Fgf8 genetic labeling reveals the early specification of vestibular hair cell type in mouse utricle

Development. 2020 Nov 19;147(22):dev192849. doi: 10.1242/dev.192849.


FGF8 signaling plays diverse roles in inner ear development, acting at multiple stages from otic placode induction to cellular differentiation in the organ of Corti. As a secreted morphogen with diverse functions, Fgf8 expression is likely to be spatially restricted and temporally dynamic throughout inner ear development. We evaluated these characteristics using genetic labeling mediated by Fgf8mcm gene-targeted mice and determined that Fgf8 expression is a specific and early marker of Type-I vestibular hair cell identity. Fgf8mcm expression initiates at E11.5 in the future striolar region of the utricle, labeling hair cells following EdU birthdating, and demonstrates that sub-type identity is determined shortly after terminal mitosis. This early fate specification is not apparent using markers or morphological criteria that are not present before birth in the mouse. Although analyses of Fgf8 conditional knockout mice did not reveal developmental phenotypes, the restricted pattern of Fgf8 expression suggests that functionally redundant FGF ligands may contribute to vestibular hair cell differentiation and supports a developmental model in which Type-I and Type-II hair cells develop in parallel rather than from an intermediate precursor.

Keywords: Cre recombinase; FGF8; Hair cell; Inner ear; Mouse; Vestibular.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 8 / genetics
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 8 / metabolism*
  • Hair Cells, Vestibular / cytology
  • Hair Cells, Vestibular / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Saccule and Utricle / cytology
  • Saccule and Utricle / embryology*


  • Fgf8 protein, mouse
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 8