The apices of the majority of cells of the organ of Corti are connected together by junctional complexes to form the reticular lamina, a barrier that prevents the mixing of endolymph and perilymph. These complexes include fight junctions, adherens junctions and desmosomes. Further information is requited about the identity and distribution of the molecules involved in these connections if the function and organization of the reticular lamina are to be well understood. One major category of molecules occurring in adherens junctions and desmosomes, and involved in the maintenance of tissue integrity, is the cadherins. However, although cadherin has been identified in junctions between supporting cells in the adult mammalian organ of Corti at the light microscopic level, its ultrastructural distribution has not so far been described A post-embedding immunogold labelling technique has therefore been used in conjunction with a monoclonal antibody to cadherin to investigate its ultrastructural distribution in the adult guinea-pig reticular lamina. Immunolabelling is observed in hair cell-supporting cell junctions and in supporting cell-supporting cell junctions. In addition, there is more labelling associated with inner hair cell-supporting cell junctions than with outer hair cell-supporting cell junctions. This may indicate that the junctions associated with the two types of hair cell have different functional properties.
- Hair cell
- Supporting cell