Regulation of cell fate in the sensory epithelia of the inner ear

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006 Nov;7(11):837-49. doi: 10.1038/nrn1987.


The sensory epithelia of the inner ear contain mechanosensory hair cells and non-sensory supporting cells. Both classes of cell are heterogeneous, with phenotypes varying both between and within epithelia. The specification of individual cells as distinct types of hair cell or supporting cell is regulated through intra- and extracellular signalling pathways that have been poorly understood. However, new methodologies have resulted in significant steps forward in our understanding of the molecular pathways that direct cells towards these cell fates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Lineage / physiology*
  • Ear, Inner / cytology
  • Ear, Inner / embryology*
  • Ear, Inner / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / cytology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / embryology*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Labyrinth Supporting Cells / cytology*
  • Labyrinth Supporting Cells / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins