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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36066. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036066. Epub 2012 May 3.

Stemness of the organ of Corti relates to the epigenetic status of Sox2 enhancers.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Hearing Research Center Tübingen, University of Tübingen Medical Center, Tübingen, Germany.


In the adult mammalian auditory epithelium, the organ of Corti, loss of sensory hair cells results in permanent hearing loss. The underlying cause for the lack of regenerative response is the depletion of otic progenitors in the cell pool of the sensory epithelium. Here, we show that an increase in the sequence-specific methylation of the otic Sox2 enhancers NOP1 and NOP2 is correlated with a reduced self-renewal potential in vivo and in vitro; additionally, the degree of methylation of NOP1 and NOP2 is correlated with the dedifferentiation potential of postmitotic supporting cells into otic stem cells. Thus, the stemness the organ of Corti is related to the epigenetic status of the otic Sox2 enhancers. These observations validate the continued exploration of treatment strategies for dedifferentiating or reprogramming of differentiated supporting cells into progenitors to regenerate the damaged organ of Corti.

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