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Matching Sox

Molecular mechanisms underlying zebrafish hearing hair cell regeneration revealed

10 October 2022

Matching Sox

After a lifetime of exposure to noise, or perhaps sudden trauma – losing our auditory hair cells leads to hearing loss that is, for the moment, permanent. But not so for zebrafish (Danio rerio). Free to attend as many loud gigs as they want, their auditory hair cells (highlighted in green here) replenish after injury. We share 70% of our genes with zebrafish, so scientists delve into the fish’s genetics to look for useful clues. Sound waggles auditory hair cells – a mechanical response that helps to send electrical impulses towards the brain, or breaks them. When the fish’s hair cells break, surrounding ‘support’ cells reprogram into new ones. To do this, researchers find they change which genes are switched off and on – using transcription factor proteins called Sox and Six. Humans have their own versions, so the next question is how to guide their behaviour to encourage cell regeneration.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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