• cochlea;
  • inner ear;
  • hair cell;
  • Gfi1;
  • deafness;
  • mouse


A dominant mutation of the gene encoding the POU4F3 transcription factor underlies human non-syndromic progressive hearing loss DFNA15. Using oligonucleotide microarrays to generate expression profiles of inner ears of Pou4f3ddl/ddl mutant and wild-type mice, we have identified and validated Lhx3, a LIM domain transcription factor, as an in vivo target gene regulated by Pou4f3. Lhx3 is a hair cell-specific gene expressed in all hair cells of the auditory and vestibular system as early as embryonic day 16. The level of Lhx3 mRNA is greatly reduced in the inner ears of embryonic Pou4f3 mutant mice. Our data also show that the expression of Lhx3 is regulated differently in auditory and vestibular hair cells. This is the first example of a hair cell-specific gene expressed both in auditory and in vestibular hair cells, with differential regulation of expression in these two closely related systems.