Hearing loss affects ∼10% of adults worldwide. Most sensorineural hearing loss is caused by the progressive loss of mechanosensitive hair cells (HCs) in the cochlea. The molecular mechanisms underlying HC maintenance and loss remain poorly understood. LBH, a transcription co-factor implicated in development, is abundantly expressed in outer hair cells (OHCs). We used Lbh-null mice to identify its role in HCs. Surprisingly, Lbh deletion did not affect differentiation and the early development of HCs, as nascent HCs in Lbh knockout mice had normal looking stereocilia. The stereocilia bundle was mechanosensitive and OHCs exhibited the characteristic electromotility. However, Lbh-null mice displayed progressive hearing loss, with stereocilia bundle degeneration and OHC loss as early as postnatal day 12. RNA-seq analysis showed significant gene enrichment of biological processes related to transcriptional regulation, cell cycle, DNA damage/repair and autophagy in Lbh-null OHCs. In addition, Wnt and Notch pathway-related genes were found to be dysregulated in Lbh-deficient OHCs. Our study implicates, for the first time, loss of LBH function in progressive hearing loss, and demonstrates a critical requirement of LBH in promoting HC survival in adult mice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology