A novel auditory ossicles membrane and the development of conductive hearing loss in Dmp1-null mice.
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Genetic mouse models are widely used for understanding human diseases but we know much less about the anatomical structure of the auditory ossicles in the mouse than we do about human ossicles. Furthermore, current studies have mainly focused on disease conditions such as osteomalacia and rickets in patients with hypophosphatemia rickets, although the reason that these patients develop late-onset hearing loss is unknown. In this study, we first analyzed Dmp1 lac Z knock-in auditory ossicles (in which the blue reporter is used to trace DMP1 expression in osteocytes) using X-gal staining and discovered a novel bony membrane surrounding the mouse malleus. This finding was further confirmed by 3-D micro-CT, X-ray, and alizarin red stained images. We speculate that this unique structure amplifies and facilitates sound wave transmissions in two ways: increasing the contact surface between the eardrum and malleus and accelerating the sound transmission due to its mineral content. Next, we documented a progressive deterioration in the Dmp1-null auditory ossicle structures using multiple imaging techniques. The auditory brainstem response test demonstrated a conductive hearing loss in the adult Dmp1-null mice. This finding may help to explain in part why patients with DMP1 mutations develop late-onset hearing loss, and supports the critical role of DMP1 in maintaining the integrity of the auditory ossicles and its bony membrane.