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J Neurocytol. 1999 Oct-Nov;28(10-11):821-35.

Establishment of hair bundle polarity and orientation in the developing vestibular system of the mouse.

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Institute of Laryngology and Otology, University College London 330-332, Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8EE, UK.


The morphological development of the vestibular maculae in the mouse was studied in order to identify elements that may determine how hair-bundle polarity is established. Utricles and saccules develop in parallel. Hair-bundles first appear at embryonic day (E) 13.5. They are initially not polarised and have a kinocilium located at the centre of the cell surface surrounded by stereocilia. Polarisation is rapidly established as the kinocilium becomes eccentrically positioned. The orientation of these polarised bundles is initially not random. It varies systematically across the maculae and the general orientation in utricles is the opposite of that in saccules. At E15.5, in both maculae, hair-bundle orientation angles fall into two populations that differ by approximately 180 degrees defining a line of orientation reversal, the position of which varies little during subsequent maturation. Many more immature hair bundles appear at E15.5 suggesting a second wave of hair cell differentiation is initiated. Otoconial membrane is produced simultaneously across the entire width of both maculae, indicating directional growth of the overlying extracellular matrix is unlikely to influence hair-bundle orientation. Growth of both maculae occurs asymmetrically, essentially outwards from the striola, but it is most pronounced after orientation is defined. Microtubules are prominent in hair cells at the earliest stages of their differentiation, but are oriented parallel to the long axis of the cell and, thus, may not have a role in directing hair-bundle polarity. Microfilament assemblies that are aligned parallel to the apical surface and connect to the adherens junctions in supporting cells could provide a "framework" for hair-bundle orientation. The striated rootlets of ciliary centrioles that are aligned parallel to the cell surface with their tips associated with microfilament assemblies at adherens junctions were the only structural asymmetry identified that might influence the development of hair-bundle polarity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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