A deafness mechanism of digenic Cx26 (GJB2) and Cx30 (GJB6) mutations: Reduction of endocochlear potential by impairment of heterogeneous gap junctional function in the cochlear lateral wall

Ling Mei, Jin Chen, Liang Zong, Yan Zhu, Chun Liang, Raleigh O. Jones, Hong Bo Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Digenic Connexin26 (Cx26, GJB2) and Cx30 (GJB6) heterozygous mutations are the second most frequent cause of recessive deafness in humans. However, the underlying deafness mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we created different double Cx26 and Cx30 heterozygous (Cx26+/−/Cx30+/−) mouse models to investigate the underlying pathological changes and deafness mechanism. We found that double Cx26+/−/Cx30+/− heterozygous mice had hearing loss. Endocochlear potential (EP), which is a driving force for hair cells producing auditory receptor current, was reduced. However, unlike Cx26 homozygous knockout (Cx26−/−) mice, the cochlea in Cx26+/−/Cx30+/− mice displayed normal development and had no apparent hair cell degeneration. Gap junctions (GJs) in the cochlea form two independent networks: the epithelial cell GJ network in the organ of Corti and the connective tissue GJ network in the cochlear lateral wall. We further found that double heterozygous deletion of Cx26 and Cx30 in the epithelial cells did not reduce EP and had normal hearing, suggesting that Cx26+/−/Cx30+/− may mainly impair gap junctional functions in the cochlear lateral wall and lead to EP reduction and hearing loss. Most of Cx26 and Cx30 in the cochlear lateral wall co-expressed in the same gap junctional plaques. Moreover, sole Cx26+/− or Cx30+/− heterozygous mice had no hearing loss. These data further suggest that digenic Cx26 and Cx30 mutations may impair heterozygous coupling of Cx26 and Cx30 in the cochlear lateral wall to reduce EP, thereby leading to hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-203
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Volume108
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Cochlea
  • Connexin
  • Cx26
  • Cx30
  • Deafness
  • Endocochlear potential
  • Gap junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology

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