Espins and the actin cytoskeleton of hair cell stereocilia and sensory cell microvilli

G. Sekerková, L. Zheng, P. A. Loomis, E. Mugnaini, J. R. Bartles*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The espins are novel actin-bundling proteins that are produced in multiple isoforms from a single gene. They are present at high concentration in the parallel actin bundle of hair cell stereocilia and are the target of deafness mutations in mice and humans. Espins are also enriched in the microvilli of taste receptor cells, solitary chemoreceptor cells, vomeronasal sensory neurons and Merkel cells, suggesting that espins play important roles in the microvillar projections of vertebrate sensory cells. Espins are potent actin-bundling proteins that are not inhibited by Ca2+. In cells, they efficiently elongate parallel actin bundles and, thereby, help determine the steady-state length of microvilli and stereocilia. Espins bind actin monomer via their WH2 domain and can assemble actin bundles in cells. Certain espin isofomis can also bind phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, profilins or SH3 proteins. These biological activities distinguish espins from other actin-bundling proteins and may make them well-suited to sensory cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2329-2341
Number of pages13
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Actin
  • Deafness
  • Espin
  • Hair cell
  • Microvilli
  • Sensory
  • Stereocilia
  • Taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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