Assembling a functional tympanic membrane: Signals from the external acoustic meatus coordinate development of the malleal manubrium

M. Mallo, H. Schrewe, J. F. Martin, E. N. Olson, S. Ohnemus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations


In terrestrial mammals, hearing starts with the perception of acoustic pressure by the tympanic membrane. Vibrations in this membrane are then transduced into the inner ear by the ossicle chain of the middle ear, composed of the malleus, incus and stapes. The proper connection of the ossicle chain with the tympanic membrane, provided by the insertion of the manubrium of the malleus into the eardrum, is essential for the functionality of the hearing apparatus. We describe here the mechanisms regulating the development of the manubrium and its integration into the tympanic membrane. We show that the external acoustic meatus (EAM), which eventually forms the outer epithelium of the tympanic membrane, plays an essential role in this developmental process. Histological and expression analyses indicate that the manubrium develops close to the EAM with a similar temporal sequence. In addition, when the middle ear ossicles are allowed to develop in vitro under conditions that do not support further EAM development, the manubrium develops only up to the stage of its induction at the time of explantation. Moreover, genetically or teratogenically derived alterations in the EAM also have an effect on manubrial development. Finally, we show that the EAM is the source of two quite opposite activities, one that induces chondrogenesis and another that represses it. The combination of these two activities results in the proper positioning of the manubrium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4127-4136
Number of pages10
Issue number19
StatePublished - Nov 23 2000



  • Middle ear
  • Mouse
  • Prxl
  • Sox9
  • Tympanic membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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