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J Exp Biol. 2009 Mar;212(Pt 5):639-47. doi: 10.1242/jeb.022798.

Plasma membrane calcium ATPase required for semicircular canal formation and otolith growth in the zebrafish inner ear.

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Institute of Fisheries Science, College of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Fish otoliths consist of >90% calcium carbonate, the accretion of which depends on acellular endolymph. This study confirms the presence of plasma membrane calcium ATPase 1a isoform (Atp2b1a) in the auditory and vestibular system of a teleost fish. As shown by in situ hybridization, zebrafish atp2b1a is expressed mainly in larval otic placode and lateral-line neuromast as well as in the hair cells within the adult zebrafish inner ear chamber. Zebrafish atp2b1a knockdown by antisense morpholinos reduced the number of hair cells and produced malformation of semicircular canals and smaller otoliths. These defects coincide with unbalanced body orientation. The formation of smaller otoliths in atp2b1a morphants may stem from an impairment of calcium supply in the endolymph. However, otolith formation persists in most morphants, suggesting that other zebrafish Atp2b isoforms or paracellular pathways may also transport calcium into the endolymph. These results suggest that Atp2b1a plays an important role for normal development of the auditory and vestibular system as well as calcium transport in the inner ear of zebrafish.

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