• chicken development;
  • cochlea;
  • delta-protocadherin;
  • gene expression


The delta-protocadherin (δ-Pcdh) family of transmembrane proteins belongs to the cadherin superfamily, which is involved in embryogenesis mediated by a homophilic binding during the embryonic development. In the present study, expression patterns of eight members of the δ-Pcdh family were investigated in the developing chicken cochlea by in situ hybridization. Our results provide a dynamical profile to show that the δ-Pcdhs are expressed spatially and temporally in the developing chicken cochleae. The earliest onset of the δ-Pcdh expression begins in the otic vesicle from embryonic incubation day (E) 3. From E11 onwards, the individual δ-Pcdh is expressed in different cell types of the cochlea. Protocadherin-1 (Pcdh1) is mainly expressed by spindle-shaped cells and acoustic ganglion cells; Pcdh7 and Pcdh17 are strongly expressed by supporting cells, cuboidal cells, hyaline cells and acoustic ganglion cells, and Pcdh9 is prominently expressed by homogene cells and acoustic ganglion cells; Pcdh8 was found to be transcribed in hair cells, spindle-shaped cells and acoustic ganglion cells; Pcdh10 mRNA is restricted to spindle-shaped cells and acoustic ganglion cells at later stages. mRNAs of Pcdh1, Pcdh18 and Pcdh19 are also expressed in blood vessels of the cochlea. The expression of the different δ-Pcdhs suggests a functional role for them during cochlear development.