Spatial and temporal expression of PORCN is highly dynamic in the developing mouse cochlea.
Gene expression patterns : GEP
Gene Expr Patterns 2021 Sep 20; 42:119214
DC016376, Jackson Laboratory start-up funds
The mammalian organ of Corti is a highly specialized sensory organ of the cochlea with a fine-grained pattern that is essential for auditory function. The sensory epithelium, the organ of Corti consists of a single row of inner hair cells and three rows of outer hair cells that are intercalated by support cells in a mosaic pattern. Previous studies show that the Wnt pathway regulates proliferation, promotes medial compartment formation in the cochlea, differentiation of the mechanosensory hair cells and axon guidance of Type II afferent neurons. WNT ligand expressions are highly dynamic throughout development but are insufficient to explain the roles of the Wnt pathway. We address a potential way for how WNTs specify the medial compartment by characterizing the expression of Porcupine (PORCN), an O-acyltransferase that is required for WNT secretion. We show PORCN expression across embryonic ages (E)12.5 - E14.5, E16.5, and postnatal day (P)1. Our results showed enriched PORCN in the medial domains during early stages of development, indicating that WNTs have a stronger influence on patterning of the medial compartment. PORCN was rapidly downregulated after E14.5, following the onset of sensory cell differentiation; residual expression remained in some hair cells and supporting cells. On E14.5 and E16.5, we also examined the spatial expression of Gsk3β, an inhibitor of canonical Wnt signaling to determine its potential role in radial patterning of the cochlea. Gsk3β was broadly expressed across the radial axis of the epithelium; therefore, unlikely to control WNT-mediated medial specification. In conclusion, the spatial expression of PORCN enriches WNT secretion from the medial domains of the cochlea to influence the specification of cell fates in the medial sensory domain.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the Microscopy Core at The Jackson Laboratory to generate the work described in this publication. The authors also thank Dr. Holly Beaulac in the Munnamalai lab for critical reading of this manuscript.