Neurod1 suppresses hair cell differentiation in ear ganglia and regulates hair cell subtype development in the cochlea.
ABSTRACT: At least five bHLH genes regulate cell fate determination and differentiation of sensory neurons, hair cells and supporting cells in the mammalian inner ear. Cross-regulation of Atoh1 and Neurog1 results in hair cell changes in Neurog1 null mice although the nature and mechanism of the cross-regulation has not yet been determined. Neurod1, regulated by both Neurog1 and Atoh1, could be the mediator of this cross-regulation.We used Tg(Pax2-Cre) to conditionally delete Neurod1 in the inner ear. Our data demonstrate for the first time that the absence of Neurod1 results in formation of hair cells within the inner ear sensory ganglia. Three cell types, neural crest derived Schwann cells and mesenchyme derived fibroblasts (neither expresses Neurod1) and inner ear derived neurons (which express Neurod1) constitute inner ear ganglia. The most parsimonious explanation is that Neurod1 suppresses the alternative fate of sensory neurons to develop as hair cells. In the absence of Neurod1, Atoh1 is expressed and differentiates cells within the ganglion into hair cells. We followed up on this effect in ganglia by demonstrating that Neurod1 also regulates differentiation of subtypes of hair cells in the organ of Corti. We show that in Neurod1 conditional null mice there is a premature expression of several genes in the apex of the developing cochlea and outer hair cells are transformed into inner hair cells.Our data suggest that the long noted cross-regulation of Atoh1 expression by Neurog1 might actually be mediated in large part by Neurod1. We suggest that Neurod1 is regulated by both Neurog1 and Atoh1 and provides a negative feedback for either gene. Through this and other feedback, Neurod1 suppresses alternate fates of neurons to differentiate as hair cells and regulates hair cell subtypes.
Project description: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.
Project description:In the cochlea, spiral ganglion neurons play a critical role in hearing as they form the relay between mechanosensory hair cells in the inner ear and cochlear nuclei in the brainstem. The proneural basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors Neurogenin1 (Neurog1) and NeuroD1 have been shown to be essential for the development of otocyst-derived inner ear sensory neurons. Here, we show neural competence of nonsensory epithelial cells in the cochlea, as ectopic expression of either Neurog1 or NeuroD1 results in the formation of neuronal cells. Since the high-mobility-group type transcription factor Sox2, which is also known to play a role in neurogenesis, is expressed in otocyst-derived neural precursor cells and later in the spiral ganglion neurons along with Neurog1 and NeuroD1, we used both gain- and loss-of-function experiments to examine the role of Sox2 in spiral ganglion neuron formation. We demonstrate that overexpression of Sox2 results in the production of neurons, suggesting that Sox2 is sufficient for the induction of neuronal fate in nonsensory epithelial cells. Furthermore, spiral ganglion neurons are absent in cochleae from Sox2(Lcc/Lcc) mice, indicating that Sox2 is also required for neuronal formation in the cochlea. Our results indicate that Sox2, along with Neurog1 and NeuroD1, are sufficient to induce a neuronal fate in nonsensory regions of the cochlea. Finally, we demonstrate that nonsensory cells within the cochlea retain neural competence through at least the early postnatal period.
Project description:Integration between cell signals and bHLH transcription factors plays a prominent role during the development of hair cells of the inner ear. Hair cells are the sensory receptors of the inner ear, responsible for the mechano-transduction of sound waves into electrical signals. They derive from multipotent progenitors that reside in the otic placode. Progenitor commitment is the result of cell signaling from the surrounding tissues that result in the restricted expression of SoxB1 transcription factors, Sox2 and Sox3. In turn, they induce the expression of Neurog1 and Atoh1, two bHLH factors that specify neuronal and hair cell fates, respectively. Neuronal and hair cell development, however, do not occur simultaneously. Hair cell development is prevented during neurogenesis and prosensory stages, resulting in the delay of hair cell development with respect to neuron production. Negative interactions between Neurog1 and Atoh1, and of Atoh1 with other bHLH factors driven by Notch signaling, like Hey1 and Hes5, account for this delay. In summary, the regulation of Atoh1 and hair cell development relies on interactions between cell signaling and bHLH transcription factors that dictate cell fate and timing decisions during development. Interestingly, these mechanisms operate as well during hair cell regeneration after damage and during stem cell directed differentiation, making developmental studies instrumental for improving therapies for hearing impairment.
Project description:The functional unit of the inner ear consists of hair cells (HCs) and neurons in the inner ear. Both genes are induced early in development, but Atoh1 expression is counteracted by Neurog1. As a result, HC development is prevented during neurogenesis. This work aimed at understanding the molecular basis of this interaction. Atoh1 regulation depends on a 3’Atoh1-enhancer that is the site for Atoh1 autoregulation. This enhancer recapitulates Atoh1 expression in the embryo and contains putative binding sites for several transcription factors, including basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) factors like Atoh1, Neurog1 and Hes/Hey repressors. Reporter assays on chick embryos and P19 cells show that Neurog1 hampers the autoactivation of Atoh1, the effect being cell autonomous and independent on Notch activity. ATAC-seq analysis shows that the region B of the 3’Atoh1-enhancer is accessible during development and sufficient for both activation and repression. Neurog1 requires the regions flanking the class A E-box bound by Atoh1 to show its repressor effect. However, Neurog1 does not require binding to DNA for Atoh1 repression and prevention of HC formation, but the dimerization domains Helix-1 and Helix-2. The repression of Atoh1 by Neurog1 does not involve the direct interaction between Atoh1 and Neurog1, but rather an indirect effect on the levels of Atoh1 protein. The results suggest that Neurog1 induces the acceleration of Atoh1 mRNA degradation and the consequent reduction of protein levels. Such a mechanism dissociates the prevention of Atoh1 expression in neuro-sensory progenitors from the unfolding of the neurogenic program. Overall design: ATAC-seq in mouse otocysts in E10.5, E14 WT and E14 treated with LY411575
Project description:Atonal homolog 1 (Atoh1) and Neurogenin1 (Neurog1) are basic Helix-Loop-Helix (bHLH) transcription factors crucial for the generation of hair cells (HCs) and neurons in the inner ear. Both genes are induced early in development, but the expression of Atoh1 is counteracted by Neurog1. As a result, HC development is prevented during neurogenesis. This work aimed at understanding the molecular basis of this interaction. Atoh1 regulation depends on a 3'Atoh1-enhancer that is the site for Atoh1 autoregulation. Reporter assays on chick embryos and P19 cells show that Neurog1 hampers the autoactivation of Atoh1, the effect being cell autonomous and independent on Notch activity. Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin with high throughput sequencing (ATAC-Seq) analysis shows that the region B of the 3'Atoh1-enhancer is accessible during development and sufficient for both activation and repression. Neurog1 requires the regions flanking the class A E-box to show its repressor effect, however, it does not require binding to DNA for Atoh1 repression. This depends on the dimerization domains Helix-1 and Helix-2 and the reduction of Atoh1 protein levels. The results point towards the acceleration of Atoh1 mRNA degradation as the potential mechanism for the reduction of Atoh1 levels. Such a mechanism dissociates the prevention of Atoh1 expression in neurosensory progenitors from the unfolding of the neurogenic program.
Project description:The development of the nervous system requires the concerted actions of multiple transcription factors, yet the molecular events leading to their expression remain poorly understood. Barhl1, a mammalian homeodomain transcription factor of the BarH class, is expressed by developing inner ear hair cells, cerebellar granule cells, precerebellar neurons, and collicular neurons. Targeted gene inactivation has demonstrated a crucial role for Barhl1 in the survival and/or migration of these sensory cells and neurons. Here we report the regulatory sequences of Barhl1 necessary for directing its proper spatiotemporal expression pattern in the inner ear and central nervous system (CNS). Using a transgenic approach, we have found that high-level and cell-specific expression of Barhl1 within the inner ear and CNS depends on both its 5' promoter and 3' enhancer sequences. Further transcriptional, binding, and mutational analyses of the 5' promoter have identified two homeoprotein binding motifs that can be occupied and activated by Barhl1. Moreover, proper Barhl1 expression in inner ear hair cells and cerebellar and precerebellar neurons requires the presence of Atoh1. Together, these data delineate useful Barhl1 regulatory sequences that direct strong and specific gene expression to inner ear hair cells and CNS sensory neurons, establish a role for autoregulation in the maintenance of Barhl1 expression, and identify Atoh1 as a key upstream regulator.
Project description:The derivation of human inner ear tissue from pluripotent stem cells would enable in vitro screening of drug candidates for the treatment of hearing and balance dysfunction and may provide a source of cells for cell-based therapies of the inner ear. Here we report a method for differentiating human pluripotent stem cells to inner ear organoids that harbor functional hair cells. Using a three-dimensional culture system, we modulate TGF, BMP, FGF, and WNT signaling to generate multiple otic-vesicle-like structures from a single stem-cell aggregate. Over 2 months, the vesicles develop into inner ear organoids with sensory epithelia that are innervated by sensory neurons. Additionally, using CRISPR-Cas9, we generate an ATOH1-2A-eGFP cell line to detect hair cell induction and demonstrate that derived hair cells exhibit electrophysiological properties similar to those of native sensory hair cells. Our culture system should facilitate the study of human inner ear development and research on therapies for diseases of the inner ear.
Project description:Atonal homolog1 (Atoh1, formerly Math1) is a crucial bHLH transcription factor for inner ear hair cell differentiation. Its absence in embryos results in complete absence of mature hair cells at birth and its misexpression can generate extra hair cells. Thus Atoh1 may be both necessary and sufficient for hair cell differentiation in the ear. Atoh1 null mice die at birth and have some undifferentiated cells in sensory epithelia carrying Atoh1 markers. The fate of these undifferentiated cells in neonates is unknown due to lethality. We use Tg(Pax2-Cre) to delete floxed Atoh1 in the inner ear. This generates viable conditional knockout (CKO) mice for studying the postnatal development of the inner ear without differentiated hair cells. Using in situ hybridization we find that Tg(Pax2-Cre) recombines the floxed Atoh1 prior to detectable Atoh1 expression. Only the posterior canal crista has Atoh1 expressing hair cells due to incomplete recombination. Most of the organ of Corti cells are lost in CKO mice via late embryonic cell death. Marker genes indicate that the organ of Corti is reduced to two rows of cells wedged between flanking markers of the organ of Corti (Fgf10 and Bmp4). These two rows of cells (instead of five rows of supporting cells) are positive for Prox1 in neonates. By postnatal day 14 (P14), the remaining cells of the organ of Corti are transformed into a flat epithelium with no distinction of any specific cell type. However, some of the remaining organ of Corti cells express Myo7a at late postnatal stages and are innervated by remaining afferent fibers. Initial growth of afferents and efferents in embryos shows no difference between control mice and Tg(Pax2-Cre)::Atoh1 CKO mice. Most afferents and efferents are lost in the CKO mutant before birth, except for the apex and few fibers in the base. Afferents focus their projections on patches that express the prosensory specifying gene, Sox2. This pattern of innervation by sensory neurons is maintained at least until P14, but fibers target the few Myo7a positive cells found in later stages.
Project description:The generation of sensory neurons and hair cells of the inner ear is under tight control. Different members of the Hairy and Enhancer of Split genes (HES) are expressed in the inner ear, their full array of functions still not being disclosed. We have previously shown that zebrafish her9 acts as a patterning gene to restrict otic neurogenesis to an anterior domain. Here, we disclose the role of another her gene, her4, a zebrafish ortholog of Hes5 that is expressed in the neurogenic and sensory domains of the inner ear. The expression of her4 is highly dynamic and spatiotemporally regulated. We demonstrate by loss of function experiments that in the neurogenic domain her4 expression is under the regulation of neurogenin1 (neurog1) and the Notch pathway. Moreover, her4 participates in lateral inhibition during otic neurogenesis since her4 knockdown results in overproduction of the number of neurog1 and deltaB-positive otic neurons. In contrast, during sensorigenesis her4 is initially Notch-independent and induced by atoh1b in a broad prosensory domain. At later stages her4 expression becomes Notch-dependent in the future sensory domains but loss of her4 does not result in hair cell overproduction, suggesting that there other her genes can compensate its function.
Project description:Adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be converted into hair cell-like cells by transdetermination.Given the fundamental role sensory hair cells play in sound detection and the irreversibility of their loss in mammals, much research has focused on developing methods to generate new hair cells as a means of treating permanent hearing loss. Although MSCs can differentiate into multiple cell lineages, no efficient means of reprogramming them into sensory hair cells exists. Earlier work has shown that the transcription factor Atoh1 is necessary for early development of hair cells, but it is not clear whether Atoh1 can be used to convert MSCs into hair cells.Clonal MSC cell lines were established and reprogrammed into hair cell-like cells by a combination of protein transfer, adenoviral based gene transfer, and co-culture with neurons. During transdetermination, inner ear molecular markers were analyzed using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and cell structures were examined using immunocytochemistry.Atoh1 overexpression in MSCs failed to convert MSCs into hair cell-like cells, suggesting that the ability of Atoh1 to induce hair cell differentiation is context dependent. Because Atoh1 overexpression successfully transforms VOT-E36 cells into hair cell-like cells, we modified the cell context of MSCs by performing a total protein transfer from VOT-E36 cells before overexpressing Atoh1. The modified MSCs were transformed into hair cell-like cells and attracted contacts from spiral ganglion neurons in a co-culture model.We established a new procedure, consisting of VOT-E36 protein transfer, Atoh1 overexpression, and co-culture with spiral ganglion neurons, which can transform MSCs into hair cell-like cells.