The developing lamprey ear closely resembles the zebrafish otic vesicle: otx1 expression can account for all major patterning differences

Hammond, K.L., and Whitfield, T.T.
Development (Cambridge, England)   133(7): 1347-1357 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Hammond, Katherine L., Whitfield, Tanya T.
Lamprey, Zebrafish, Agnathan, Gnathostome, Inner ear, Otic vesicle, Macula, follistatin, ptc, otx, Evolution, Placode, Hair cell, Planar polarity pattern
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Ear/embryology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lampreys/embryology*
  • Lampreys/genetics
  • Microinjections
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense/pharmacology
  • Otx Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Otx Transcription Factors/metabolism*
  • Phalloidine
  • Zebrafish/embryology*
  • Zebrafish/genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins/genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins/metabolism*
16510503 Full text @ Development
The inner ear of adult agnathan vertebrates is relatively symmetric about the anteroposterior axis, with only two semicircular canals and a single sensory macula. This contrasts with the highly asymmetric gnathostome arrangement of three canals and several separate maculae. Symmetric ears can be obtained experimentally in gnathostomes in several ways, including by manipulation of zebrafish Hedgehog signalling, and it has been suggested that these phenotypes might represent an atavistic condition. We have found, however, that the symmetry of the adult lamprey inner ear is not reflected in its early development; the lamprey otic vesicle is highly asymmetric about the anteroposterior axis, both morphologically and molecularly, and bears a striking resemblance to the zebrafish otic vesicle. The single sensory macula originates as two foci of hair cells, and later shows regions of homology to the zebrafish utricular and saccular maculae. It is likely, therefore, that the last common ancestor of lampreys and gnathostomes already had well-defined otic anteroposterior asymmetries. Both lamprey and zebrafish otic vesicles express a target of Hedgehog signalling, patched, indicating that both are responsive to Hedgehog signalling. One significant distinction between agnathans and gnathostomes, however, is the acquisition of otic Otx1 expression in the gnathostome lineage. We show that Otx1 knockdown in zebrafish, as in Otx1(-/-) mice, gives rise to lamprey-like inner ears. The role of Otx1 in the gnathostome ear is therefore highly conserved; otic Otx1 expression is likely to account not only for the gain of a third semicircular canal and crista in gnathostomes, but also for the separation of the zones of the single macula into distinct regions.
Genes / Markers
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Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes