In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (4)

Articles by Jeremy Duncan in JoVE

Other articles by Jeremy Duncan on PubMed

Dissecting the Molecular Basis of Organ of Corti Development: Where Are We Now?

Hearing Research. Jun, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21256948

This review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of the molecular basis of cochlear duct growth, specification of the organ of Corti, and differentiation of the different types of hair cells. Studies of multiple mutations suggest that developing hair cells are involved in stretching the organ of Corti through convergent extension movements. However, Atoh1 null mutants have only undifferentiated and dying organ of Corti precursors but show a near normal extension of the cochlear duct, implying that organ of Corti precursor cells can equally drive this process. Some factors influence cochlear duct growth by regulating the cell cycle and proliferation. Shortened cell cycle and premature cell cycle exit can lead to a shorter organ of Corti with multiple rows of hair cells (e.g., Foxg1 null mice). Other genes affect the initial formation of a cochlear duct with or without affecting the organ of Corti. Such observations are consistent with evolutionary data that suggest some developmental uncoupling of cochlear duct from organ of Corti formation. Positioning the organ of Corti requires multiple genes expressed in the organ of Corti and the flanking region. Several candidate factors have emerged but how they cooperate to specify the organ of Corti and the topology of hair cells remains unclear. Atoh1 is required for differentiation of all hair cells, but regulation of inner versus outer hair cell differentiation is still unidentified. In summary, the emerging molecular complexity of organ of Corti development demands further study before a rational approach towards regeneration of unique types of hair cells in specific positions is possible.

Limited Inner Ear Morphogenesis and Neurosensory Development Are Possible in the Absence of GATA3

The International Journal of Developmental Biology. 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21553382

Haploinsufficiency of Gata3 causes hypoparathyroidism, deafness and renal dysplasia (HDR) syndrome in mice and humans. Gata3 null mutation leads to early lethality around embryonic day (E)11.5, but catecholamine precursor administration can rescue Gata3 null mutants to E16.5. At E11.5, GATA3 deficiency results in the development of an empty otocyst with an endolymphatic duct. However, using rescued mice we found that some morphogenesis and neurosensory development is possible in the ear without Gata3. Extending previous studies, we find that at E16.5, Gata3 mutant inner ears can undergo partial morphogenesis and develop an endolymphatic duct, a utricular and saccular recess, and a shortened cochlear duct. In addition to the obvious morphogenic aberrations, these studies demonstrate that a subset of neurons develop and connect a fragmented sensory patch of MYO7A-positive hair cells to the vestibular nuclei of the brainstem. In situ hybridization studies reveal altered expression of several transcription factors relevant to ear development and we hypothesize that this may relate to the observed dysmorphia and restricted neurosensory development. While a cochlear duct can form, there is no concurrent cochlear neurosensory development, observations consistent with specific hearing defects encountered by HDR patients and mice with Gata3-associated expression alterations. Gata3 null mutant phenocopies the otic maldevelopment (cochlear duct formation in the absence of neurosensory development) seen in Foxg1cre mediated conditional deletion of microRNA processing enzyme, Dicer1. Finally, while GATA3 is expressed in the developing vestibulo-cochlear efferent (VCE) neurons, and its absence in the null mutants disrupts VCE projections to the ear, loss of GATA3 does not affect VCE progenitor cell migration.

A Novel Atoh1 "self-terminating" Mouse Model Reveals the Necessity of Proper Atoh1 Level and Duration for Hair Cell Differentiation and Viability

PloS One. 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22279587

Atonal homolog1 (Atoh1) is a bHLH transcription factor essential for inner ear hair cell differentiation. Targeted expression of Atoh1 at various stages in development can result in hair cell differentiation in the ear. However, the level and duration of Atoh1 expression required for proper hair cell differentiation and maintenance remain unknown. We generated an Atoh1 conditional knockout (CKO) mouse line using Tg(Atoh1-cre), in which the cre expression is driven by an Atoh1 enhancer element that is regulated by Atoh1 protein to "self-terminate" its expression. The mutant mice show transient, limited expression of Atoh1 in all hair cells in the ear. In the organ of Corti, reduction and delayed deletion of Atoh1 result in progressive loss of almost all the inner hair cells and the majority of the outer hair cells within three weeks after birth. The remaining cells express hair cell marker Myo7a and attract nerve fibers, but do not differentiate normal stereocilia bundles. Some Myo7a-positive cells persist in the cochlea into adult stages in the position of outer hair cells, flanked by a single row of pillar cells and two to three rows of disorganized Deiters cells. Gene expression analyses of Atoh1, Barhl1 and Pou4f3, genes required for survival and maturation of hair cells, reveal earlier and higher expression levels in the inner compared to the outer hair cells. Our data show that Atoh1 is crucial for hair cell mechanotransduction development, viability, and maintenance and also suggest that Atoh1 expression level and duration may play a role in inner vs. outer hair cell development. These genetically engineered Atoh1 CKO mice provide a novel model for establishing critical conditions needed to regenerate viable and functional hair cells with Atoh1 therapy.

Expression of Neurog1 Instead of Atoh1 Can Partially Rescue Organ of Corti Cell Survival

PloS One. 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22292060

In the mammalian inner ear neurosensory cell fate depends on three closely related transcription factors, Atoh1 for hair cells and Neurog1 and Neurod1 for neurons. We have previously shown that neuronal cell fate can be altered towards hair cell fate by eliminating Neurod1 mediated repression of Atoh1 expression in neurons. To test whether a similar plasticity is present in hair cell fate commitment, we have generated a knockin (KI) mouse line (Atoh1(KINeurog1)) in which Atoh1 is replaced by Neurog1. Expression of Neurog1 under Atoh1 promoter control alters the cellular gene expression pattern, differentiation and survival of hair cell precursors in both heterozygous (Atoh1(+/KINeurog1)) and homozygous (Atoh1(KINeurog1/KINeurog1)) KI mice. Homozygous KI mice develop patches of organ of Corti precursor cells that express Neurog1, Neurod1, several prosensory genes and neurotrophins. In addition, these patches of cells receive afferent and efferent processes. Some cells among these patches form multiple microvilli but no stereocilia. Importantly, Neurog1 expressing mutants differ from Atoh1 null mutants, as they have intermittent formation of organ of Corti-like patches, opposed to a complete 'flat epithelium' in the absence of Atoh1. In heterozygous KI mice co-expression of Atoh1 and Neurog1 results in change in fate and patterning of some hair cells and supporting cells in addition to the abnormal hair cell polarity in the later stages of development. This differs from haploinsufficiency of Atoh1 (Pax2cre; Atoh1(f/+)), indicating the effect of Neurog1 expression in developing hair cells. Our data suggest that Atoh1(KINeurog1) can provide some degree of functional support for survival of organ of Corti cells. In contrast to the previously demonstrated fate plasticity of neurons to differentiate as hair cells, hair cell precursors can be maintained for a limited time by Neurog1 but do not transdifferentiate as neurons.

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