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The inner ear, projections, and brainstem nuclei are essential components of the auditory and vestibular systems. It is believed that the evolution of complex systems depends on duplicated sets of genes. The contribution of duplicated genes to auditory or vestibular system development, however, is poorly understood. We describe that Lmx1a and Lmx1b, which originate from the invertebrate Lmx1b-like gene, redundantly regulate development of multiple essential components of the mammalian auditory/vestibular systems. Combined, but not individual, loss of Lmx1a/b eliminated the auditory inner ear organ of Corti (OC) and disrupted the spiral ganglion, which was preceded by a diminished expression of their critical regulator Pax2. Innervation of the remaining inner ear vestibular organs revealed unusual sizes or shapes and was more affected compared to Lmx1a/b single-gene mutants. Individual loss of Lmx1a/b genes did not disrupt brainstem auditory nuclei or inner ear central projections. Combined loss of Lmx1a/b, however, eliminated excitatory neurons in cochlear/vestibular nuclei, and also the expression of a master regulator Atoh1 in their progenitors in the lower rhombic lip (RL). Finally, in Lmx1a/b double mutants, vestibular afferents aberrantly projected to the roof plate. This phenotype was associated with altered expression of Wnt3a, a secreted ligand of the Wnt pathway that regulates pathfinding of inner ear projections. Thus, Lmx1a/b are redundantly required for the development of the mammalian inner ear, inner ear central projections, and cochlear/vestibular nuclei. Copyright © 2020 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Victor V Chizhikov, Igor Y Iskusnykh, Nikolai Fattakhov, Bernd Fritzsch. Lmx1a and Lmx1b are Redundantly Required for the Development of Multiple Components of the Mammalian Auditory System. Neuroscience. 2021 Jan 01;452:247-264

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PMID: 33246067

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