Comprehensive Wnt-related gene expression during cochlear duct development in chicken



The avian cochlear duct houses both a vestibular and auditory sensory organ (the lagena macula and basilar papilla, respectively), which each have a distinct structure and function. Comparative mRNA in situ hybridization mapping conducted over the time course of chicken cochlear duct development reveals that Wnt-related gene expression is concomitant with various developmental processes such as regionalization, convergent extension of the cochlear duct, cell fate specification, synaptogenesis, and the establishment of planar cell polarity. Wnts mostly originate from nonsensory tissue domains, whereas the sensory primordia preferentially transcribe Frizzled receptors, suggesting that paracrine Wnt signaling predominates in the cochlear duct. Superimposed over this is the strong expression of two secreted Frizzled-related Wnt inhibitors that tend to show complementary expression patterns. Frzb (SFRP3) is confined to the nonsensory cochlear duct and the lagena macula, whereas SFRP2 is maintained in the basilar papilla along with Fzd10 and Wnt7b. Flanking the basilar papilla are Wnt7a, Wnt9a, Wnt11, and SFRP2 on the neural side and Wnt5a, Wnt5b, and Wnt7a on the abneural side. The lateral nonsensory cochlear duct continuously expresses Frzb and temporarily expresses Wnt6 and SFRP1. Characteristic for the entire lagena is the expression of Frzb; in the lagena macula are Fzd1, Fzd7, and Wnt7b, and in the nonsensory tissues are Wnt4 and Wnt5a. Auditory hair cells preferentially express Fzd2 and Fzd9, whereas the main receptors expressed in vestibular hair cells are Fzd1 and Fzd7, in addition to Fzd2 and Fzd9. J. Comp. Neurol. 510:378–395, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.