Stereocilia rootlets: Actin-based structures that are essential for structural stability of the hair bundle

Itallia Pacentine, Paroma Chatterjee, Peter G. Barr-Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Sensory hair cells of the inner ear rely on the hair bundle, a cluster of actin-filled stereocilia, to transduce auditory and vestibular stimuli into electrical impulses. Because they are long and thin projections, stereocilia are most prone to damage at the point where they insert into the hair cell’s soma. Moreover, this is the site of stereocilia pivoting, the mechanical movement that induces transduction, which additionally weakens this area mechanically. To bolster this fragile area, hair cells construct a dense core called the rootlet at the base of each stereocilium, which extends down into the actin meshwork of the cuticular plate and firmly anchors the stereocilium. Rootlets are constructed with tightly packed actin filaments that extend from stereocilia actin filaments which are wrapped with TRIOBP; in addition, many other proteins contribute to the rootlet and its associated structures. Rootlets allow stereocilia to sustain innumerable deflections over their lifetimes and exemplify the unique manner in which sensory hair cells exploit actin and its associated proteins to carry out the function of mechanotransduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number324
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Actin
  • Hair cell
  • Rootlet
  • Stereocilia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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