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Keywords:

  • Sox9;
  • vestibular;
  • auditory;
  • semicircular canals;
  • utricle;
  • saccule;
  • Xenopus

Abstract

The transcription factor Sox9 has been implicated in inner ear formation in several species. To investigate the long-term consequences of Sox9 depletion on inner ear development we analyzed the inner ear architecture of Sox9-depleted Xenopus tadpoles generated by injection of increasing amounts of Sox9 morpholino antisense oligonucleotides. We found that Sox9-depletion resulted in major defects in the development of vestibular structures, semicircular canals and utricle, while the ventrally located saccule was less severely affected in these embryos. Consistent with this phenotype, we observed a specific loss of the dorsal expression of Wnt3a expression in the otic vesicle of Sox9 morphants, associated with an increase in cell death and a reduction in cell proliferation in the region of the presumptive otic epithelium. We propose that, in addition to its early role in placode specification, Sox9 is also required for the maintenance of progenitors in the otic epithelium. Developmental Dynamics 239:1102–1112, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.