Regeneration of cells in the inner ear

Research

Researchers from the Stanford University Medical Center, California (USA) recently used single-cell gene expression profiles to create a gene expression map for the organ of Corti, in a mouse model.

The team used 2-day-old mice to obtain hair cells and supporting cells. The map they generated displays gene expression levels of 192 genes for all organ of Corti cell types ordered along the apex-to-base axis of the cochlea. These cells are known to play a decisive role in hearing, but little is known about the molecular biology that underlies how hair cells develop at specific locations.

Results of the study were published in the journal Cell Reports in June. The group identified patterns of gene expression that may determine whether inner pillar cells can give rise to new hair cells. They also found gradual changes in the expression of specific genes that may be important for establishing and maintaining a population of hair cells.

Single-cell gene expression analysis has developed rapidly in recent years. “Molecular gradients play a key role in developmental biology, but in the past researchers depended on identifying gradients in one molecule at a time,” explains Stefan Heller, PhD, professor of otolaryngology and senior author on the paper. “With these new techniques, we are identifying cells that, for example, have molecular characteristics of stem cells, by analyzing the expression of many genes all at once, and we know precisely where they are located.”

Source: MedicalXpress; Stanford University Medical Center; Waldhaus J, et al. Quantitative High-Resolution Cellular Map of the Organ of Corti. Cell Reports. 2015 Jun 9;11(9):1385-99.

C.S.