Sensory hair cells require control of physical properties of their apical plasma membranes for normal development and function. Members of the ADP-ribosylation factor (ARF) small GTPase family regulate membrane trafficking and cytoskeletal assembly in many cells. We identified ELMO domain-containing protein 1 (ELMOD1), a guanine nucleoside triphosphatase activating protein (GAP) for ARF6, as the most highly enriched ARF regulator in hair cells. To characterize ELMOD1 control of trafficking, we analyzed mice of both sexes from a strain lacking functional ELMOD1 [roundabout (rda)]. In rda/rda mice, cuticular plates of utricle hair cells initially formed normally, then degenerated after postnatal day 5; large numbers of vesicles invaded the compromised cuticular plate. Hair bundles initially developed normally, but the cell’s apical membrane lifted away from the cuticular plate, and stereocilia elongated and fused. Membrane trafficking in type I hair cells, measured by FM1-43 dye labeling, was altered in rda/rda mice. Consistent with the proposed GAP role for ELMOD1, the ARF6 GTP/GDP ratio was significantly elevated in rda/rda utricles compared with controls, and the level of ARF6-GTP was correlated with the severity of the rda/rda phenotype. These results suggest that conversion of ARF6 to its GDP-bound form is necessary for final stabilization of the hair bundle.
- Hair cells
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