Format

Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Genet. 2009 Aug;5(8):e1000610. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000610. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

A claudin-9-based ion permeability barrier is essential for hearing.

Author information

1
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

Abstract

Hereditary hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects, yet the majority of genes required for audition is thought to remain unidentified. Ethylnitrosourea (ENU)-mutagenesis has been a valuable approach for generating new animal models of deafness and discovering previously unrecognized gene functions. Here we report on the characterization of a new ENU-induced mouse mutant (nmf329) that exhibits recessively inherited deafness. We found a widespread loss of sensory hair cells in the hearing organs of nmf329 mice after the second week of life. Positional cloning revealed that the nmf329 strain carries a missense mutation in the claudin-9 gene, which encodes a tight junction protein with unknown biological function. In an epithelial cell line, heterologous expression of wild-type claudin-9 reduced the paracellular permeability to Na+ and K+, and the nmf329 mutation eliminated this ion barrier function without affecting the plasma membrane localization of claudin-9. In the nmf329 mouse line, the perilymphatic K+ concentration was found to be elevated, suggesting that the cochlear tight junctions were dysfunctional. Furthermore, the hair-cell loss in the claudin-9-defective cochlea was rescued in vitro when the explanted hearing organs were cultured in a low-K+ milieu and in vivo when the endocochlear K+-driving force was diminished by deletion of the pou3f4 gene. Overall, our data indicate that claudin-9 is required for the preservation of sensory cells in the hearing organ because claudin-9-defective tight junctions fail to shield the basolateral side of hair cells from the K+-rich endolymph. In the tight-junction complexes of hair cells, claudin-9 is localized specifically to a subdomain that is underneath more apical tight-junction strands formed by other claudins. Thus, the analysis of claudin-9 mutant mice suggests that even the deeper (subapical) tight-junction strands have biologically important ion barrier function.

PMID:
19696885
PMCID:
PMC2720454
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1000610
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center