Deflecting biomineralized crystals attached to vestibular hair cells are necessary for maintaining balance. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are useful organisms to study these biomineralized crystals called otoliths, as many required genes are homologous to human otoconial development. We sought to identify and characterize the causative gene in a trio of homozygous recessive mutants, no content (nco) and corkscrew (csr), and vanished (vns), which fail to develop otoliths during early ear development. We show that nco, csr, and vns have potentially deleterious mutations in polyketide synthase (pks1), a multi-modular protein that has been previously implicated in biomineralization events in chordates and echinoderms. We found that Otoconin-90 (Oc90) expression within the otocyst is diffuse in nco and csr; therefore, it is not sufficient for otolith biomineralization in zebrafish. Similarly, normal localization of Otogelin, a protein required for otolith tethering in the otolithic membrane, is not sufficient for Oc90 attachment. Furthermore, eNOS signaling and Endothelin-1 signaling were the most up- and down-regulated pathways during otolith agenesis in nco, respectively. Our results demonstrate distinct processes for otolith nucleation and biomineralization in vertebrates and will be a starting point for models that are independent of Oc90-mediated seeding. This study will serve as a basis for investigating the role of eNOS signaling and Endothelin-1 signaling during otolith formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology