Journal of Structural Biology, Vol.206, No.2, 149-155, 2019
Electron cryo-tomography of vestibular hair-cell stereocilia
High-resolution imaging of hair-cell stereocilia of the inner ear has contributed substantially to our understanding of auditory and vestibular function. To provide three-dimensional views of the structure of stereocilia cytoskeleton and membranes, we developed a method for rapidly freezing unfixed stereocilia on electron microscopy grids, which allowed subsequent 3D imaging by electron cryo-tomography. Structures of stereocilia tips, shafts, and tapers were revealed, demonstrating that the actin paracrystal was not perfectly ordered. This sample-preparation and imaging procedure will allow for examination of structural features of stereocilia in a near-native state.