Tsukushi is essential for the formation of the posterior semicircular canal that detects gait performance

J Cell Commun Signal. 2021 Dec;15(4):581-594. doi: 10.1007/s12079-021-00627-1. Epub 2021 Jun 1.


Tsukushi is a small, leucine-rich repeat proteoglycan that interacts with and regulates essential cellular signaling cascades in the chick retina and murine subventricular zone, hippocampus, dermal hair follicles, and the cochlea. However, its function in the vestibules of the inner ear remains unknown. Here, we investigated the function of Tsukushi in the vestibules and found that Tsukushi deficiency in mice resulted in defects in posterior semicircular canal formation in the vestibules, but did not lead to vestibular hair cell loss. Furthermore, Tsukushi accumulated in the non-prosensory and prosensory regions during the embryonic and postnatal developmental stages. The downregulation of Tsukushi altered the expression of key genes driving vestibule differentiation in the non-prosensory regions. Our results indicate that Tsukushi interacts with Wnt2b, bone morphogenetic protein 4, fibroblast growth factor 10, and netrin 1, thereby controlling semicircular canal formation. Therefore, Tsukushi may be an essential component of the molecular pathways regulating vestibular development.

Keywords: Bmp4; FGF10; Posterior semicircular canal; Tsukushi; Vestibule; Wnt2b.