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Targeted deletion of Sox10 by Wnt1-cre defects neuronal migration and projection in the mouse inner ear.


PMID 24718611

Abstract

Sensory nerves of the brainstem are mostly composed of placode-derived neurons, neural crest-derived neurons and neural crest-derived Schwann cells. This mixed origin of cells has made it difficult to dissect interdependence for fiber guidance. Inner ear-derived neurons are known to connect to the brain after delayed loss of Schwann cells in ErbB2 mutants. However, the ErbB2 mutant related alterations in the ear and the brain compound interpretation of the data. We present here a new model to evaluate exclusively the effect of Schwann cell loss on inner ear innervation. Conditional deletion of the neural crest specific transcription factor, Sox10, using the rhombic lip/neural crest specific Wnt1-cre driver spares Sox10 expression in the ear. We confirm that neural crest-derived cells provide a stop signal for migrating spiral ganglion neurons. In the absence of Schwann cells, spiral ganglion neurons migrate into the center of the cochlea and even out of the ear toward the brain. Spiral ganglion neuron afferent processes reach the organ of Corti, but many afferent fibers bypass the organ of Corti to enter the lateral wall of the cochlea. In contrast to this peripheral disorganization, the central projection to cochlear nuclei is normal. Compared to ErbB2 mutants, conditional Sox10 mutants have limited cell death in spiral ganglion neurons, indicating that the absence of Schwann cells alone contributes little to the embryonic survival of neurons. These data suggest that neural crest-derived cells are dispensable for all central and some peripheral targeting of inner ear neurons. However, Schwann cells provide a stop signal for migratory spiral ganglion neurons and facilitate proper targeting of the organ of Corti by spiral ganglion afferents.

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