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Development. 2003 Jun;130(11):2375-84.

Wnt signaling mediates reorientation of outer hair cell stereociliary bundles in the mammalian cochlea.

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Section on Developmental Neuroscience, NIDCD, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


In the mammalian cochlea, stereociliary bundles located on mechanosensory hair cells within the sensory epithelium are unidirectionally oriented. Development of this planar polarity is necessary for normal hearing as stereociliary bundles are only sensitive to vibrations in a single plane; however, the mechanisms governing their orientation are unknown. We report that Wnt signaling regulates the development of unidirectional stereociliary bundle orientation. In vitro application of Wnt7a protein or inhibitors of Wnt signaling, secreted Frizzled-related protein 1 or Wnt inhibitory factor 1, disrupts bundle orientation. Moreover, Wnt7a is expressed in a pattern consistent with a role in the polarization of the developing stereociliary bundles. We propose that Wnt signaling across the region of developing outer hair cells gives rise to planar polarity in the mammalian cochlea.

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