Tenascin-C in the cochlea of the developing mouse

Donna S. Whitlon*, Xueli Zhang, Moriaki Kusakabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Tenascin-C is a glycoprotein of the extracellular matrix that acts in vitro as both a permissive and a nonpermissive substrate for neurite growth. We analyzed, by immunocytochemistry, the distribution of tenascin-C along neural growth pathways in the developing mouse cochlea. In the spiral lamina, tenascin-C coexists in a region where nerve bundles arborize. In the organ of Corti, tenascin-C lines the neural pathways along pillar and Deiters' cells before and during the time of nerve fiber ingrowth. By embryonic day 16, tenascin-C is abundant on the pillar side of the inner hair cell but does not accumulate on the modiolar side until about birth, a time after the arrival of afferent fibers. The synaptic zones beneath outer hair cells are strongly labeled during the time when early events in afferent synaptogenesis are progressing but not during the time of efferent synaptogenesis. At the age when most neural growth ceases, tenascin-C immunoreactivity disappears. Faint tenascin-C immunolabeling of normal hair cells, strong tenascin immunolabeling in pathological hair cells of Bronx waltzer (bv/bv) mice, and staining for β-galactosidase, whose gene replaces tenascin in a 'knockout' mouse, indicate that hair cells supply at least part of the tenascin-C. The changing composition of the extracellular matrix in the synaptic region during afferent and efferent synaptogenesis is consistent with a role for tenascin in synaptogenesis. The presence of tenascin-C along the growth routes of nerve fibers, particularly toward the outer hair cells, raises the possibility that growth cone interactions with tenascin-C helps to guide nerve fibers in the cochlea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-374
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 12 1999


  • Axonal pathfinding
  • Development
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Hair cells
  • Organ of Corti

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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