Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, Volume 138, Issue 3, pp 477–488 | Cite as

Evidence for a partial epithelial–mesenchymal transition in postnatal stages of rat auditory organ morphogenesis

  • Nicolas JohnenEmail author
  • Marie-Emilie Francart
  • Nicolas Thelen
  • Marie Cloes
  • Marc Thiry
Original Paper


The epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a crucial role in the differentiation of many tissues and organs. So far, an EMT was not detected in the development of the auditory organ. To determine whether an EMT may play a role in the morphogenesis of the auditory organ, we studied the spatial localization of several EMT markers, the cell–cell adhesion molecules and intermediate filament cytoskeletal proteins, in epithelium of the dorsal cochlea during development of the rat Corti organ from E18 (18th embryonic day) until P25 (25th postnatal day). We examined by confocal microscopy immunolabelings on cryosections of whole cochleae with antibodies anti-cytokeratins as well as with antibodies anti-vimentin, anti-E-cadherin and anti-β-catenin. Our results showed a partial loss of E-cadherin and β-catenin and a temporary appearance of vimentin in pillar cells and Deiters between P8 and P10. These observations suggest that a partial EMT might be involved in the remodelling of the Corti organ during the postnatal stages of development in rat.


EMT Cytoskeleton Organ of Corti Development 



The authors thank Mrs. Patricia Piscicelli for her skilful technical assistance. They would like also to thank Sandra Ormenese (GIGA-Imaging and Flow Cytometry, University of Liège) and Dr Pierre Leprince (Western blots, University of Liège) for their technical supports. This work was supported by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique and the Recherche dans l’Industrie et dans l’Agriculture.

Supplementary material

418_2012_969_MOESM1_ESM.png (48 kb)
Fig. S1 Western blots showing the vimentin (lane 1), cytokeratin 8 (lane 2), E-cadherin (lane 3), β-catenin (lane 4), upper panel, and β-actin (lanes 2–4), bottom panel, expression, in freshly isolated cochlea (lane 1), liver (lanes 2 and 3) and lung (lane 4) from rat. The results are in total agreement with previous data (Table S1) (PNG 47 kb)
418_2012_969_MOESM2_ESM.png (2.8 mb)
Fig. S2 Immunolocalization of different cytoskeletal proteins in the basal turn of the cochlear duct. aa′ Only the epithelial cells and not the mesenchymal cells are E-cadherin-positive (red) at P6. bb′ All the epithelial cells are β-catenin-positive (red) at P12. A β-catenin labelling is also observed in the mesenchymal cells of the basilar membrane. cc′ The vimentin labelling (green) is essentially present over the mesenchymal cells at P10. The sensory cells of the Corti organ are specifically detected with an anti-myosin VI antibody (red). dd′ Like E-cadherin, only the epithelial cells are CK8-positive (red) at P0. The cell nuclei are visualised with DAPI staining (blue). D(1–3) Deiters’ cells, Ip inner pillar cell, I inner hair cell, O(1–3) outer hair cell, Op outer pillar cell, RM Reissner membrane, SL spiral limbus, SV stria vascularis, TC tunnel of Corti, V spiral vessel. Bar 10 µm (PNG 2879 kb)
418_2012_969_MOESM3_ESM.doc (42 kb)
Table S1 Specifications of different primary antibodies used in the study. (1) Data shown in the manufacturer; (2) Osborn, Debus, et al. 1984; Eur J Cell Biol 34(1): 137–143; (3) Pagan, Sanchez, et al., 1999; Journal of Hepatology; 31: 895–904; (4) Zou, Yaoita, et al., Virchows Archiv : an international journal of pathology 448 (4): 485–492; (5) Harborth, Elbashir, et al., 2001. Journal of Cell Science 114, 4557–4565; (6) Yang, Ju, et al. 2011; J Cell Biochem 112: 2558–2565; (7) Kim, Daniels, et al. 1998; Exp Cell Res 245(1):79–90 (DOC 42 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas Johnen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie-Emilie Francart
    • 1
  • Nicolas Thelen
    • 1
  • Marie Cloes
    • 1
  • Marc Thiry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, GIGA-Neurosciences, Unit of Cell and Tissue BiologyUniversity of LiegeLiegeBelgium

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