Development of hair cell phenotype and calyx nerve terminals in the neonatal mouse utricle

Mark E. Warchol, Roxanna Massoodnia, Remy Pujol, Brandon C. Cox, Jennifer S. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The vestibular organs of reptiles, birds, and mammals possess Type I and Type II sensory hair cells, which have distinct morphologies, physiology, and innervation. Little is known about how vestibular hair cells adopt a Type I or Type II identity or acquire proper innervation. One distinguishing marker is the transcription factor Sox2, which is expressed in all developing hair cells but persists only in Type II hair cells in maturity. We examined Sox2 expression and formation of afferent nerve terminals in mouse utricles between postnatal days 0 (P0) and P17. Between P3 and P14, many hair cells lost Sox2 immunoreactivity and the density of calyceal afferent nerve terminals (specific to Type I hair cells) increased in all regions of the utricle. At early time points, many calyces enclosed Sox2-labeled hair cells, while some Sox2-negative hair cells within the striola had not yet developed a calyx. These observations indicate that calyx maturation is not temporally correlated with loss of Sox2 expression in Type I hair cells. To determine which type(s) of hair cells are formed postnatally, we fate-mapped neonatal supporting cells by injecting Plp-CreERT2:Rosa26tdTomato mice with tamoxifen at P2 and P3. At P9, tdTomato-positive hair cells were immature and not classifiable by type. At P30, tdTomato-positive hair cells increased 1.8-fold compared to P9, and 91% of tdTomato-labeled hair cells were Type II. Our findings show that most neonatally-derived hair cells become Type II, and many Type I hair cells (formed before P2) downregulate Sox2 and acquire calyces between P0 and P14.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1913-1928
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • RRID AB_10015251
  • RRID AB_177520
  • RRID AB_2286684
  • RRID AB_2721321
  • RRID AB_531793
  • Sox2
  • afferent
  • calyx
  • hair cell
  • type I
  • type II
  • vestibular


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