Int. J. Dev. Biol. 51: 521 - 533 (2007)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072381jb
© UBC Press

Patterning and morphogenesis of the vertebrate inner ear

Jinwoong Bok, Weise Chang and Doris K. Wu*

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Rockville, MD, USA

ABSTRACT The positional cues for formation of individual inner ear components are dependent on pre-established axial information conferred by inductive signals from tissues surrounding the developing inner ear. This review summarizes some of the known molecular pathways involved in establishing the three axes of the inner ear, anterior-posterior (AP), dorsal-ventral (DV) and medial-lateral (ML). Signals required to establish the AP axis of the inner ear are not known, but they do not appear to be derived from the hindbrain. In contrast, the hindbrain is essential for establishing the DV axis of the inner ear by providing inductive signals such as Wnts and Sonic hedgehog. Signaling from the hindbrain is also required for the formation of the ML axis, whereas formation of the lateral wall of the otocyst may be a result of first establishing both the AP and DV axes. In addition, this review addresses how genes induced within the otic epithelium as a result of axial specification continue to mediate inner ear morphogenesis.

Keywords:

inner ear, morphogenesis, vertebrate, axial specification, patterning

*Corresponding author e-mail: wud@nidcd.nih.gov