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Single-Cell Transcriptomic Atlas of Mouse Cochlea to Aid Treatment Development

Institut Pasteur researchers have generated a single-cell transcriptomic atlas of the mouse cochlea, which they say will inform efforts to develop new treatments for hearing loss, particularly cochlear gene and cell therapies. To generate their atlas, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers conducted single-cell and single-nuclear sequencing of about 120,000 cells at three key timepoints in cochlear development: before hearing onset, at hearing onset, and at cochlear maturation. By folding in in situ RNA hybridization assay data, they further uncovered transcriptomic signatures for nearly all cochlear cell types and generated cell type-specific markers, including for three previously undescribed cochlear cell types, one of which they named cala vestibuli border cells. The team further reports that a number of hearing loss-linked genes are expressed in additional cochlear cell types than expected. "This atlas will be particularly useful for identifying overlooked candidate cochlear cells affected by particular deficits in some monogenic forms of deafness," the Institut Pasteur team writes. "It will be also instrumental to deciphering the signaling pathways and gene regulatory sequences and networks present in cochlear cells, for the development of effective and safe gene therapy procedures."