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J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2012 Jun;13(3):323-33. doi: 10.1007/s10162-011-0311-2. Epub 2012 Feb 14.

Altered phenotype of the vestibular organ in GLAST-1 null mice.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Tübingen Hearing Research Centre (THRC), Molecular Physiology of Hearing, University of Tübingen, Elfriede-Aulhorn-Str. 5, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Various studies point to a crucial role of the high-affinity sodium-coupled glutamate aspartate transporter GLAST-1 for modulation of excitatory transmission as shown in the retina and the CNS. While 2-4-month-old GLAST-1 null mice did not show any functional vestibular abnormality, we observed profound circling behavior in older (7 months) animals lacking GLAST-1. An unchanged total number of otoferlin-positive vestibular hair cells (VHCs), similar ribbon numbers in VHCs, and an unchanged VGLUT3 expression in type II VHCs were detected in GLAST-1 null compared to wild-type mice. A partial loss of supporting cells and an apparent decline of a voltage-gated channel potassium subunit (KCNQ4) was observed in postsynaptic calyceal afferents contacting type I VHCs, together with a reduction of neurofilament- (NF200-) and vesicular glutamate transporter 1- (VGLUT1-) positive calyces in GLAST-1 null mice. Taken together, GLAST-1 deletion appeared to preferentially affect the maintenance of a normal postsynaptic/neuronal phenotype, evident only with increasing age.

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