Histochemical analysis of glycoconjugates in gelatinous membranes of the gerbil's inner ear

Setsuo Sugiyama, Samuel S. Spicer, Paul D. Munyer, Bradley A. Schulte

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23 Scopus citations


The gelatinous membranes of the gerbil inner ear were analyzed histochemically for glycoconjugates with a battery of twenty horseradish peroxidase-conjugated lectins. Glycoconjugates with mannose (Man) and/or glucose (Glc), galactose (Gal), fucose (Fuc), N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) and N-acetylneuraminic acid (NeuAc) were detected in the tectorial and otolithic membranes and cupula. Differences in lectin reactivity were observed between tectorial and vestibular membranes and also among zones and between the medial and lateral regions of the middle zone of the tectorial membrane. The distribution of staining differed markedly for several lectins that bind specifically to GalNAc or to GlcNAc but vary in affinity for oligosaccharides containing these sugars in different sequences or linkages. The findings suggest presence of the terminal disaccharides GalNAcα1,3Gal in tectorial membrane and Galβ1,3GalNAc in vestibular membranes. Lectin binding profiles provided evidence that the limbal zone's fibrous and attachment layers contain mainly O-glycosidically linked oligosaccharides whereas the middle zone's medial fibrous layer contains both O- and N-linked chains. The remaining regions of the tectorial membrane contain mainly N-linked oligosaccharides with bisected biantennary type chains predominating. Additionally, the marginal band and the middle zone's basal layer contain abundant N-linked oligosaccharides with a triantennary structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalHearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Cochlea
  • Cupula
  • Ear
  • Gerbil
  • Lectin histochemistry
  • Otolithic membrane
  • Tectorial membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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