Genetic patterning of embryonic inner ear development

Juan Represa, Dorothy A. Frenz, Thomas R. Van De Water

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The commitment of the otocyst to form balance (pars superior) and hearing (pars inferior) receptors is under the control of patterning genes. Intersecting patterns of gene expression has been proposed to explain the regionalization of inner ear sensory receptor development. Insights into the roles of patterning genes is being acquired from the analysis of inner ear development of null mutation mice. An example of the consequences of the loss of expression of a single patterning gene is the effect of a null mutation of paired-box gene 2 (Pax2) on formation of the cochlea. Pax2 transcripts are expressed in the pars inferior of the otocyst and null mutant inner ears show agenesis of the cochlea. This is an example of the profound effect that loss of a single patterning gene can have on inner ear development. However, more typically there is redundancy of gene action during inner ear development as exemplified by the overlapping pattern of expression of two closely related homeobox-containing genes (i.e. Hmx2 and Hmx3) in the pars superior of the otocyst. Hmx2 and Hmx3 genes are both expressed early in otic development with Hmx3 transcripts present in the placode. However, null mutation of the Hmx3 patterning gene produced only a limited vestibular defect, and did not result in the agenesis of the vestibule. This result suggests that there is redundancy in genes that have similar patterns of regional expression in the otic anlagen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Growth factors
  • Homeobox genes
  • Null mutations
  • Otic morphogenesis
  • Otocyst
  • Pars inferior
  • Pars superior
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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