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Int J Dev Biol. 2007;51(6-7):463-72.

The first steps towards hearing: mechanisms of otic placode induction.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, House Ear Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


The entire inner ear, together with the neurons that innervate it, derive from a simple piece of ectoderm on the side of the embryonic head the otic placode. In this review, we describe the current state of the field of otic placode induction. Several lines of evidence suggest that all craniofacial sensory organs, including the inner ear, derive from a common "pre-placodal region" early in development. We review data showing that assumption of a pre-placodal cell state correlates with the competence of embryonic ectoderm to respond to otic placode inducing signals, such as members of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family. We also review evidence for FGF-independent signals that contribute to the induction of the otic placode. Finally, we review recent evidence suggesting that Wnt signals may act after FGF signaling to mediate a cell fate decision between otic placode and epidermis.

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