Getting an Earful

Science's STKE  12 Dec 2000:
Vol. 2000, Issue 62, pp. tw5
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2000.62.tw5

Classical embryological experiments suggested that the vertebrate inner ear is initially specified by signals both from mesoderm and neuroectoderm. Ladher et al. have now identified some of the molecular signals involved in the chick. A new variant of the FGF family, FGF-19, is responsible for signaling from the mesoderm to promote development of the otic placode, which becomes the inner ear. FGF-19 is present in the right place for only a brief period of time--just long enough to set up the next steps, such as activating Wnt-8c signaling from the neuroectoderm. Together, these signals direct formation of the otic placode and induce appropriate expression of a variety of ear-specific genes. Graham provides an accompanying perspective on the work.

Ladher, R.K., Anakwe, K.U., Gurney, A.L., Schoenwolf, G.C., and Francis-West, P.H. (2000) Identification of synergistic signals initiating inner ear development. Science 290: 1965-1967. [Abstract] [Full Text]

Graham, A. (2000) Hear, hear, for the inner ear. Science 290: 1904-1905. [Full Text]