Journal of Cell Biology
With their essential role in inner ear function, stereocilia of sensory hair cells demonstrate the importance of cellular actin protrusions. Actin packing in stereocilia is mediated by cross-linkers of the plastin, fascin, and espin families. Although mice lacking espin (ESPN) have no vestibular or auditory function, we found that mice that either lacked plastin 1 (PLS1) or had nonfunctional fascin 2 (FSCN2) had reduced inner ear function, with double-mutant mice most strongly affected. Targeted mass spectrometry indicated that PLS1 was the most abundant cross-linker in vestibular stereocilia and the second most abundant protein overall; ESPN only accounted for ∼15% of the total cross-linkers in bundles. Mouse utricle stereocilia lacking PLS1 were shorter and thinner than wild-type stereocilia. Surprisingly, although wild-type stereocilia had random liquid packing of their actin filaments, stereocilia lacking PLS1 had orderly hexagonal packing. Although all three cross-linkers are required for stereocilia structure and function, PLS1 biases actin toward liquid packing, which allows stereocilia to grow to a greater diameter.
Krey, J. F., Krystofiak, E. S., Dumont, R. A., Vijayakumar, S., Choi, D., Rivero, F., ... & Barr-Gillespie, P. G. (2016). Plastin 1 widens stereocilia by transforming actin filament packing from hexagonal to liquid. J Cell Biol, jcb-201606036.