The auditory and vestibular sensory organs of the inner ear are separated by non-sensory territories, forming a series of canals and constrictions essential for ear function. We are studying how these territories are specified and positioned during inner ear development.
The sensory epithelia of the inner ear are composed of a mosaic of hair cells, interspaced by supporting cells. We are studying how these two cell types are produced during development, and the mechanisms controlling their patterning.
Stereocilia are microvilli-like structures arranged into a neat bundle at the surface of each hair cell. We have shown that one gene encoding an actin-bundling protein, Plastin1, is essential for their maintenance - and therefore hearing.