Ca<sup>2+</sup> influx triggers the fusion of synaptic vesicles at the presynaptic active zone (AZ). Here we demonstrate a role of Ras-related in brain 3 (Rab3)-interacting molecules 2α and β (RIM2α and RIM2β) in clustering voltage-gated Ca<inf>V</inf>1.3 Ca<sup>2+</sup> channels at the AZs of sensory inner hair cells (IHCs). We show that IHCs of hearing mice express mainly RIM2α, but also RIM2β and RIM3γ, which all localize to the AZs, as shown by immunofluorescence microscopy. Immunohistochemistry, patch-clamp, fluctuation analysis, and confocal Ca<sup>2+</sup> imaging demonstrate that AZs of RIM2α-deficient IHCs cluster fewer synaptic Ca<inf>V</inf>1.3 Ca<sup>2+</sup> channels, resulting in reduced synaptic Ca<sup>2+</sup> influx. Using superresolution microscopy, we found that Ca<sup>2+</sup> channels remained clustered in stripes underneath anchored ribbons. Electron tomography of high-pressure frozen synapses revealed a reduced fraction of membrane-tethered vesicles, whereas the total number of membrane-proximal vesicles was unaltered. Membrane capacitance measurements revealed a reduction of exocytosis largely in proportion with the Ca<sup>2+</sup> current, whereas the apparent Ca<sup>2+</sup> dependence of exocytosis was unchanged. Hair cell-specific deletion of all RIM2 isoforms caused a stronger reduction of Ca<sup>2+</sup> influx and exocytosis and significantly impaired the encoding of sound onset in the postsynaptic spiral ganglion neurons. Auditory brainstem responses indicated a mild hearing impairment on hair cell-specific deletion of all RIM2 isoforms or global inactivation of RIM2α. We conclude that RIM2α and RIM2β promote a large complement of synaptic Ca<sup>2+</sup> channels at IHC AZs and are required for normal hearing.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Department of Neuroscience

Jung, S., Oshima-Takago, T., Chakrabarti, R., Wong, A. B., Jing, Z., Yamanbaeva, G., … Moser, T. (2015). Rab3-interacting molecules 2α and 2β promote the abundance of voltage-gated CaV1.3 Ca2+ channels at hair cell active zones. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(24), E3141–E3149. doi:10.1073/pnas.1417207112