Transcriptomic and epigenetic regulation of hair cell regeneration in the mouse utricle and its potentiation by Atoh1.Elife 2019; 8E
The mammalian cochlea loses its ability to regenerate new hair cells prior to the onset of hearing. In contrast, the adult vestibular system can produce new hair cells in response to damage, or by reprogramming of supporting cells with the hair cell transcription factor Atoh1. We used RNA-seq and ATAC-seq to probe the transcriptional and epigenetic responses of utricle supporting cells to damage and Atoh1 transduction. We show that the regenerative response of the utricle correlates with a more accessible chromatin structure in utricle supporting cells compared to their cochlear counterparts. We also provide evidence that Atoh1 transduction of supporting cells is able to promote increased transcriptional accessibility of some hair cell genes. Our study offers a possible explanation for regenerative differences between sensory organs of the inner ear, but shows that additional factors to Atoh1 may be required for optimal reprogramming of hair cell fate.