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1.  Identification of differentially expressed genes in early inner ear development 
To understand the etiology of congenital hearing loss, a comprehensive understanding of the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying normal ear development is required. We are identifying genes involved in otogenesis, with the longer term goal of studying their mechanisms of action, leading to inner ear induction and patterning. Using Agilent microarrays, we compared the differential expression of a test domain (which consisted of the pre-otic placodal ectoderm with the adjacent hindbrain ectoderm and the underlying mesendodermal tissues) with a rostral control domain (which included tissue that is competent, but not specified, to express inner ear markers in explant assays). We identified 1,261 transcripts differentially expressed between the two domains at a 2-fold or greater change: 463 were upregulated and 798 were downregulated in the test domain. We validated the differential expression of several signaling molecules and transcription factors identified in this array using in situ hybridization. Furthermore, the expression patterns of the validated group of genes from the test domain were explored in detail to determine how the timing of their expression relates to specific events of otic induction and development. In conclusion, we identified a number of novel candidate genes for otic placode induction.
PMCID: PMC2818654  PMID: 19913109
Otic induction; inner ear; Wnt; Fgf; Notch; Hox; otic placode; microarray; gene expression screen

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