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Neurosci Res. 2012 Apr;72(4):296-305. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2012.01.007. Epub 2012 Feb 4.

Severe vestibular dysfunction and altered vestibular innervation in mice lacking prosaposin.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0449, United States.


Prosaposin, a precursor of four glycoprotein activators (saposin A, B, C and D) for lysosomal hydrolases, has previously been shown to be important for normal adult cochlear innervation and the maintenance of normal hearing. In these studies, we now investigate prosaposin in normal vestibular epithelium and the functional impairment of balance caused by prosaposin ablation. In normal mice, prosaposin is localized to all 3 vestibular end-organs (ampullae, saccule, and utricle) and Scarpa's ganglion by RT-PCR, Western blot analysis and immunofluorescence. Ablation of prosaposin function caused severe vestibular dysfunction on a battery of behavioral tasks. Histologically, the KO mice demonstrated an exuberant cellular proliferation below the vestibular hair cells with disruption of the supporting cells. Electron microscopy further demonstrated inclusion bodies and cellular proliferation disturbing the normal neuroepithelial structure of the vestibular end-organs. Lastly, immunofluorescence (neurofilament 200 and synaptophysin) staining suggests that this cellular proliferation corresponds to afferent and efferent neuronal overgrowth. These data suggest that prosaposin plays a role not only in the maintenance of normal hearing but also an important role in the neuronal maturation processes of the vestibular sensory epithelium and the maintenance of normal vestibular system function.

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