We have investigated the expression of FGF10 during ear development and the effect of an FGF10 null mutation on ear development. Our in situ hybridization data reveal expression of FGF10 in all three canal crista sensory epithelia and the cochlea anlage as well as all sensory neurons at embryonic day 11.5 (E11.5). Older embryos (E18.5) displayed strong graded expression in all sensory epithelia. FGF10 null mutants show complete agenesis of the posterior canal crista and the posterior canal. The posterior canal sensory neurons form initially and project rather normally by E11.5, but they disappear within 2 days. FGF10 null mutants have no posterior canal system at E18.5. In addition, these mutants have deformations of the anterior and horizontal cristae, reduced formation of the anterior and horizontal canals, as well as altered position of the remaining sensory epithelia with respect to the utricle. Hair cells form but some have defects in their cilia formation. No defects were detected in the organ of Corti at the cellular level. Together these data suggest that FGF10 plays a major role in ear morphogenesis. Most of these data are consistent with earlier findings on a null mutation in FGFR2b, one of FGF10's main receptors.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.