[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Signaling from rhombomeres 5 and 6 of the hindbrain is thought to be important for inner ear patterning. In Noggin -/- embryos, the gross anatomy of the inner ear is distorted and malformed, with cochlear duct outgrowth and coiling most affected. We attributed these defects to a caudal shift of the rhombomeres caused by the shortened body axis and the kink in the neural tube. To test the hypothesis that a caudal shift of the rhombomeres affects inner ear development, we surgically generated chicken embryos in which rhombomeres 5 and 6 were similarly shifted relative to the position of the inner ears, as in Noggin mutants. All chicken embryos with shifted rhombomeres showed defects in cochlear duct formation indicating that signaling from rhombomeres 5 and 6 is important for cochlear duct patterning in both chicken and mice. In addition, the size of the otic capsule is increased in Noggin -/- mutants, which most likely is due to unopposed BMP signaling for chondrogenesis in the peri-otic mesenchyme.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The paired box transcription factor, Pax2, is important for cochlear development in the mouse inner ear. Two mutant alleles of Pax2, a knockout and a frameshift mutation (Pax21Neu), show either agenesis or severe malformation of the cochlea, respectively. In humans, mutations in the PAX2 gene cause renal coloboma syndrome that is characterized by kidney abnormalities, optic nerve colobomas and mild sensorineural deafness. To better understand the role of Pax2 in inner ear development, we examined the inner ear phenotype in the Pax2 knockout mice using paint-fill and gene expression analyses. We show that Pax2-/- ears often lack a distinct saccule, and the endolymphatic duct and common crus are invariably fused. However, a rudimentary cochlea is always present in all Pax2 knockout inner ears. Cochlear outgrowth in the mutants is arrested at an early stage due to apoptosis of cells that normally express Pax2 in the cochlear anlage. Lack of Pax2 affects tissue specification within the cochlear duct, particularly regions between the sensory tissue and the stria vascularis. Because the cochlear phenotypes observed in Pax2 mutants are more severe than those observed in mice lacking Otx1 and Otx2, we postulate that Pax2 plays a key role in regulating the differential growth within the cochlear duct and thus, its proper outgrowth and coiling.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tight junctions in the cochlear duct are thought to compartmentalize endolymph and provide structural support for the auditory neuroepithelium. The claudin family of genes is known to express protein components of tight junctions in other tissues. The essential function of one of these claudins in the inner ear was established by identifying mutations in CLDN14 that cause nonsyndromic recessive deafness DFNB29 in two large consanguineous Pakistani families. In situ hybridization and immunofluorescence studies demonstrated mouse claudin-14 expression in the sensory epithelium of the organ of Corti.