Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 205 - 213 (2017)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.160453ka
© UPV/EHU Press

Single cell analysis of the inner ear sensory organs

Ofer Yizhar-Barnea and Karen B. Avraham*

Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

ABSTRACT The inner ear is composed of a complex mixture of cells, which together allow organisms to hear and maintain balance. The cells in the inner ear, which undergo an extraordinary process of development, have only recently begun to be studied on an individual level. As it has recently become clear that individual cells, previously considered to be of uniform character, may differ dramatically from each other, the need to study cell-to-cell variation, along with distinct transcriptional and regulatory signatures, has taken hold in the scientific community. In conjunction with high-throughput technologies, attempts are underway to dissect the inter- and intra-cellular variability of different cell types and developmental states of the inner ear from a novel perspective. Single cell analysis of the inner ear sensory organs holds the promise of providing a significant boost in building an omics network that translates into a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of hearing and balance. These networks may uncover critical elements for trans-differentiation, regeneration and/or reprogramming, providing entry points for therapeutics of deafness and vestibular pathologies.

Keywords:

cochlea, vestibule, mice, hearing, deafness, transcriptome

*Corresponding author e-mail: karena@post.tau.ac.il