Age-related changes in Na, K-ATPase expression, subunit isoform selection and assembly in the stria vascularis lateral wall of mouse cochlea

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Abstract

Due to the critical role of cochlear ion channels for hearing, the focus of the present study was to examine age-related changes of Na, K-ATPase (NKA) subunits in the lateral wall of mouse cochlea. We combined qRT-PCR, western blot and immunocytochemistry methodologies in order to determine gene and protein expression levels in the lateral wall of young and aged CBA/CaJ mice. Of the seven NKA subunits, only the mRNA expressions of α1, β1 and β2 subunit isoforms were detected in the lateral wall of CBA/CaJ mice. Aging was accompanied by dys-regulation of gene and protein expression of all three subunits detected. Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining revealed atrophy of the cochlear stria vascularis (SV). The SV atrophy rate (20%) was much less than the ˜80% decline in expression of all three NKA isoforms, indicating lateral wall atrophy and NKA dys-regulation are independent factors and that there is a combination of changes involving the morphology of SV and NKA expression in the aging cochlea which may concomitantly affect cochlear function. Immunoprecipitation assays showed that the α1-β1 heterodimer is the selective preferential heterodimer over the α1-β2 heterodimer in cochlea lateral wall. Interestingly, in vitro pathway experiments utilizing cultured mouse cochlear marginal cells from the SV (SV-K1 cells) indicated that decreased mRNA and protein expressions of α1, β1 and β2 subunit isoforms are not associated with reduction of NKA activity following in vitro application of ouabain, but ouabain did disrupt the α1-β1 heterodimer interaction. Lastly, the association between the α1 and β1 subunit isoforms was present in the cochlear lateral wall of young adult mice, but this interaction could not be detected in old mice. Taken together, these data suggest that in the young adult mouse there is a specific, functional selection and assembly of NKA subunit isoforms in the SV lateral wall, which is disrupted and dys-regulated with age. Interventions for this age-linked ion channel disruption may have the potential to help diagnose, prevent, or treat age-related hearing loss.

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