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Hear Res. 1999 Aug;134(1-2):71-6.

Effects of a hair cell transcription factor, Brn-3.1, gene deletion on homozygous and heterozygous mouse cochleas in adulthood and aging.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of California, San Diego Medical School, VAMC, La Jolla 92093-0666, USA.


The transcription factor Brn-3.1, is expressed in the inner ear hair cells throughout life and is necessary for the development of these cells. Mutant mice in which the Brn-3.1 encoding region has been deleted have no identifiable hair cells, greatly reduced numbers of spiral ganglion cells and are deaf. A mutation in the human homologue of this gene has been shown to be related to adult onset, sensorineural hearing loss (Vahava et al., 1998). The question whether haploinsufficiency in the mutant Brn-3.1 mouse with a mixed C57BL6/129Sv genetic background could affect the adult or aged cochlea was tested, therefore, by measuring the auditory brainstem responses and examining the cochlea's histologically at 2, 18 and 24 months of age. The heterozygotes had a comparable hearing to the wild-type animals and similar patterns of cochlear degeneration. Both groups showed an about 30 dB hearing loss beginning at 18 months of age, outer hair cell degeneration and loss of spiral ganglion neurons in the basal turn. There appeared to be no effect of Brn-3.1 haploinsufficiency on the mouse cochlea, implying that one intact copy of the gene is sufficient to maintain a normal cochlea.

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