Molecular genetics

Molecular genetics lab

In both noise and age-related hearing impairment, synapses degeneration precedes hair cell loss and threshold shift. Understanding why subtypes of synapses and their corresponding type I spiral ganglion neurons (SGNI) die requires the knowledge of genes that are expressed in individual neurons and that contribute to their differential vulnerability to noise.

The Mustapha lab main goal is to determine identity-specific molecular profiles and define genes that distinguish SGNI subtypes. We will combine our expertise in human and mouse genetics, single cell whole-transcriptome and whole animal and cell physiology to investigate the anatomical and functional heterogeneity in spiral ganglion neurons type I and their differential susceptibility to ageing and noise damage.

Fig triple transgenic

Together with the opportunity to work with world-expert physiologists in the field at the University of Sheffield and geneticists at MRC Harwell, we are confident that we will contribute to the identification of genetic factors involved in the cochlear response to ageing and/or noise trauma. Knowledge of these mechanisms is essential for devising early diagnostic, intervention and/or treatments for auditory synaptopathy, and consequently for both noise-induced and age-related hearing impairment.

Primary investigators


  • Professor Walter Marcotti (University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Stuart Johnson (University of Sheffield)