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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 May 12;106(19):7915-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812446106. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

MicroRNAs are essential for development and function of inner ear hair cells in vertebrates.

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Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) inhibit the translation of target mRNAs and affect, directly or indirectly, the expression of a large portion of the protein-coding genes. This study focuses on miRNAs that are expressed in the mouse cochlea and vestibule, the 2 inner ear compartments. A conditional knock-out mouse for Dicer1 demonstrated that miRNAs are crucial for postnatal survival of functional hair cells of the inner ear. We identified miRNAs that have a role in the vertebrate developing inner ear by combining miRNA transcriptome analysis, spatial and temporal expression patterns, and bioinformatics. Microarrays revealed similar miRNA profiles in newborn-mouse whole cochleae and vestibules, but different temporal and spatial expression patterns of six miRNAs (miR-15a, miR-18a, miR-30b, miR-99a, miR-182, and miR-199a) may reflect their roles. Two of these miRNAs, miR-15a-1 and miR-18a, were also shown to be crucial for zebrafish inner ear development and morphogenesis. To suggest putative target mRNAs whose translation may be inhibited by selected miRNAs, we combined bioinformatics-based predictions and mRNA expression data. Finally, we present indirect evidence that Slc12a2, Cldn12, and Bdnf mRNAs may be targets for miR-15a. Our data support the hypothesis that inner ear tissue differentiation and maintenance are regulated and controlled by conserved sets of cell-specific miRNAs in both mouse and zebrafish.

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