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Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00156

Intracellular regulome variability along the organ of Corti: evidence, approaches, challenges and perspective

  • 1Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine, Carver College of Medicine,, University of Iowa, United States
  • 2Molecular Otolaryngology and Renal Research Laboratories, Department of Otolaryngology,, University of Iowa, United States
  • 3Department of Biology, University of Iowa, United States

The mammalian hearing organ is a regular array of two types of hair cells surrounded by six types of supporting cells. Along the tonotopic axis, this conserved radial array of cell types shows longitudinal variations to enhance the tuning properties of basilar membrane. We present the current evidence supporting the hypothesis that quantitative local variations in gene expression profiles are responsible for local cell responses to global gene manipulations. With the advent of next generation sequencing and the unprecedented array of technologies offering high throughput analyses at the single cell level, transcriptomics will become a common tool to enhance our understanding of the inner ear. We provide an overview of the approaches and landmark studies undertaken to date to analyze single cell variations in the organ of Corti and discuss the current limitations. We next provide an overview of the complexity of known regulatory mechanisms in the inner ear. These mechanisms are tightly regulated temporally and spatially at the transcription, RNA-splicing, mRNA-regulation and translation levels. Understanding the intricacies of regulatory mechanisms at play in the inner ear will require the use of complementary approaches, and most probably, a combinatorial strategy coupling transcriptomics, proteomics and epigenomics technologies. We highlight how these data, in conjunction with recent insights into molecular cell transformation, can advance attempts to restore lost hair cells.

Keywords: Hair Cells, Auditory, Cell type specificity, trasncriptomics, non-coding RNA, hair cell restoration

Received: 31 Jan 2018; Accepted: 13 Apr 2018.

Edited by:

Donna M. Martin, University of Michigan, United States

Reviewed by:

Hehuang Xie, Virginia Tech, United States
Jingying Zhou, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Kelvin Y. Kwan, Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Booth, Azaiez, Smith, Jahan and Fritzsch. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Bernd Fritzsch, University of Iowa, Department of Biology, Iowa City, 52242, United States, bernd-fritzsch@uiowa.edu