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Dev Dyn. 2004 Feb;229(2):219-30.

DAN directs endolymphatic sac and duct outgrowth in the avian inner ear.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Cell and Molecular Biology Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are expressed in the developing vertebrate inner ear and participate in inner ear axial patterning and the development of its sensory epithelium. BMP antagonists, such as noggin, chordin, gremlin, cerberus, and DAN (differential screening-selected gene aberrative in neuroblastoma) inhibit BMP activity and establish morphogenetic gradients during the patterning of many developing tissues and organs. In this study, the role of the BMP antagonist DAN in inner ear development was investigated. DAN-expressing cell pellets were implanted into the otocyst and the periotic mesenchyme to determine the effects of exogenous DAN on otic development. Similar to the effects on the inner ear seen after exposure of otocysts to the BMP4 antagonist noggin, semicircular canals were truncated or eliminated based upon the site of pellet implantation. Unique to the DAN implantations, however, were effects on the developing endolymphatic duct and sac. In DAN-treated inner ears, endolymphatic ducts and sacs were merged with the crus or grew into the superior semicircular canal. Both the canal and endolymphatic duct and sac effects were rescued by joint implantation of BMP4-expressing cells. Electroporation of DAN antisense morpholinos into the epithelium of stage 15-17 otocysts, blocking DAN protein synthesis, resulted in enlarged endolymphatic ducts and sacs as well as smaller semicircular canals in some cases. Taken together, these data suggest a role for DAN both in helping to regulate BMP activity spatially and temporally and in patterning and partitioning of the medial otic tissue between the endolymphatic duct/sac and medially derived inner ear structures.

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