Espin overexpression causes stereocilia defects and provides an anti-capping effect on actin polymerization

Lili Zheng, Stephen A. Adam, Jaime García-Anoveros, Brian J Mitchell*, James Richard Bartles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Stereocilia are actin-based projections of hair cells that are arranged in a step like array, in rows of increasing height, and that constitute the mechanosensory organelle used for the senses of hearing and balance. In order to function properly, stereocilia must attain precise sizes in different hair cell types and must coordinately form distinct rows with varying lengths. Espins are actin-bundling proteins that have a well-characterized role in stereocilia formation; loss of function mutations in Espin result in shorter stereocilia and deafness in the jerker mouse. Here we describe the generation of an Espin overexpressing transgenic mouse line that results in longer first row stereocilia and discoordination of second-row stereocilia length. Furthermore, Espin overexpression results in the misregulation of other stereocilia factors including GNAI3, GPSM2, EPS8, WHRN, and MYO15A, revealing that GNAI3 and GPSM2 are dispensable for stereocilia overgrowth. Finally, using an in vitro actin polymerization assay we show that espin provides an anti-capping function that requires both the G-actin binding WH2 domain as well as either the C-terminal F-actin binding domain or the internal xAB actin-binding domain. Our results provide a novel function for Espins at the barbed ends of actin filaments distinct from its previous known function of actin bundling that may account for their effects on stereocilia growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
Issue number6-8
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • actin
  • espin
  • hair cell
  • stereocilia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology


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