Priority Research Paper Volume 12, Issue 20 pp 19834—19851

Knockdown of Foxg1 in Sox9+ supporting cells increases the trans-differentiation of supporting cells into hair cells in the neonatal mouse utricle

Yuan Zhang1, *, , Shasha Zhang1, *, , Zhonghong Zhang5, *, , Ying Dong1, , Xiangyu Ma1, , Ruiying Qiang1, , Yin Chen6, , Xia Gao6, , Chunjie Zhao1, , Fangyi Chen7, , Shuangba He8, , Renjie Chai1,2,3,4, ,

  • 1 MOE Key Laboratory for Developmental Genes and Human Disease, School of Life Sciences and Technology, Jiangsu Province High-Tech Key Laboratory for Bio-Medical Research, Southeast University, Nanjing, China
  • 2 Co-Innovation Center of Neuroregeneration, Nantong University, Nantong, China
  • 3 Institute for Stem Cell and Regeneration, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China
  • 4 Beijing Key Laboratory of Neural Regeneration and Repair, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
  • 5 Department of Ophthalmology, Zhongda Hospital, Southeast University, Nanjing, China
  • 6 Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Jiangsu Provincial Key Medical Discipline (Laboratory), Nanjing, China
  • 7 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China
  • 8 Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck, Nanjing Tongren Hospital, School of Medicine, Southeast University, China
* Equal contribution

Received: June 30, 2020       Accepted: August 15, 2020       Published: October 24, 2020
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2020 Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Foxg1 plays important roles in regeneration of hair cell (HC) in the cochlea of neonatal mouse. Here, we used Sox9-CreER to knock down Foxg1 in supporting cells (SCs) in the utricle in order to investigate the role of Foxg1 in HC regeneration in the utricle. We found Sox9 an ideal marker of utricle SCs and bred Sox9CreER/+Foxg1loxp/loxp mice to conditionally knock down Foxg1 in utricular SCs. Conditional knockdown (cKD) of Foxg1 in SCs at postnatal day one (P01) led to increased number of HCs at P08. These regenerated HCs had normal characteristics, and could survive to at least P30. Lineage tracing showed that a significant portion of newly regenerated HCs originated from SCs in Foxg1 cKD mice compared to the mice subjected to the same treatment, which suggested SCs trans-differentiate into HCs in the Foxg1 cKD mouse utricle. After neomycin treatment in vitro, more HCs were observed in Foxg1 cKD mice utricle compared to the control group. Together, these results suggest that Foxg1 cKD in utricular SCs may promote HC regeneration by inducing trans-differentiation of SCs. This research therefore provides theoretical basis for the effects of Foxg1 in trans-differentiation of SCs and regeneration of HCs in the mouse utricle.


Sox9: Sex determining region Y-box 9; Plp: proteolipid protein 1; Sox2: Sex determining region Y-box 2; Foxg1: Forkhead box G1; P: postnatal day; HCs: hair cells; SCs: supporting cells; Myo7a: myosin VII A; RT-PCR: reverse transcription PCR; qPCR: real time quantitative PCR; i.p.: intraperitoneally; DIV.: day in vitro; Neo.: neomycin; SEM: standard errors of the means; RT: room temperature; WT: wildtype; MUT: mutant.