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J Neurosci. 2006 Jun 7;26(23):6172-80.

Splice-site A choice targets plasma-membrane Ca2+-ATPase isoform 2 to hair bundles.

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  • 1Oregon Hearing Research Center, Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA.


Localization of mechanotransduction in sensory hair cells to hair bundles requires selective targeting of essential proteins to specific locations. Isoform 2 of the plasma-membrane Ca2+-ATPase (PMCA2), required for hearing and balance, is found exclusively in hair bundles. We determined the contribution of splicing at the two major splicing sites (A and C) to hair-cell targeting of PMCA2. When PMCA2 isoforms were immunoprecipitated from purified hair bundles of rat utricle, 2w was the only site A variant detected; moreover, immunocytochemistry for 2w in rat vestibular and cochlear tissues indicated that this splice form was located solely in bundles. To demonstrate the necessity of the 2w sequence, we transfected hair cells with PMCA2 containing different variants at splice sites A and C. Although native hair bundles exclusively use the 2a form at splice-site C, epitope-tagged PMCA2w/a and PMCA2w/b were both concentrated in bundles, indicating that site C is not involved in bundle targeting. In contrast, PMCA2z/a was excluded from bundles and was instead targeted to the basolateral plasma membrane. Bundle-specific targeting of PMCA2w/a tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP) was diminished, suggesting that GFP interfered with splice-site A. Together, these data demonstrate that PMCA2w/a is the hair-bundle isoform of PMCA in rat hair cells and that 2w targets PMCA2 to bundles. The 2w sequence is thus the first targeting signal identified for a hair-bundle membrane protein; moreover, the striking distribution of inner-ear PMCA isoforms dictated by selective targeting suggests a critical functional role for segregated pathways of Ca2+ transport.

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