Document Type


Journal Title

Journal of Neurocytology

Publication Date





There are seven isotypic forms of the microtubule protein beta tubulin in mammals, but not all isotypes are synthesized in every cell type. In the adult organ of Corti, each of the five major cell types synthesizes a different subset of isotypes. Inner hair cells synthesize only betaI and betaII tubulin, while outer hair cells make betaI and betaIV tubulin. Only betaII and betaIV tubulin are found in inner and outer pillar cells, while betaI, betaII, and betaIV tubulin are present in Deiters cells, and betaI, betaII and betaIII tubulin are found in organ of Corti dendrites. During post-natal organ of Corti development in the gerbil, microtubules are elaborated in an orderly temporal sequence beginning with hair cells, followed by pillar cells and Deiters cells. Using beta tubulin isotype-specific antibodies, we show that, in the gerbil cochlea, the same three isotypes are present in each cell type at birth, and that a cell type-specific reduction in the isotypes synthesized occurs in hair cells and pillar cells at an unusually late stage in development. No beta tubulin isotypes were detected in mature afferent dendrites, but we show that this is because few microtubules are present in mature dendrites. In addition, we show that primary cilia in inner hair cells, a feature of early development, persist much later than previously reported. The findings represent the first description of developmental cell type-specific reductions in tubulin isotypes in any system.

MeSH Headings

Aging, Animals, Animals, Newborn, Antibodies, Antibody Specificity, Cell Differentiation, Dendrites, Gerbillinae, Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner, Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer, Labyrinth Supporting Cells, Microscopy, Confocal, Microscopy, Electron, Microtubules, Organ of Corti, Protein Isoforms, Tubulin




J Neurocytol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2007 Sep 27. Published in final edited form as: J Neurocytol. 2003 Feb; 32(2): 185–197.