Our research projects have two tightly linked goals: (i) to decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the development of the auditory system and the way it processes acoustic signals; the lab is mainly focused on the mechanotransduction (MET) process and the fascinating synaptic properties of the auditory sensory cells as well as the way their auditory afferent neurons operate. A focus on the auditory central system is also developed; and (ii) to identify the genes causative for deafness in humans, early- and late-onset forms, as well as forms including retinal defects (Usher syndrome), to elucidate the corresponding pathogenic pathways as well as to search for therapeutic tools based on the gathered knowledge.
Genes causative for some twenty monogenic deafness forms have been identified in C. Petit’s laboratory. These proteins are key components of the auditory MET machinery, the sensory cell synapse and the auditory nerves. Puzzling out of the molecular physiology and pathophysiology of the peripheral auditory system through multidisciplinary analyses (morphological, biochemical, in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiology and behavior analyses) of mouse models for human deafness is a major focus of the lab. Because these models also allow unraveling new physiological properties of the hearing system, much effort is devoted to this research field.