Movements of the stiff sensory hairs, the stereocilia, which extend outwards from the apical surface of the hair cells in the auditory organ, are thought to have a key role in the process of transduction of sound energy into electrical impulses. Each stereocilium is supported by a paracrystalline axial bundle of actin filaments, which have identical polarities and are extensively cross-linked1-4. Recent immunohistochemical observations on whole mounts of the guinea pig organ of Corti indicated myosin-like immunoreactivity in association with hair cell stereocilia5. Considering the steric situation, it is, however, difficult to imagine any functional interaction between the bundled actin filaments and the assumed myosin molecules. Here we report that in semi-thin, transverse sections of quick-frozen, freeze-dried and plastic-embedded guinea pig organ of Corti, myosin-like immunostaining was restricted to the apical cytoplasm of hair cells and was not detected along the stereocilia. With respect to the immunohistochemical distribution of actin, myosin and the muscular Z-line protein, α-actinin, the apex of hair cells strongly resembles the intestinal epithelial brush border6-7.
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