Organization of cell junctions and cytoskeleton in the reticular lamina in normal and ototoxically damaged organ of Corti

Hear Res. 1997 Nov;113(1-2):14-28. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(97)00130-5.


The reticular lamina creates an ion barrier, withstands mechanical stress in the organ of Corti and is able to maintain its integrity during and after severe hair cell loss. Tight junctions maintain the ionic gradient whereas adherens junctions and the cytoskeleton are responsible for the integrity and mechanical resistance of tissues. In this study we used immunofluorescence and electron microscopy to examine the distribution of proteins of tight junctions (cingulin), adherens junctions (E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenin) and the cytoskeleton (actin, cytokeratin and tubulin) in whole-mounts of the normal and ototoxically damaged organ of Corti. In normal ears the proteins of adherens junctions were found in all cell types of the reticular lamina. We now demonstrate that all cells forming the reticular lamina partially overlap each other organizing extensive cell contacts with a complex three-dimensional shape. During scar formation, the tight junctions as well as adherens junctions between hair and supporting cells appeared in two distinct focal planes, which could help to preserve the ionic barrier and tissue integrity during hair cell degeneration. During scar formation all cytoskeletal structures in the reticular lamina were reorganized in a specific spatio-temporal pattern. We present a three-dimensional model of cell contact organization in the reticular lamina of normal ears and during scar formation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cicatrix / metabolism
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Intercellular Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Kanamycin / toxicity
  • Keratins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Organ of Corti / injuries*
  • Organ of Corti / metabolism
  • Organ of Corti / ultrastructure*
  • Tight Junctions / ultrastructure


  • Actins
  • Cadherins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Kanamycin
  • Keratins