Shaping sound in space: the regulation of inner ear patterning

Development. 2012 Jan;139(2):245-57. doi: 10.1242/dev.067074.


The inner ear is one of the most morphologically elaborate tissues in vertebrates, containing a group of mechanosensitive sensory organs that mediate hearing and balance. These organs are arranged precisely in space and contain intricately patterned sensory epithelia. Here, we review recent studies of inner ear development and patterning which reveal that multiple stages of ear development - ranging from its early induction from the embryonic ectoderm to the establishment of the three cardinal axes and the fine-grained arrangement of sensory cells - are orchestrated by gradients of signaling molecules.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 / metabolism
  • Ear, Inner / anatomy & histology*
  • Ear, Inner / embryology*
  • Ectoderm / physiology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Hedgehog Proteins / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Vertebrates*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism


  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors