| cell physiol biochem Galphai Proteins are Indispensable for Hearing.
Beer-Hammer S, Lee SC, Mauriac SA, Leiss V, Groh IAM, Novakovic A, Piekorz RP, Bucher K, Chen C, Ni K, Singer W, Harasztosi C, Schimmang T, Zimmermann U, Pfeffer K, Birnbaumer L, Forge A, Montcouquiol M, Knipper M, Nurnberg B, Ruttiger L
BACKGROUND/AIMS: From invertebrates to mammals, Galphai proteins act together with their common binding partner Gpsm2 to govern cell polarization and planar organization in virtually any polarized cell. Recently, we demonstrated that Galphai3-deficiency in pre-hearing murine cochleae pointed to a role of Galphai3 for asymmetric migration of the kinocilium as well as the orientation and shape of the stereociliary ('hair') bundle, a requirement for the progression of mature hearing. We found that the lack of Galphai3 impairs stereociliary elongation and hair bundle shape in high-frequency cochlear regions, linked to elevated hearing thresholds for high-frequency sound. How these morphological defects translate into hearing phenotypes is not clear. METHODS: Here, we studied global and conditional Gnai3 and Gnai2 mouse mutants deficient for either one or both Galphai proteins. Comparative analyses of global versus Foxg1-driven conditional mutants that mainly delete in the inner ear and telencephalon in combination with functional tests were applied to dissect essential and redundant functions of different Galphai isoforms and to assign specific defects to outer or inner hair cells, the auditory nerve, satellite cells or central auditory neurons. RESULTS: Here we report that lack of Galphai3 but not of the ubiquitously expressed Galphai2 elevates hearing threshold, accompanied by impaired hair bundle elongation and shape in high-frequency cochlear regions. During the crucial reprogramming of the immature inner hair cell (IHC) synapse into a functional sensory synapse of the mature IHC deficiency for Galphai2 or Galphai3 had no impact. In contrast, double-deficiency for Galphai2 and Galphai3 isoforms results in abnormalities along the entire tonotopic axis including profound deafness associated with stereocilia defects. In these mice, postnatal IHC synapse maturation is also impaired. In addition, the analysis of conditional versus global Galphai3-deficient mice revealed that the amplitude of ABR wave IV was disproportionally elevated in comparison to ABR wave I indicating that Galphai3 is selectively involved in generation of neural gain during auditory processing. CONCLUSION: We propose a so far unrecognized complexity of isoform-specific and overlapping Galphai protein functions particular during final differentiation processes.