Suli, A., Pujol, R., Cunningham, D.E., Hailey, D.W., Prendergast, A., Rubel, E.W., Raible, D.W. (2016) Innervation regulates synaptic ribbons in lateral line mechanosensory hair cells. Journal of Cell Science. 129(11):2250-60.
Failure to form proper synapses in mechanosensory hair cells, the sensory cells responsible for hearing and balance, leads to deafness and balance disorders. Ribbons are electron dense structures that tether synaptic vesicles to the presynaptic zone of mechanosensory hair cells where they are juxtaposed with the post-synaptic endings of afferent fibers. They are initially formed throughout the cytoplasm, and, as cells mature, ribbons translocate to the basolateral membrane of hair cells to form functional synapses. We have examined the effect of postsynaptic elements on ribbon formation and maintenance in the zebrafish lateral line system by observing mutants that lack hair cell innervation, wild-type larvae whose nerves have been transected, and ribbons in regenerating hair cells. Our results demonstrate that innervation is not required for initial ribbon formation but suggest that it is critical for regulating the number, size and localization of ribbons in maturing hair cells, and for ribbon maintenance at the mature synapse.