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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Understanding hearing mechanisms in light of genetic disorders of this sensory system: from sound detection to auditory perception Event

Professor Christine Petit
17:30 - 19:00
27 October 2016
Room 3031, Lanchester Building 7, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton

For more information regarding this event, please email Elizabeth Nutburn at c/o .

Event details

A presentation by distinguished invited lecturer Professor Christine Petit of the College de France (Chair of Genetics and Cellular Physiology) and the Institut Pasteur, Paris. Please register for this event.

Abstract: Hearing is unique among the senses in its increasing contribution to communication during evolution, culminating in the development of language and music by humans. The molecular mechanisms underlying the development and functioning of the auditory system remained unknown until the start of the 1990s. We developed a genetic approach based on the identification of deafness genes in humans, and then carried out multidisciplinary studies, mostly in genetically engineered mouse mutants, to obtain insight into the operation of this sensory system and the molecular networks underlying this functioning. This lecture will describe the progress we have made, on both aspects, towards understanding sound processing by the auditory sensory cells, the hair cells, and, in particular, the way in which their sensory antennae, the hair bundles, work to mediate the interplay between their various functions. It will show how this research has, in parallel, revolutionized our knowledge of sensorineural deafness. Based on recent results, a new focus is emerging, highlighting the molecular mechanisms of auditory perception and revealing an overlooked side of inherited deafness that should lead to a reappraisal of therapies for hearing impairment.

Speaker information

Professor Christine Petit,College de France (Chair of Genetics and Cellular Physiology) and the Institut Pasteur, Paris,Biography Christine PETIT graduated in medicine (M.D. from Pierre et Marie Curie University – Paris VI) and in basic biological sciences, genetics and biochemistry, at Orsay University (Paris XI). She received her Ph.D at Institut Pasteur. During her research training, she studied microbial genetics with Gunnar Lindhal and François Jacob, cell genetics, human genetics with Jean Weissenbach and Pierre Tiollais, and immunology. In 2002, she was appointed Professor at College de France where she holds the chair of “Genetics and Cellular Physiology”. She is currently the head of the “Genetics and Physiology of Hearing laboratory” (Inserm Unit UMRS 1120) at Institut Pasteur. Through her work on the structure of the human genome, Christine Petit elucidated the origin of sex inversion in humans, which results in XX males and XY females. She then focused on the sensory systems and attempted to understand the hereditary defects of olfaction and subsequently hearing (and vision, to a lesser extent). After identifying the first gene responsible for a total absence of smell in humans (the X-linked gene responsible for Kallmann syndrome), she developed experimental conditions for the study of hereditary deafness. This approach led to the identification of a large number of deafness-causing genes, most of which are implicated in early forms of deafness. She then elucidated the underlying mechanisms associated with these genes, and classified them into a number of physiopathological categories. She developed an interdisciplinary approach to decipher various aspects of the cellular and molecular basis of acoustic signal processing by the auditory system Information taken from

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