The anion exchanger (AE) plays critical roles in physiological processes including CO2 transport and volume regulation in erythrocytes and acid-base regulation in renal tubules. Although expression of the AE in inner-ear hair cells was reported, its specific localization and function are still unclear. Using in situ hybridization, we found that the AE1b transcript is expressed in lateral-line hair cells of zebrafish larvae. An immunohistochemical analysis with a zebrafish-specific antibody localized AE1b to stereocilia of hair cells, and the expression was eliminated by morpholino knockdown of AE1b. A non-invasive, scanning ion-selective electrode technique was applied to analyze mechanotransducer (MET) channelmediated Ca2+ influx at stereocilia of hair cells of intact fish. Ca2+ influx was effectively suppressed by AE1b morpholino knockdown and inhibitor (DIDS) treatment. Elevating external Ca2+ (0.2 to 2 mM) neutralized the inhibition of DIDS. Taken together, this study provides solid evidence to show that AE1b in stereocilia is required for the proper functioning of MET channels.
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