Ultrastructural localization and semiquantitative analysis of glycoconjugates in the tectorial membrane

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The tectorial membrane of the gerbil cochlea was analyzed with lectin-gold cytochemical methods for demonstrating and characterizing glycoconjugates (GCs) in situ. Binding of lectins from Limax flavus (LFA), Lens culinaris (LCA), Datura stramonium (DSA), Ricinus communis (RCA I), Ulex europeusd (UEA I) and Phaseolus vulgaris (PHA L) was assayed semiquantitatively on ultrathin sections. Binding occurred throughout the tectorial membrane with all lectins except UEA I but the labelling density with a given lectin differed among substractures. The cover net disclosed the highest level of GC with four lectins whereas the fibrous layer revealed the lowest level. DSA, LCA and PHA L demonstrated considerable similarity between the cover net and the marginal band in content of GC with N-linked oligosaccharide. The cover net differed from the marginal band, however, in containing more RCA I reactive GC with terminal lactosamine. Hensen's stripe, with which inner hair cell stereocilia are thought to interact, differed from other substructures in containing the highest level of PHA L-reactive triantennate N-linked chains and except for the basal layer the lowest concentration of GC with terminal lactosamine. Fucosylated GC detectable with UEA I-gold was present at low levels in all substructures except the cover net and marginal band. Distribution of GCs in the fibrous layer and less consistently in the cover net differed between limbal and middle zones. The differences observed here in the carbohydrate composition among substructures in the tectorial membrane support and extend previous cytochemical observations and imply a role for different classes of GCs in determining the biophysical and physiological properties of the tectorial membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Cochlea
  • Gerbil
  • Glycoconjugates
  • Histochemistry
  • Inner ear
  • Tectorial membrane
  • lectin-gold cytochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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