Connexin 26 distribution in gap junctions between melanocytes in the human vestibular dark cell area

Masazumi Masuda, Shin Ichi Usami, Kazuto Yamazaki, Yutaka Takumi, Hideichi Shinkawa, Kazuhiro Kurashima, Takanobu Kunihiro, Jin Kanzaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We have previously demonstrated the presence of gap junctions between melanocytes in the human vestibular organ and have speculated that melanocytes function in maintaining the homeostasis of the microenvironment of the inner ear. The purpose of the present study was to characterize the expression and ultrastructural localization of connexin (Cx) protein in melanocytes of the human vestibular organs. Surgical material was obtained from patients operated on for vestibular schwannoma and was processed for light microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, conventional TEM, and immuno TEM. The specimens were labeled with anti-Cx26, Cx32, and Cx43 antibodies and examined by light microscopy. Specimens were also labeled with anti-Cx26 antibody and examined by laser microscopy and immuno-TEM methods. The specimens examined in this study were mainly dark cell areas from the human vestibular organ, whose epithelial and subepithelial layers are rich in melanocytes. Light-microscopic immunohistochemical studies showed positive labeling for Cx26 protein between subepithelial melanocytes, and Cx32 was also detected. Use of anti-Cx26 antibody and confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed high levels of Cx26 around the subepithelial melanocytes. Post-embedding immuno-gold transmission electron microscopy showed significant aggregation of gold particles (33.97 ± 8.01% of total gold particles) around the gap junctions of the subepithelial melanocytes. The results of this study indicated that melanocytes are connected through gap junctions that mainly contain Cx26. This suggested that the melanocytes in the human vestibular organ may play a role in transporting material between the endolymph and perilymph.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-146
Number of pages10
JournalAnatomical Record
Volume262
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Feb 1

Keywords

  • Confocal laser scanning microscope
  • Connexin 26
  • Dark cell area
  • Gap junctions
  • Human inner ear
  • Melanocytes
  • Post-embedding immuno-gold transmission electron microscopy
  • Vestibular organ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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