Scientists identify transcription factors essential for hearing

Scientists identify transcription factors essential for hearing

Sensorineural hearing loss is a common and currently irreversible disorder, because mammalian hair cells (HCs) do not regenerate and current stem cell and gene delivery protocols result only in immature HC-like cells.

Importantly, although the transcriptional regulators of embryonic HC development have been described, little is known about the postnatal regulators of maturating HCs.

Authors apply a cell type-specific functional genomic analysis to the transcriptomes of auditory and vestibular sensory epithelia from early postnatal mice.

They identify RFX transcription factors as essential and evolutionarily conserved regulators of the HC-specific transcriptomes, and detect Rfx1,2,3,5 and 7 in the developing HCs.

To understand the role of RFX in hearing, authors generate Rfx1/3 conditional knockout mice.

They show that these mice are deaf secondary to rapid loss of initially well-formed outer HCs.

These data identify an essential role for RFX in hearing and survival of the terminally differentiating outer HCs.