Fritzsch, B; Maklad, A; Bruce, L L L; Crapon de Caprona, M D
This paper outlines the development of the gravistatic sensory system of the ear. First, evidence is presented that a genetic program, for which major transcription factors have already been identified using gene expression studies and targeted mutagenesis, governs the initial development of this system. Second, the formation of sensory neurons and their connections to the brain is described as revealed by tracing studies and genetic manipulations. It is concluded that the initial development of the connections of sensory neurons with mechanosensory transducers of the ear (the hair cells) and the targets in the brainstem (vestibular nuclei) is also dependent on fairly rigid genetic programs. During late embryonic and early postnatal development, however, sensory input appears to be used to fine-tune connections of these sensory neurons with the hair cells in the ear as well as with second order vestibular neurons in the brainstem. This phase is proposed to be critical for a proper calibration of the gravistatic information processing in the brain.