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J Comp Neurol. 2010 Sep 15;518(18):3785-802. doi: 10.1002/cne.22424.

Oncomodulin identifies different hair cell types in the mammalian inner ear.

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Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology and the Brain Research Institute, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


The tight regulation of Ca(2+) is essential for inner ear function, and yet the role of Ca(2+) binding proteins (CaBPs) remains elusive. By using immunofluorescence and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we investigated the expression of oncomodulin (Ocm), a member of the parvalbumin family, relative to other EF-hand CaBPs in cochlear and vestibular organs in the mouse. In the mouse cochlea, Ocm is found only in outer hair cells and is localized preferentially to the basolateral outer hair cell membrane and to the base of the hair bundle. Developmentally, Ocm immunoreactivity begins as early as postnatal day (P) 2 and shows preferential localization to the basolateral membrane and hair bundle after P8. Unlike the cochlea, Ocm expression is substantially reduced in vestibular tissues at older adult ages. In vestibular organs, Ocm is found in type I striolar or central hair cells, and has a more diffuse subcellular localization throughout the hair cell body. Additionally, Ocm immunoreactivity in vestibular hair cells is present as early as E18 and is not obviously affected by mutations that cause a disruption of hair bundle polarity. We also find Ocm expression in striolar hair cells across mammalian species. These data suggest that Ocm may have distinct functional roles in cochlear and vestibular hair cells.

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