Keratin filament deployment and cytoskeletal networking in a sensory epithelium that vibrates during hearing

John Barry Tucker, MM Mogensen, CG Henderson, JB Mackie, other 2

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The intricate and spatially precise ways in which keratin intermediate filaments are deployed in certain cochlear epithelial cells, called supporting cells, suggests that these filaments make a micromechanically important contribution to the functional design of the guinea pig organ of Corti. Filament arrays that include keratins 8, 18, and 19 are confined mainly to regions close to the ends of large transcellular microtubule bundles in supporting cells. These cells and their microtubule bundles link sensory hair cells to a specialized basement membrane that vibrates during hearing. The keratin filament arrays apparently help anchor the ends of the microtubule bundles to cell surfaces. Filaments are concentrated at the apices and bases of most cells that contact hair cells. Substantial arrays of adherens junctions link the apices of these cells. Hence, keratin filaments may contribute to a cytoskeletal network that distributes mechanical forces from cell to cell and that coordinates the displacement of neighboring hair cells. However, high concentrations of keratin filaments have not been detected at the apices of one of the supporting cell types, which apparently has a mechanical role that is different from that of the others. Transmission electron microscopy has revealed previously undescribed filament networks at all the locations when the binding of antibodies to keratins is most marked. There is evidence that intercellular linkage of the keratin networks via their association with actin-containing meshworks and adherens junctions is more extensive than linkage provided by desmosomes. Cell Motil. Cytoskeleton 41:138-153, 1998. (C) 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-153
Number of pages16
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • intermediate filament
  • microtubule anchorage
  • desmosome
  • cochlear micromechanics
  • CELL


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