Differential expression of alpha 3 and alpha 6 integrins in the developing mouse inner ear

J Comp Neurol. 2002 Apr 1;445(2):122-32. doi: 10.1002/cne.10161.


The development of the mammalian inner ear involves a complex series of cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. These interactions are likely to be mediated by families of adhesion molecules, including the integrins. We have studied the expression of three integrin subunits known to be expressed on epithelia in a number of tissues (namely, alpha3, alpha6, and beta4) during the development of the murine inner ear. At E10.5, both alpha3 and alpha6 were expressed in the epithelial layers of the otocyst. The expression of alpha6 was concentrated in an anterioventral region of the epithelium and in a proportion of the cells forming the cochlear-vestibular and facial ganglia. By E12.5, alpha6 showed a more restricted expression, confined mainly to the pro-sensory epithelia and the neural processes from the cochlear-vestibular ganglion. In contrast, alpha3 was expressed in epithelia adjacent to the pro-sensory areas. This reciprocal expression pattern was maintained until birth. Between birth and P6, a switch in expression occurred such that alpha3 was upregulated and alpha6 was downregulated in the sensory epithelia of both the auditory and vestibular systems. At this stage, alpha3 was expressed in all the epithelia lining the scala media, thus defining the endolymph compartment. The expression of beta4 was restricted to epithelial/mesenchymal borders throughout the developmental stages studied, suggesting that alpha6 expression observed within the epithelium and neuronal tissue was alpha6beta1. The early expression and changing pattern of alpha3 and alpha6 integrins during development of the mammalian inner ear suggests that they may be involved in the molecular processes that define epithelial boundaries and guide sensory innervation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / embryology
  • Animals, Newborn / genetics
  • Animals, Newborn / metabolism*
  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Ear, Inner / embryology*
  • Ear, Inner / growth & development
  • Ear, Inner / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Integrin alpha3
  • Integrin alpha6
  • Integrins / biosynthesis*
  • Integrins / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy


  • Antigens, CD
  • Integrin alpha3
  • Integrin alpha6
  • Integrins