The Hippo signaling pathway is a key regulator of tissue development and regeneration. Activation of the Hippo pathway leads to nuclear translocation of the YAP1 transcriptional coactivator, resulting in changes in gene expression and cell cycle entry. Recent studies have demonstrated the nuclear translocation of YAP1 during the development of the sensory organs of the inner ear, but the possible role of YAP1 in sensory regeneration of the inner ear is unclear. The present study characterized the cellular localization of YAP1 in the utricles of mice and chicks, both under normal conditions and after HC injury. During neonatal development, YAP1 expression was observed in the cytoplasm of supporting cells, and was transiently expressed in the cytoplasm of some differentiating hair cells. We also observed temporary nuclear translocation of YAP1 in supporting cells of the mouse utricle after short periods in organotypic culture. However, little or no nuclear translocation of YAP1 was observed in the utricles of neonatal or mature mice after ototoxic injury. In contrast, substantial YAP1 nuclear translocation was observed in the chicken utricle after streptomycin treatment in vitro and in vivo. Together, these data suggest that differences in YAP1 signaling may partially account for the differing regenerative abilities of the avian vs. mammalian inner ear.
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