Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study of inner ear development hints at way to restore hearing and balance

27.10.2015

Scientists have identified 2 genes crucial to the production of delicate sensors, called hair cells, in mammals

Loud noise, trauma, infections, plain old aging--many things can destroy hair cells, the delicate sensors of balance and sound within the inner ear. And once these sensors are gone, that's it; the delicate hair cells don't grow back in humans, leading to hearing loss and problems with balance.


One of the two proteins, Sox4 (magenta), appears at the outer edge of the developing utricle, and occasionally within the nuclei of new hair cells (green). Proliferating support cells, which in some cases become hair cells, appear in white.

Credit: Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University/PNAS

But scientists hope to find a way to regenerate these cells by examining how they develop in the first place. New research at Rockefeller University, in A. James Hudspeth's Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience, has identified two genes pivotal to the production of hair cells in young mice, who, just like human babies, lose the ability to generate these sensors shortly after birth. The study was published the week of October 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

First author, Ksenia Gnedeva, a postdoc in the lab, began by examining changes in gene expression in the utricle, a hair cell-lined organ within the inner ear that detects motion.

She saw that the activity of two genes dropped dramatically shortly after the mice were born and hair cells ceased to develop in their utricles. These genes code for the proteins Sox4 and Sox11, which play a role in shaping the identity cells assume by regulating the expression of other genes.

Gnedeva tested these proteins' involvement in hair cell formation by altering their expression. When both genes were shut down, she found that the entire inner ear, not just the utricle, developed abnormally.

In other experiments, she turned on the genes in older mice whose hair cells were fully matured, and discovered that this gene activation could induce the production of new hair cells within a fully developed utricle.

She is now exploring the series of molecular interactions that normally lead to the activation of these proteins and the steps that follow. "Our ultimate goal is to find a target that would allow us to restore hair cells later on in life. It appears possible that these proteins, or perhaps other steps in the same pathway, might be potential targets," she says.

###

Hudspeth, the study's senior author, is the F.M. Kirby Professor at Rockefeller and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Wynne Parry | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Novel communication between intestinal microbes and developing immune cells in the thymus
24.01.2020 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Preventing metastasis by stopping cancer cells from making fat
23.01.2020 | Université catholique de Louvain

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Integrate Micro Chips for electronic Skin

Researchers from Dresden and Osaka present the first fully integrated flexible electronics made of magnetic sensors and organic circuits which opens the path towards the development of electronic skin.

Human skin is a fascinating and multifunctional organ with unique properties originating from its flexible and compliant nature. It allows for interfacing with...

Im Focus: Dresden researchers discover resistance mechanism in aggressive cancer

Protease blocks guardian function against uncontrolled cell division

Researchers of the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital Dresden at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC), together with an international...

Im Focus: New roles found for Huntington's disease protein

Crucial role in synapse formation could be new avenue toward treatment

A Duke University research team has identified a new function of a gene called huntingtin, a mutation of which underlies the progressive neurodegenerative...

Im Focus: A new look at 'strange metals'

For years, a new synthesis method has been developed at TU Wien (Vienna) to unlock the secrets of "strange metals". Now a breakthrough has been achieved. The results have been published in "Science".

Superconductors allow electrical current to flow without any resistance - but only below a certain critical temperature. Many materials have to be cooled down...

Im Focus: Programmable nests for cells

KIT researchers develop novel composites of DNA, silica particles, and carbon nanotubes -- Properties can be tailored to various applications

Using DNA, smallest silica particles, and carbon nanotubes, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed novel programmable materials....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers discover vaccine to strengthen the immune system of plants

24.01.2020 | Life Sciences

Brain-cell helpers powered by norepinephrine during fear-memory formation

24.01.2020 | Life Sciences

Engineered capillaries model traffic in tiny blood vessels

24.01.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>