Sensory perception in the inner ear relies on the hair bundle, the highly polarized brush of movement detectors that crowns hair cells. We previously showed that, in the mouse cochlea, the edge of the forming bundle is defined by the 'bare zone', a microvilli-free sub-region of apical membrane specified by the Insc-LGN-Gαi protein complex. We now report that LGN and Gαi also occupy the very tip of stereocilia that directly abut the bare zone. We demonstrate that LGN and Gαi are both essential for promoting the elongation and differential identity of stereocilia across rows. Interestingly, we also reveal that total LGN-Gαi protein amounts are actively balanced between the bare zone and stereocilia tips, suggesting that early planar asymmetry of protein enrichment at the bare zone confers adjacent stereocilia their tallest identity. We propose that LGN and Gαi participate in a long-inferred signal that originates outside the bundle to model its staircase-like architecture, a property that is essential for direction sensitivity to mechanical deflection and hearing.
Keywords: Gαi; Hair bundle; Hair cell; LGN/Gpsm2; Mouse; Staircase-like organization; Stereocilia.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.