Development

Growth factors shift jobs

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Science  01 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6426, pp. 495-496
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6426.495-b

The structures of the inner ear develop in response to serial signaling by growth factors.

IMAGE: MEDICALRF/SCIENCE SOURCE

The human inner ear, required for hearing and balance, begins development as a thickening on the cranial ectoderm called a placode. The placode expresses fibroblast growth factors 3 and 10 (FGF3 and FGF10). Urness et al. used gene ablation and a ligand trap in mice to knock out FGF3 and FGF10 function after formation of the otic placode but before morphogenesis into complex structures. As the placode develops, it produces its own FGFs, which direct elaboration of the diverse shapes and cell types required by this sensory system. Analysis of genes expressed differentially in response to FGF signaling identified both known and potentially new genetic drivers of deafness and indicates that FGF signaling keeps some genes silent until the right moment in the developmental program.

Development 145, dev170142 (2018).

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