyroid Hormone Receptors beta / deficiency*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated
  • Thyroid Hormone Receptors beta
  • tectonin I
  • tectonin II