Modeling human early otic sensory cell development with induced pluripotent stem cells


  • Lahlou Hanae
  • Lopez-Juarez Alejandra
  • Fontbonne Arnaud
  • Nivet Emmanuel
  • Zine Azel


  • Notch signaling
  • Gene expression
  • Stem cells
  • Inner ear
  • Fibroblast growth factor
  • Pluripotency
  • Paired box
  • Cell differentiation


The inner ear represents a promising system to develop cell-based therapies from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). In the developing ear, Notch signaling plays multiple roles in otic region specification and for cell fate determination. Optimizing hiPSC induction for the generation of appropriate numbers of otic progenitors and derivatives, such as hair cells, may provide an unlimited supply of cells for research and cell-based therapy. In this study, we used monolayer cultures, otic-inducing agents, Notch modulation, and marker expression to track early and otic sensory lineages during hiPSC differentiation. Otic/placo-dal progenitors were derived from hiPSC cultures in medium supplemented with FGF3/ FGF10 for 13 days. These progenitor cells were then treated for 7 days with retinoic acid (RA) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) or a Notch inhibitor. The differentiated cultures were analyzed in parallel by qPCR and immunocytochemistry. After the 13 day induction, hiPSC-derived cells displayed an upregulated expression of a panel of otic/placodal markers. Strikingly, a subset of these induced progenitor cells displayed key-otic sensory markers , the percentage of which was increased in cultures under Notch inhibition as compared to RA/EGF-treated cultures. Our results show that modulating Notch pathway during in vitro differentiation of hiPSC-derived otic/placodal progenitors is a valuable strategy to promote the expression of human otic sensory lineage genes.

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