Dynamic gene expression by putative hair-cell progenitors during regeneration in the zebrafish lateral line
Hearing impairment is most frequently caused by the loss of sensory hair cells in the cochlea. One potential means of alleviating hearing loss is to restore these cells, which do not naturally regenerate in mammals. The zebrafish lateral line serves as a useful model for studying hair-cell regeneration because in this system there exist progenitors, mantle cells, from which hair-cell precursors originate. We have produced zebrafish with fluorescently labeled mantle cells, isolated those cells by flow cytometry, and analyzed the transcripts that they express. We have also defined the temporal window during which mantle cells respond to hair-cell death. This approach has identified genes representing unexpected signaling pathways that may contribute to the development of treatments for hearing loss.