[en] Jagged2 ; Math 1 ; organ of Corti ; cochlea ; rat ; tectal cell
[en] The organ of Corti is a complex structure containing a single row of inner hair cells (IHCs) and three rows of outer hair cells (OHCs), supported respectively by one row of inner phalangeal cells and three rows of Deiters' cells. When fetal rat organ of Corti explants are cultured, supernumerary OHCs and supernumerary Deiters' cells are produced, without any additional cell proliferation. Analysis of semi- and ultrathin sections revealed that supernumerary OHCs are produced at the distal edge of the organ of Corti. Quantitative analysis of cell types present in the organ of Corti demonstrates that when the number of OHCs increases: (i) the total number of cells remains constant; (ii) the number of Deiters' cells increases; (iii) the number of tectal cells decreases and of Hensen's cells decreases. Using specific HC markers, i.e. jagged2 (Jag2) and Math1, we showed that in addition to existing OHCs, supernumerary OHCs, tectal cells and Hensen's cells expressed these markers in embryonic day 19 organ of Corti explants after 5 days in vitro. The results of this study suggest that Hensen's cells retain the capacity to differentiate into either tectal cells, which differentiate into OHCs, or into undertectal cells which differentiate into Deiters' cells.