Hammond, K.L., and Whitfield, T.T. (2011) Fgf and Hh signalling act on a symmetrical pre-pattern to specify anterior and posterior identity in the zebrafish otic placode and vesicle. Development (Cambridge, England). 138:3977-3987.
Specification of the otic anteroposterior axis is one of the earliest patterning events during inner ear development. In zebrafish,
Hedgehog signalling is necessary and sufficient to specify posterior otic identity between the 10 somite (otic placode) and
20 somite (early otic vesicle) stages. We now show that Fgf signalling is both necessary and sufficient for anterior otic
specification during a similar period, a function that is completely separable from its earlier role in otic placode induction.
In lia-/- (fgf3-/-) mutants, anterior otic character is reduced, but not lost altogether. Blocking all Fgf signalling at 10-20 somites, however,
using the pan-Fgf inhibitor SU5402, results in the loss of anterior otic structures and a mirror image duplication of posterior
regions. Conversely, overexpression of fgf3 during a similar period, using a heat-shock inducible transgenic line, results in the loss of posterior otic structures and
a duplication of anterior domains. These phenotypes are opposite to those observed when Hedgehog signalling is altered. Loss
of both Fgf and Hedgehog function between 10 and 20 somites results in symmetrical otic vesicles with neither anterior nor
posterior identity, which, nevertheless, retain defined poles at the anterior and posterior ends of the ear. These data suggest
that Fgf and Hedgehog act on a symmetrical otic pre-pattern to specify anterior and posterior otic identity, respectively.
Each signalling pathway has instructive activity: neither acts simply to repress activity of the other, and, together, they
appear to be key players in the specification of anteroposterior asymmetries in the zebrafish ear.