The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 51: 473 - 481 (2007)

Vol 51, Issue 6-7

Special Issue: Ear Development

Expression and functions of FGF ligands during early otic development

Published: 1 September 2007

Thomas Schimmang*

Institute for Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Valladolid and Spanish Research Council (CSIC), Valladolid, Spain


Classical studies have postulated the action of an endomesodermal signal initiating inner ear induction, subsequently followed by a neural tube-derived signal to complete the process of otic placode formation in the surface ectoderm. Members of the Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) gene family have been implicated in these processes. In this review, expression analysis and recent experimental evidence for candidate inner ear FGF ligands during inner ear induction is discussed. Careful examination of the spatiotemporal expression patterns of different FGFs during inner ear induction reveals that the sequential appearance of FGF members in the endoderm and/or mesoderm is followed by expression in the posterior hindbrain in all vertebrate species analysed to date. Experimental manipulations have demonstrated the sufficiency and/or necessity of some FGFs during different steps of inner ear induction in vitro and in vivo. Combining the advantages of the molecular tools and approaches available in different experimental systems such as zebrafish, chicken or mouse will eventually lead to a complete understanding of how FGFs control inner ear induction in vertebrates.


inner ear, otic placode, fibroblast growth factor, otic induction

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