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Dev Neurobiol. 2009 Feb 1-15;69(2-3):191-202. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20684.

Expression of the Pax2 transcription factor is associated with vestibular phenotype in the avian inner ear.

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Fay and Carl Simons Center for the Biology of Hearing and Deafness, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The paired-domain transcription factor Pax2 is involved in many facets of inner ear development, but relatively little is known about the expression or function of Pax2 in the mature ear. In this study, we have used immunohistochemical methods to characterize the expression patterns of Pax2 in the sensory organs of inner ears from posthatch chicks. Immunoreactivity for Pax2 was observed in the nuclei of most hair cells and supporting cells in the vestibular organs. In contrast, Pax2 expression in the chick cochlea was limited to hair cells located in the very distal (low frequency) region. We then used organotypic cultures of the chick utricle to examine changes in Pax2 expression in response to ototoxic injury and during hair cell regeneration. Treatment with streptomycin resulted in the loss of most Pax2 immunoreactivity from the lumenal (hair cell) stratum of the utricle. During the early phases of regeneration, moderate Pax2 expression was maintained in the nuclei of proliferating supporting cells. Expression of Pax2 in the hair cell stratum recovered in parallel with hair cell regeneration. The results indicate that Pax2 continues to be expressed in the mature avian ear, and that its expression pattern is correlated with a vestibular phenotype.

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