Continued expression of GATA3 is necessary for cochlear neurosensory development.
ABSTRACT: Hair cells of the developing mammalian inner ear are progressively defined through cell fate restriction. This process culminates in the expression of the bHLH transcription factor Atoh1, which is necessary for differentiation of hair cells, but not for their specification. Loss of several genes will disrupt ear morphogenesis or arrest of neurosensory epithelia development. We previously showed in null mutants that the loss of the transcription factor, Gata3, results specifically in the loss of all cochlear neurosensory development. Temporal expression of Gata3 is broad from the otic placode stage through the postnatal ear. It therefore remains unclear at which stage in development Gata3 exerts its effect. To better understand the stage specific effects of Gata3, we investigated the role of Gata3 in cochlear neurosensory specification and differentiation utilizing a LoxP targeted Gata3 line and two Cre lines. Foxg1(Cre)?Gata3(f/f) mice show recombination of Gata3 around E8.5 but continue to develop a cochlear duct without differentiated hair cells and spiral ganglion neurons. qRT-PCR data show that Atoh1 was down-regulated but not absent in the duct whereas other hair cell specific genes such as Pou4f3 were completely absent. In addition, while Sox2 levels were lower in the Foxg1(Cre):Gata3(f/f) cochlea, Eya1 levels remained normal. We conclude that Eya1 is unable to fully upregulate Atoh1 or Pou4f3, and drive differentiation of hair cells without Gata3. Pax2-Cre?Gata3(f/f) mice show a delayed recombination of Gata3 in the ear relative to Foxg1(Cre):Gata3(f/f) . These mice exhibited a cochlear duct containing patches of partially differentiated hair cells and developed only few and incorrectly projecting spiral ganglion neurons. Our conditional deletion studies reveal a major role of Gata3 in the signaling of prosensory genes and in the differentiation of cochlear neurosenory cells. We suggest that Gata3 may act in combination with Eya1, Six1, and Sox2 in cochlear prosensory gene signaling.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) post-transcriptionally repress complementary target gene expression and can contribute to cell differentiation. The coordinate expression of miRNA-183 family members (miR-183, miR-96, and miR-182) has been demonstrated in sensory cells of the mouse inner ear and other vertebrate sensory organs. To further examine hair cell miRNA expression in the mouse inner ear, we have analyzed miR-183 family expression in wild type animals and various mutants with defects in neurosensory development. miR-183 family member expression follows neurosensory cell specification, exhibits longitudinal (basal-apical) gradients in maturating cochlear hair cells, and is maintained in sensory neurons and most hair cells into adulthood. Depletion of hair cell miRNAs resulting from Dicer1 conditional knockout (CKO) in Atoh1-Cre transgenic mice leads to more disparate basal-apical gene expression profiles and eventual hair cell loss. Results suggest that hair cell miRNAs subdue cochlear gradient gene expression and are required for hair cell maintenance and survival.
Project description:Inner-ear hair cell differentiation requires Atoh1 function, while Eya1, Six1, and Sox2 are coexpressed in sensory progenitors and mutations in these genes cause sensorineural hearing loss. However, how these genes are linked functionally and the transcriptional networks controlling hair cell induction remain unclear. Here, we show (1) that Eya1/Six1 are necessary for hair cell development, and their coexpression in mouse cochlear explants is sufficient to induce hair cell fate in the nonsensory epithelium expressing low-level Sox2 by activating not only Atoh1-dependent but also Atoh1-independent pathways and (2) that both pathways induce Pou4f3 to promote hair cell differentiation. Sox2 cooperates with Eya1/Six1 to synergistically activate Atoh1 transcription via direct binding to the conserved Sox- and Six-binding sites in Atoh1 enhancers, and these proteins physically interact. Our findings demonstrate that direct and cooperative interactions between the Sox2, Six1, and Eya1 proteins coordinate Atoh1 expression to specify hair cell fate.
Project description:HDR syndrome (also known as Barakat syndrome) is a developmental disorder characterized by hypoparathyroidism, sensorineural deafness and renal disease. Although genetic mapping and subsequent functional studies indicate that GATA3 haplo-insufficiency causes human HDR syndrome, the role of Gata3 in sensorineural deafness and auditory system development is largely unknown. In this study, we show that Gata3 is continuously expressed in the developing mouse inner ear. Conditional knockout of Gata3 in the developing inner ear disrupts the morphogenesis of mouse inner ear, resulting in a disorganized and shortened cochlear duct with significant fewer hair cells and supporting cells. Loss of Gata3 function leads to the failure in the specification of prosensory domain and subsequently, to increased cell death in the cochlear duct. Moreover, though the initial generation of cochleovestibular ganglion (CVG) cells is not affected in Gata3-null mice, spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) are nearly depleted due to apoptosis. Our results demonstrate the essential role of Gata3 in specifying the prosensory domain in the cochlea and in regulating the survival of SGNs, thus identifying a molecular mechanism underlying human HDR syndrome.
Project description:Sox2 is a high-mobility transcription factor that is one of the earliest markers of developing inner ear prosensory domains. In humans, mutations in SOX2 cause sensorineural hearing loss and a loss of function study in mice showed that Sox2 is required for prosensory formation in the cochlea. However, the specific roles of Sox2 have not been determined. Here we illustrate a dynamic role of Sox2 as an early permissive factor in prosensory domain formation followed by a mutually antagonistic relationship with Atoh1, a bHLH protein necessary for hair cell development. We demonstrate that decreased levels of Sox2 result in precocious hair cell differentiation and an over production of inner hair cells and that these effects are likely mediated through an antagonistic interaction between Sox2 and the bHLH molecule Atoh1. Using gain- and loss-of-function experiments we provide evidence for the molecular pathway responsible for the formation of the cochlear prosensory domain. Sox2 expression is promoted by Notch signaling and Prox1, a homeobox transcription factor, is a downstream target of Sox2. These results demonstrate crucial and diverse roles for Sox2 in the development, specification, and maintenance of sensory cells within the cochlea.
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: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:Otic ectoderm gives rise to almost all cell types of the inner ear; however, the mechanisms that link transcription factors, chromatin, lineage commitment and differentiation capacity are largely unknown. Here we show that Brg1 chromatin-remodeling factor is required for specifying neurosensory lineage in the otocyst and for inducing hair and supporting cell fates in the cochlear sensory epithelium. Brg1 interacts with the critical neurosensory-specific transcription factors Eya1/Six1, both of which simultaneously interact with BAF60a or BAF60c. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) and ChIP assays demonstrate Brg1 association with discrete regulatory elements at the Eya1 and Six1 loci. Brg1-deficiency leads to markedly decreased Brg1 binding at these elements and loss of Eya1 and Six1 expression. Furthermore, ChIP-seq reveals Brg1-bound promoter-proximal and distal regions near genes essential for inner ear morphogenesis and cochlear sensory epithelium development. These findings uncover essential functions for chromatin-remodeling in the activation of neurosensory fates during inner ear development. Overall design: Investigating the role of Brg1 in gene regulation programs in embryonic cochlea Please note that the cochlea-brg1*.bed files were generated from both Cochlea_IgG_control and Brg1_coch samples and linked as Series supplementary files.
Project description:SOX2 is essential for maintaining neurosensory stem cell properties, although its involvement in the early neurosensory development of cranial placodes remains unclear. To address this, we used Foxg1-Cre to conditionally delete Sox2 during eye, ear, and olfactory placode development. Foxg1-Cre mediated early deletion of Sox2 eradicates all olfactory placode development, and disrupts retinal development and invagination of the lens placode. In contrast to the lens and olfactory placodes, the ear placode invaginates and delaminates NEUROD1 positive neurons. Furthermore, we show that SOX2 is not necessary for early ear neurogenesis, since the early inner ear ganglion is formed with near normal central projections to the hindbrain and peripheral projections to the undifferentiated sensory epithelia of E11.5-12.5 ears. However, later stages of ear neurosensory development, in particular, the late forming auditory system, critically depend on the presence of SOX2. Our data establish distinct differences for SOX2 requirements among placodal sensory organs with similarities between olfactory and lens but not ear placode development, consistent with the unique neurosensory development and molecular properties of the ear.
Project description:The mammalian organ of Corti of the inner ear is a highly sophisticated sensory end organ responsible for detecting sound. Noggin is a secreted glycoprotein, which antagonizes bone morphogenetic proteins 2 and 4 (Bmp2 and Bmp4). The lack of this antagonist causes increased rows of inner and outer hair cells in the organ of Corti. In mice, Bmp2 is expressed transiently in nascent cochlear hair cells. To investigate whether Noggin normally modulates the levels of Bmp2 for hair cell formation, we deleted Bmp2 in the cochlear hair cells using two cre strains, Foxg1(cre/+) and Gfi1(cre/+). Bmp2 conditional knockout cochleae generated using these two cre strains show normal hair cells. Furthermore, Gfi1(cre/+);Bmp2(lox/-) mice are viable and have largely normal hearing. The combined results of Noggin and Bmp2 mutants suggest that Noggin is likely to regulate other Bmps in the cochlea such as Bmp4.
Project description:The role of Sox2 in neurosensory development is not yet fully understood. Using mice with conditional Islet1-cre mediated deletion of Sox2, we explored the function of Sox2 in neurosensory development in a model with limited cell type diversification, the inner ear. In Sox2 conditional mutants, neurons initially appear to form normally, whereas late- differentiating neurons of the cochlear apex never form. Variable numbers of hair cells differentiate in the utricle, saccule, and cochlear base but sensory epithelium formation is completely absent in the apex and all three cristae of the semicircular canal ampullae. Hair cells differentiate only in sensory epithelia known or proposed to have a lineage relationship of neurons and hair cells. All initially formed neurons lacking hair cell targets die by apoptosis days after they project toward non-existing epithelia. Therefore, late neuronal development depends directly on Sox2 for differentiation and on the survival of hair cells, possibly derived from common neurosensory precursors.