UCL Ear Institute



The functions of notch signalling during inner ear development and regeneration

Notch 1…

Notch signalling is one of the most important cell-to-cell communication pathways during inner ear development and regeneration. We are developing and using live-imaging and genetic tricks in chicken embryos to understand the functions of Notch in i) establishing the early/prosensory domains of the inner ear and ii) the regulation of hair cell versus supporting cell fate decisions.

Collaborators: J. Gale (Ear Institute), J. Stone (U. Seattle, USA), K. Steel (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), B. Alsina (U. Pompeu Fabra, Spain)

Transcriptional networks in the control of hair cell differentiation


We are using transcriptome analysis and functional approaches in vivo and in vitro to get new insights into the genetic networks regulated by Notch signalling during ear development. We are also interested in the specific roles of the SoxB and bHLH transcription factors in the control of hair cell formation and regeneration, and we are using this knowledge to improve the existing methods for hair cell generation via genetic reprogramming.

Collaborators: V. Plagnol (UCL); D. Henrique (University of Lisboa, Portugal)

Stereocilia formation and maintenance

Stereocilia 1…

Stereocilia are microvilli-like structures arranged into a neat bundle at the surface of each hair cell. When fluid movements occur in the liquid-filled compartments of the inner ear, stereocilia are displaced, triggering the release of neurotransmitters by hair cells. Mutations in genes encoding molecular components of stereocilia are frequently associated to hereditary forms of deafness. Our work has uncovered a specific function for an actin-bundling protein named Plastin1 (also known as Fimbrin) in the maintenance of auditory hair cell stereocilia, and we are also looking at the signalling pathways that regulate the assembly of the stereociliary bundles during embryonic development.

Collaborators: A. Bullen, A. Forge, R. Taylor (Ear Institute), F. Rivero (U. of Hull), S. Johnson, W. Marcotti (U. of Sheffield), M. Davey (University of Edinburgh)