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Dev Biol. 2010 Jan 15;337(2):324-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.11.001. Epub 2009 Nov 6.

Distinct contributions from the hindbrain and mesenchyme to inner ear morphogenesis.

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National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 5 Research Court, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


A mature inner ear is a complex structure consisting of vestibular and auditory components. Microsurgical ablations, rotations, and translocations were performed in ovo to identify the tissues that control inner ear morphogenesis. We show that mesenchyme/ectoderm adjacent to the developing ear specifically governs the shape of vestibular components - the semicircular canals and ampullae - by conferring anteroposterior axial information to these structures. In contrast, removal of individual hindbrain rhombomeres adjacent to the developing ear preferentially affects the growth and morphogenesis of the auditory subdivision, the cochlear duct, or basilar papilla. Removal of rhombomere 5 affects cochlear duct growth, while rhombomere 6 removal affects cochlear growth and morphogenesis. Rotating rhombomeres 5 and 6 along the anteroposterior axis also impacts cochlear duct morphogenesis but has little effect on the vestibular components. Our studies indicate that discrete tissues, acting at a distance, control the morphogenesis of distinct elements of the inner ear. These results provide a basis for identifying factors that are essential to vestibular and auditory development in vertebrates.

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