Nectins Establish a Checkerboard-like Cellular Pattern in the Auditory Epithelium

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Science  28 Jul 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1208467


In the auditory epithelium of the cochlea, the sensory hair cells and supporting cells are arranged in a checkerboard-like fashion, but the mechanism underlying this cellular patterning is unclear. Here, we found that mouse hair cells and supporting cells express the immunoglobulin-like adhesion molecules nectin-1 and -3, respectively, and that their interaction mediates the heterotypic adhesion between these two cell types. Genetic removal of nectin-1 or -3 disrupted the checkerboard pattern, inducing aberrant attachment between hair cells. When cells expressing either nectin-1 or -3 were co-cultured, they arranged themselves into a mosaic pattern. Thus, nectin-1 and -3 promote the checkerboard patterning of auditory epithelia.