Math1: An Essential Gene for the Generation of Inner Ear Hair Cells

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Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1837-1841
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1837

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The mammalian inner ear contains the cochlea and vestibular organs, which are responsible for hearing and balance, respectively. The epithelia of these sensory organs contain hair cells that function as mechanoreceptors to transduce sound and head motion. The molecular mechanisms underlying hair cell development and differentiation are poorly understood. Math1, a mouse homolog of theDrosophila proneural gene atonal, is expressed in inner ear sensory epithelia. Embryonic Math1-null mice failed to generate cochlear and vestibular hair cells. This gene is thus required for the genesis of hair cells.

  • * Present address: Department of Cell and Animal Biology, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat-Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: hzoghbi{at}

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