• stapes;
  • oval window;
  • neural crest;
  • lineage labeling;
  • mesoderm


Background: The stapes, an ossicle found within the middle ear, is involved in transmitting sound waves to the inner ear by means of the oval window. There are several developmental problems associated with this ossicle and the oval window, which cause hearing loss. The developmental origin of these tissues has not been fully elucidated. Results: Using transgenic reporter mice, we have shown that the stapes is of dual origin with the stapedial footplate being composed of cells of both neural crest and mesodermal origin. Wnt1cre/Dicer mice fail to develop neural crest-derived cartilages, therefore, have no middle ear ossicles. We have shown in these mice the mesodermal stapedial footplate fails to form and the oval window is induced but underdeveloped. Conclusions: If the neural crest part of the stapes fails to form the mesodermal part does not develop, indicating that the two parts are interdependent. The stapes develops tightly associated with the otic capsule, however, it is not essential for the positioning of the oval window, suggesting that other tissues, perhaps within the inner ear are needed for oval window placement. Developmental Dynamics 241:1396–1404, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.