Cytoskeletal and calcium-binding proteins in the mammalian organ of Corti: cell type-specific proteins displaying longitudinal and radial gradients

Hear Res. 1995 Nov;91(1-2):119-35. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(95)00173-5.


Whole mounts and tissue sections of the organ of Corti from two representative mammalian species, the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) and the guinea pig (Cavea porcellus) were probed with antibodies to cytoskeletal and calcium-binding proteins (actin, tubulin, including post-translational modifications, spectrin, fimbrin, calmodulin, parvalbumin, calbindin, S-100 and calretinin). All of the proteins tested were expressed in both species. New findings include the following. Actin is present in large accumulations in cell bodies of the Deiters cells under the outer hair cells (OHC), as well as in the filament networks previously described. These accumulations are more prominent in the apical turns. Tubulin is present in sensory cells in the tyrosinated (more dynamic) form, while tubulin in the supporting cells is post-translationally modified, indicating greater stability. Fimbrin, present in the stereocilia of both IHCs and OHCs, is similar to the isoform of fimbrin found in the epithelial cells of the intestine (fimbrin-I), which implies that actin bundling by fimbrin is reduced in the presence of increased calcium. Parvalbumin appears to be an IHC-specific calcium-binding protein in the gerbil as well as in the guinea pig; labeling displays a longitudinal gradient, with hair cells at the apex staining intensely and hair cells at the base staining weakly. Calbindin displays a similar longitudinal gradient, with staining intense in the IHCs and OHCs at the apex and weak to absent in the base. In the middle turns of the guinea pig cochlea, OHCs in the first row near the pillar cells lose immunoreactivity to calbindin before those in the second and third rows. Calmodulin is found throughout the whole cochlea in the IHCs and OHCs in the stereocilia, cuticular plate, and cell body. Calretinin is present in IHCs and Deiters cells in both species, as well as the tectal cell (modified Hensen cell) in the gerbil. S-100 is a supporting cell-specific calcium-binding protein which has not been localized in the sensory cells of these two species. The supporting cells containing S-100 include the inner border, inner phalangeal, pillar, Deiters, tectal (in gerbil) and Hensen cells, where labeling displays a longitudinal gradient decreasing in intensity towards the apex (opposite to what has been seen with labeling for other proteins in the cochlea).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Calbindin 2
  • Calbindins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Calmodulin / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Gerbillinae
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / cytology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / metabolism
  • Immunoblotting
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Microfilament Proteins*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Organ of Corti / cytology
  • Organ of Corti / metabolism*
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism
  • Species Specificity
  • Spectrin / metabolism
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Calbindin 2
  • Calbindins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Calmodulin
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Parvalbumins
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • S100 Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • plastin
  • Spectrin