To understand how cells differentially use the dozens of myosin isozymes present in each genome, we examined the distribution of four unconventional myosin isozymes in the inner ear, a tissue that is particularly reliant on actin-rich structures and unconventional myosin isozymes. Of the four isozymes, each from a different class, three are expressed in the hair cells of amphibia and mammals. In stereocilia, constructed of cross-linked F-actin filaments, myosin-Iβ is found mostly near stereociliary tips, myosin-VI is largely absent, and myosin-VIIa colocalizes with cross-links that connect adjacent stereocilia. In the cuticular plate, a meshwork of actin filaments, myosin-Iβ is excluded, myosin-VI is concentrated, and modest amounts of myosin-VIIa are present. These three myosin isozymes are excluded from other actin-rich domains, including the circumferential actin belt and the cortical actin network. A member of a fourth class, myosin-V, is not expressed in hair cells but is present at high levels in afferent nerve cells that innervate hair cells. Substantial amounts of myosins-Iβ, -VI, and -VIIa are located in a pericuticular necklace that is largely free of F-actin, squeezed between (but not associated with) actin of the cuticular plate and the circumferential belt. Our localization results suggest specific functions for three hair-cell myosin isozymes. As suggested previously, myosin-Iβ probably plays a role in adaptation; concentration of myosin-VI in cuticular plates and association with stereociliary rootlets suggest that this isozyme participates in rigidly anchoring stereocilia; and finally, colocalization with cross-links between adjacent stereocilia indicates that myosin-VIIa is required for the structural integrity of hair bundles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology