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Keywords:

  • Sonic Hedgehog (Shh);
  • cochlear duct;
  • hair cell;
  • spiral ganglion neuron;
  • differentiation

Abstract

Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling plays important roles in the formation of the auditory epithelium. However, little is known about the detailed expression pattern of Shh and the cell sources from which Shh is secreted. By analyzing ShhCreEGFP/+ mice, we found that Shh was first expressed in all cochlear spiral ganglion neurons by embryonic day 13.5, after which its expression gradually decreased from base to apex. By postnatal day 0, it was not detected in any spiral ganglion neurons. Genetic cell fate mapping results also confirmed that Shh was exclusively expressed in all spiral ganglion neurons and not in surrounding glia cells. The basal-to-apical wave of Shh decline strongly resembles that of hair cell differentiation, supporting the idea that Shh signaling inhibits hair cell differentiation. Furthermore, this ShhCreEGFP/+ mouse is a useful Cre line in which to delete floxed genes specifically in spiral ganglion neurons of the developing cochlea. Developmental Dynamics 239:1674–1683, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.