Scanning thin-sheet laser imaging microscopy elucidates details on mouse ear development

Benjamin Kopecky, Shane Johnson, Heather Schmitz, Peter Santi, Bernd Fritzsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: The mammalian inner ear is transformed from a flat placode into a three-dimensional (3D) structure with six sensory epithelia that allow for the perception of sound and both linear and angular acceleration. While hearing and balance problems are typically considered to be adult onset diseases, they may arise as a developmental perturbation to the developing ear. Future prevention of hearing or balance loss requires an understanding of how closely genetic mutations in model organisms reflect the human case, necessitating an objective multidimensional comparison of mouse ears with human ears that have comparable mutations in the same gene. Results: Here, we present improved 3D analyses of normal murine ears during embryonic development using optical sections obtained through Thin-Sheet Laser Imaging Microscopy. We chronicle the transformation of an undifferentiated otic vesicle between mouse embryonic day 11.5 to a fully differentiated inner ear at postnatal day 15. Conclusions: Our analysis of ear development provides new insights into ear development, enables unique perspectives into the complex development of the ear, and allows for the first full quantification of volumetric and linear aspects of ear growth. Our data provide the framework for future analysis of mutant phenotypes that are currently under-appreciated using only two dimensional renderings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-480
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Cochlea
  • Development
  • Ear
  • Endolymph
  • Perilymph


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