Use of Proteomic Imaging Coupled With Transcriptomic Analysis to Identify Biomolecules Responsive to Cochlear Injury
Exposure to noise or ototoxic agents can result in degeneration of cells in the sensory epithelium and auditory nerve, as well as non-sensory cells of the cochlear lateral wall. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this pathology remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to localize and identify proteins in the cochlea that are responsive to noise or ototoxic exposure using a complementary proteo-transcriptomic approach. MALDI imaging of cochlear sections revealed numerous protein signals with distinct cochlear localization patterns in both cochlear injury models, of which six were chosen for further investigation. A query of proteomic databases identified 709 candidates corresponding to m/z values for the six proteins. An evaluation of mRNA expression data from our previous studies of these injured models indicated that 208 of the candidates were affected in both injury models. Downstream validation analyses yielded proteins with confirmatory distributions and responses to injury. The combined analysis of MALDI imaging with gene expression data provides a new strategy to identify molecular regulators responsive to cochlear injury. This study demonstrates the applicability of MALDI imaging for investigating protein localization and abundance in frozen sections from animals modeling cochlear pathology.