Mammalian cochlear supporting cells can divide and trans-differentiate into hair cells

Gonda Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, House Ear Institute, 2100 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, California 90057, USA.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 07/2006; 441(7096):984-7. DOI: 10.1038/nature04849
Source: PubMed


Sensory hair cells of the mammalian organ of Corti in the inner ear do not regenerate when lost as a consequence of injury, disease, or age-related deafness. This contrasts with other vertebrates such as birds, where the death of hair cells causes surrounding supporting cells to re-enter the cell cycle and give rise to both new hair cells and supporting cells. It is not clear whether the lack of mammalian hair cell regeneration is due to an intrinsic inability of supporting cells to divide and differentiate or to an absence or blockade of regenerative signals. Here we show that post-mitotic supporting cells purified from the postnatal mouse cochlea retain the ability to divide and trans-differentiate into new hair cells in culture. Furthermore, we show that age-dependent changes in supporting cell proliferative capacity are due in part to changes in the ability to downregulate the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27(Kip1) (also known as Cdkn1b). These results indicate that postnatal mammalian supporting cells are potential targets for therapeutic manipulation.

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    • "It was observed that p27Kip1 initiates its expression during embryonic development coinciding with the exit of these cells from the cell cycle [16], [17], implying a pivotal role for p27Kip1 in these cells. In the postnatal mouse cochleae, removal of p27Kip1 from normally quiescent supporting cells forced these cells to re-enter the cell cycle [12], [13], [18] and loss of p27Kip1 preceded conversion of supporting cells to sensory hair cells in vitro [14]. Indeed, p27Kip1inhibition therapy has been proposed for hearing restoration in mammals [14], [18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: p27Kip1 is a cell cycle inhibitor that prevents cyclin dependent kinase (CDK)/cyclin complexes from phosphorylating their targets. p27Kip1 is a known tumor suppressor, as the germline loss of p27Kip1 results in sporadic pituitary formation in aged rodents, and its presence in human cancers is indicative of a poor prognosis. In addition to its role in cancer, loss of p27Kip1 results in regenerative phenotypes in some tissues and maintenance of stem cell pluripotency, suggesting that p27Kip1 inhibitors could be beneficial for tissue regeneration. Because p27Kip1 is an intrinsically disordered protein, identifying direct inhibitors of the p27Kip1 protein is difficult. Therefore, we pursued a high-throughput screening strategy to identify novel p27Kip1 transcriptional inhibitors. We utilized a luciferase reporter plasmid driven by the p27Kip1 promoter to transiently transfect HeLa cells and used cyclohexamide as a positive control for non-specific inhibition. We screened a "bioactive" library consisting of 8,904 (4,359 unique) compounds, of which 830 are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. From this screen, we successfully identified 111 primary hits with inhibitory effect against the promoter of p27Kip1. These hits were further refined using a battery of secondary screens. Here we report four novel p27Kip1 transcriptional inhibitors, and further demonstrate that our most potent hit compound (IC50 = 200 nM) Alsterpaullone 2-cyanoethyl, inhibits p27Kip1 transcription by preventing FoxO3a from binding to the p27Kip1 promoter. This screen represents one of the first attempts to identify inhibitors of p27Kip1 and may prove useful for future tissue regeneration studies.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Control of cell cycle exit of progenitor cells and maintenance of quiescent status of differentiated hair cells and supporting cells are controlled in part by negative cell growth genes, including P27kip1, p19ink4d, pRb, and p21cip1. It has been reported that down-regulation of P27kip1 or pRb can promote proliferation of supporting cells712, and some of these proliferating supporting cells can differentiate into hair cells in vitro1213. These studies indicate that postnatal mammalian supporting cells might be potential progenitor cells and represent a promising therapeutic avenue for hair cell regeneration in the mammalian cochlea. "
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    ABSTRACT: The ideal strategy for hair cell regeneration is promoting residual supporting cell proliferation followed by induction of hair cell differentiation. In this study, cultured neonatal mouse organs of Corti were treated with neomycin to eliminate hair cells followed by incubation with recombined adenovirus expressing Pax2 and/or Math1. Results showed that overexpression of Pax2 significantly promoted proliferation of supporting cells. The number of BrdU(+)/myosin VIIA(+) cells increased significantly in hair cell pre-existing region two weeks after adenovirus infection in Ad-Pax2-IRES-Math1 group compared to Ad-Pax2 and Ad-Math1 groups. This indicated that cotransfection of Pax2 and Math1 induced supporting cells to proliferate and differentiate into hair cells in situ. Most new hair cells were labeled by FM1-43 suggesting they acquired certain function. The results also suggest that inducing proliferating cells rather than quiescent cells to differentiate into hair cells by forced expression of Math1 is feasible for mammalian hair cell regeneration.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Scientific Reports
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    • "However, there is growing evidence that mammalian auditory supporting cells have the intrinsic ability to function as hair cell progenitors. Once dissociated and cultured in a permissive environment, immature early postnatal auditory supporting cells generate hair cells through both mitotic and non-mitotic mechanisms [4], [5], [7]. Similarly, in the intact early postnatal cochlea, re-expression of the transcriptional activator Atoh1 [75], [79] and/ or Notch inhibition results in the generation of new hair cells [23]–[25]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In mammals, auditory hair cells are generated only during embryonic development and loss or damage to hair cells is permanent. However, in non-mammalian vertebrate species, such as birds, neighboring glia-like supporting cells regenerate auditory hair cells by both mitotic and non-mitotic mechanisms. Based on work in intact cochlear tissue, it is thought that Notch signaling might restrict supporting cell plasticity in the mammalian cochlea. However, it is unresolved how Notch signaling functions in the hair cell-damaged cochlea and the molecular and cellular changes induced in supporting cells in response to hair cell trauma are poorly understood. Here we show that gentamicin-induced hair cell loss in early postnatal mouse cochlear tissue induces rapid morphological changes in supporting cells, which facilitate the sealing of gaps left by dying hair cells. Moreover, we provide evidence that Notch signaling is active in the hair cell damaged cochlea and identify Hes1, Hey1, Hey2, HeyL, and Sox2 as targets and potential Notch effectors of this hair cell-independent mechanism of Notch signaling. Using Cre/loxP based labeling system we demonstrate that inhibition of Notch signaling with a γ- secretase inhibitor (GSI) results in the trans-differentiation of supporting cells into hair cell-like cells. Moreover, we show that these hair cell-like cells, generated by supporting cells have molecular, cellular, and basic electrophysiological properties similar to immature hair cells rather than supporting cells. Lastly, we show that the vast majority of these newly generated hair cell-like cells express the outer hair cell specific motor protein prestin.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · PLoS ONE
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