Background: Auditory and vestibular disorders are prevalent sensory disabilities caused by genetic and environmental (noise, trauma, chemicals) factors that often damage mechanosensory hair cells of the inner ear. Development of treatments for inner ear disorders of hearing and balance relies on the use of animal models such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and non-human mammals. Here, we aimed to augment the utility of the genus Xenopus for uncovering genetic mechanisms essential for the maintenance of inner ear structure and function.
Results: Using Affymetrix GeneChip(®) X. laevis Genome 2.0 Arrays and Illumina-Solexa sequencing methods, we determined that the transcriptional profile of the Xenopus laevis inner ear comprises hundreds of genes that are orthologous to OMIM(®) genes implicated in deafness and vestibular disorders in humans. Analysis of genes that mapped to both technologies demonstrated that, with our methods, a combination of microarray and RNA-Seq detected expression of more genes than either platform alone.
Conclusions: As part of this study we identified candidate scaffold regions of the Xenopus tropicalis genome that can be used to investigate hearing and balance using genetic and informatics procedures that are available through the National Xenopus Resource (NXR), and the open access data repository, Xenbase. The results and approaches presented here expand the viability of Xenopus as an animal model for inner ear research.