Supervillin Is a Component of the Hair Cell’s Cuticular Plate and the Head Plates of Organ of Corti Supporting Cells
The organ of Corti has evolved a panoply of cells with extraordinary morphological specializations to harness, direct, and transduce mechanical energy into electrical signals. Among the cells with prominent apical specializations are hair cells and nearby supporting cells. At the apical surface of each hair cell is a mechanosensitive hair bundle of filamentous actin (F-actin)-based stereocilia, which insert rootlets into the F-actin meshwork of the underlying cuticular plate, a rigid organelle considered to hold the stereocilia in place. Little is known about the protein composition and development of the cuticular plate or the apicolateral specializations of organ of Corti supporting cells. We show that supervillin, an F-actin cross-linking protein, localizes to cuticular plates in hair cells of the mouse cochlea and vestibule and zebrafish sensory epithelia. Moreover, supervillin localizes near the apicolateral margins within the head plates of Deiters’ cells and outer pillar cells, and proximal to the apicolateral margins of inner phalangeal cells, adjacent to the junctions with neighboring hair cells. Overall, supervillin localization suggests this protein may shape the surface structure of the organ of Corti.