The inner ear epithelium, with its complex array of sensory, non-sensory, and neuronal cell types necessary for hearing and balance, is derived from a thickened patch of head ectoderm called the otic placode. Mouse embryos lacking both Fgf3 and Fgf10 fail to initiate inner ear development because appropriate patterns of gene expression fail to be specified within the pre-otic field. To understand the transcriptional "blueprint" initiating inner ear development, we used microarray analysis to identify prospective placode genes that were differentially expressed in control and Fgf3 -/- ;Fgf10 -/- embryos. Several genes in the down-regulated class, including Hmx3, Hmx2, Foxg1, Sox9, Has2, and Slc26a9 were validated by in situ hybridization. We also assayed candidate target genes suggested by other studies of otic induction. Two placode markers, Fgf4 and Foxi3, were down-regulated in Fgf3 -/- Fgf10 -/- embryos, whereas Foxi2, a cranial epidermis marker, was expanded in double mutants, similar to its behavior when WNT responses are blocked in the otic placode. Assays of hindbrain Wnt genes revealed that only Wnt8a was reduced or absent in FGF-deficient embryos, and that even some Fgf3 -/- ;Fgf10 -/+ and Fgf3 -/- embryos failed to express Wnt8a, suggesting a key role for Fgf3, and a secondary role for Fgf10, in Wnt8a expression. Chick explant assays showed that FGF3 or FGF4, but not FGF10, were sufficient to induce Wnt8a. Collectively, our results suggest that Wnt8a provides the link between FGF-induced formation of the pre-otic field and restriction of the otic placode to ectoderm adjacent to the hindbrain. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
Urness, L. D., Paxton, C. N., Wang, X., Schoenwolf, G. C., & Mansour, S. L. (2010). FGF signaling regulates otic placode induction and refinement by controlling both ectodermal target genes and hindbrain Wnt8a. Developmental Biology, 340(2), 595–604. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.02.016