Musashi1 (Msi1) is an RNA-binding protein expressed in neural stem/progenitor cells, astroglial progenitor cells and astrocytes in the vertebrate central nervous system. We hypothesized that Msi1 is expressed in only some of the supporting cells in the cochlea, which could become hair cell progenitors under special circumstances after an injury. To observe this, we investigated Msi1 expression in young adult mouse cochlea by immunohistochemistry using monoclonal antibody against Msi1. Msi1 immunostaining was found in a variety of supporting cells but not in outer hair cells in the organ of Corti. Although an immunoreactive ring was found around the inner hair cells, it also seemed to originate from the supporting cells. We suppose that this wide expression of Msi1 in supporting cells indicates that those cells might have the potential to become hair cell progenitors if injured, but that some other mechanisms strictly inhibit this ability.
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