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Zebrafish as a model for hearing loss

Understanding hair cell development, death and regeneration






Hair cells of the inner ear act as mechanosensors, converting mechanical stimuli to electrical signals transmitted to the brain. Hair cells of the auditory organs respond to sound stimuli for hearing perception; those in the vestibular organs respond to gravity and head movements for perception of balance.

Hair cells are called such because they have actin-rich protrusions, stereocilia, at their apical end. Displacement of stereocilia opens ion channels resulting in depolarization and release of transmitter from synapses at the basal end of the cell to terminals of innervating afferent nerves.

Damage and loss of hair cells are leading causes of hearing and balance disorders, affecting over 40 million people in the US. Hair cells are susceptible to environmental insults, including noise, chemical exposure and accumulated damage during aging. Hair cell loss in humans is irreversible.

Zebrafish lateral line hair cells share many properties with those of the inner ear, and are sensitive to the same types of damaging agents as human cells. However they are able to regenerate hair cells throughout life. The location of the lateral line on the surface of the body allows access for visualization and manipulation.


Select Publications

Thomas ED, Raible DW. (2019). Distinct progenitor populations mediate regeneration in the zebrafish lateral line. Elife, 8. pii: e43736. PMCID: PMC6433462

Pickett SB, Raible DW. (2019). Water Waves to Sound Waves: Using Zebrafish to Explore Hair Cell Biology. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 20(1):1-19. PMCID: PMC6364261

Pickett SB, Thomas ED, Sebe J, Esterberg R, Linbo T, Hailey D, Raible DW. (2018). Cumulative mitochondrial activity confers selective susceptibility in active zebrafish mechanosensory hair cells. Elife, 7. pii: e38062. PMCID: PMC6345563

Chowdhury, S., Owens, K.N., Herr, J., Jiang, Q., Chen, X., Johnson, G., Groppi, V., Raible, D.W., Rubel, EW and Simon J.A. (2018). Phenotypic Optimization of Urea-Thiophene Carboxamides To Yield Potent, Well Tolerated, and Orally Active Protective Agents against Aminoglycoside-Induced Hearing Loss. J. Med. Chem., 2018 61(1):84-97. PMCID: PMC5889090

Sebe, J., Cho, S., Sheets, L., Rutherford, M., von Gersdorff, H., and Raible, D.W. (2017). Ca2+ permeable AMPARs mediate glutamatergic transmission and excitotoxic damage at the hair cell afferent synapse. J. Neurosci., 37:6162-6175.PMCID: PMC5481947

Hailey, DW, Esterberg R, Linbo T, Rubel, E.W. and Raible, D.W. (2017). Delivery of aminoglycoside antibiotics to the lysosomes predicts their toxicity in mechanosensory hair cells. J. Clinical Invest. 127(2):472-486.PMCID: PMC5272180

Esterberg R, Linbo T, Pickett SB, WuP, Ou HC, Rubel, E.W. and Raible, D.W. (2016). Mitochondrial calcium uptake underlies ROS generation during aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death. J. Clinical Invest., 126:3556-66. PMCID: PMC5004972

Suli, A., Pujol, R., Cunningham, D.E., Hailey, D.W., Prendergast, A., Rubel, E.W. and Raible, D.W. (2016). Innervation Regulates Synaptic Ribbons in Lateral Line Mechanosensory Hair Cells. J Cell Sci. 129:2250-60. PMCID: PMC4920245

Stawicki TM, Hernandez L, Esterberg R, Linbo T, Owens KN, Shah AN, Thapa N, Roberts B, Moens CB, Rubel, E.W. and Raible, D.W. (2016). Cilia genes play differing roles in aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death in zebrafish. G3, 6:2225-35. PMCID: PMC4938675

Thomas, E.D., Cruz, I.A., Hailey, D.W., and Raible D.W. (2015). There and back again: Development and regeneration of the zebrafish lateral line system. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 4:1-16. PMCID: PMC4268111

Cruz, I.A., Kappedal, R., Mackenzie, S.M., Hailey, D.W., Hoffman, T.L., Schilling, T.F. and Raible, D.W. (2015). Robust regeneration of adult zebrafish lateral line hair cells reflects continued precursor pool maintenance. Dev. Biol., 402: 229-238. PMCID: PMC4450121

Esterberg, R., Hailey, D.W., Rubel, EW, and Raible, D.W. (2014). ER-mitochondrial calcium flow underlies vulnerability of mechanosensory hair cells to damage. J. Neurosci., 34:9703-9719. PMCID: PMC4099547

Suli, A., Guler, A.D., Raible D.W. and Kimelman, D. (2014). Targeted gene expression system using the Tryptophan Repressor in zebrafish shows no silencing in subsequent generations. Development, 141:1167-1174. PMCID: PMC3929415

Esterberg, R., Hailey, D.W., Coffin, A.B., Raible, D.W. and Rubel, E.W. (2013). Disruption of intracellular calcium is integral to aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death. J Neurosci., 33: 7513-7525. PMCID: PMC3703319

Ma, E.Y., Rubel, E.W and Raible, D.W. (2008). Notch signaling regulates the extent of hair cell regeneration in the zebrafish lateral line. J. Neurosci., 28: 2261-2273.

Owens, K.N., Santos, F., Roberts, B., Linbo, T., Knisely, A.J., Simon, J.A., Rubel, E.W and Raible, D.W. (2008). Identification of genetic and chemical modulators of zebrafish mechanosensory hair cell death. PLoS Genetics, 4: e1000020. PMCID: PMC2265478

Nechiporuk, A. and Raible, D.W. (2008). Fgf-dependent primordium organization drives lateral line segmentation in zebrafish. Science, 320:1774-1777.

Other publications on PubMed

Lab Members


David Raible


Tor Linbo

Research Scientist

Andrea McQuate


Esra Camci


Samantha Davis

Graduate Student

Ivan Cruz


Tricia Wu

Research Scientist

Madeleine Hewitt

Grad Student

Former lab members

Graduate Students

Nick Coley
Ivan Cruz
Kevin Curran
Kelly Grant
Will Henry
Jessica Lewis
Eva Ma
Scott Mackenzie
Sarah Malmquist
Hillary McGraw
Sarah Pickett
Andrew Prendergast
Jared Ragland
Eric Thomas
Josette Ungos

Resident, UC Davis
Postdoc, UW
Adjunct Professor, USD
Assistant Professor, Gannon University
Assistant Attorney General, WA State
IP Attorney, Quarles and Brady
Instructor, UW Bothell
Editor, Inside Flyer
Assistant Professor, U Minnesota
Assistant Professor, UMKC
Postdoc, SFSU
Postdoc, INSERM
Policy Director, Software Alliance
Postdoc, SCRI

Postdoctoral Fellows

Alexandra Abramsson
Heather Brignull
Alli Coffin
Cynthia Cooper
Richard Dorsky
Robert Esterberg
Dale Hailey
James Lister
Alex Nechiporuk
Kelly Owens
Cat Pittack
Joy Sebe
Iain Shepherd
Corey Snelson
Tamara Stawicki
Heather Stickney
Arminda Suli

Researcher, University of Gothenburg
Scientific Communications
Assistant Professor, WSU Vancouver
Associate Professor, WSU Vancouver
Professor, University of Utah
Scientist, Novartis
Director, Garvey Imaging Center, ISCRM, UW
Assistant Professor, VCU
Associate Professor, OHSU
Lecturer, UW
Senior Lecturer, UW
Project Lead, Open Doors
Associate Professor, Emory
Healthcare Consultant, Boston Strategic Partners
Assistant Professor, Lafayette University
Scientist, Ambry Genetics
Assistant Professor, BYU



David Raible

Lab Phone: 206.616.7467
University of Washington
Department of Biological Structure
Heath Sciences H-501
1959 NE Pacific St.
Seattle, WA 98195-7420

© Raible Lab 2019