Otoconial agenesis in tilted mutant mice

David M. Ornitz, Barbara A. Bohne, Isolde Thalmann, Gary W. Harding, Ruediger Thalmann

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75 Scopus citations


The sense of balance is one of the phylogenetically oldest sensory systems. The vestibular organs, consisting of sensory hair cells and an overlying extracellular membrane, have been conserved throughout vertebrate evolution. To better understand mechanisms regulating vestibular development and mechanisms of vestibular pathophysiology, we have analyzed the mouse mutant, tilted (tlt), which has dysfunction of the gravity receptors. The tilted mouse arose spontaneously and has not been previously analyzed for a developmental or physiological deficit. Here we demonstrate that the tilted mouse, like the head tilt (het) mouse, specifically lacks otoconia and consequently does not sense spatial orientation relative to the force of gravity. Unlike other mouse mutations affecting the vestibular system (such as pallid, mocha and tilted head), the defect in the tilted mouse is highly penetrant, results in the nearly complete absence of otoconia, exhibits no degeneration of the sensory epithelium and has no apparent abnormal phenotype in other organ systems. We further demonstrate that protein expression in the macular sensory epithelium is qualitatively unaltered in tilted mutant mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
JournalHearing research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Gravity receptor
  • Mouse mutant
  • Otoconia
  • Vestibular histopathology


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