Smad4 is the central intracellular mediator of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling, which plays crucial roles in tissue regeneration, cell differentiation, embryonic development, and regulation of the immune system. Conventional Smad4 gene knockout results in embryonic lethality, precluding its use in studies of the role of Smad4 in inner ear development. We used chondrocyte-specific Smad4 knockout mice (Smad4Co/Co) to investigate the function of Smad4 in inner ear development. Smad4 Co/Co mice were characterized by a smaller cochlear volume, bone malformation, and abnormalities of the osseous spiral lamina and basilar membrane. The development of the hair cells was also abnormal, as evidenced by the disorganized stereocilia and reduced density of the neuronal processes beneath the hair cells. Auditory function tests revealed the homozygous Smad4Co/Co mice suffered from severe sensorineural hearing loss. Our results suggest that Smad4 is required for inner ear development and normal auditory function in mammals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology