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Unravelling the genetics of deafness

Steel, K. P., Mburu, P., Gibson, F., Walsh, J., Varela, A., Brown, K., Self, T., Mahony, M., Fleming, J., Pearce, A., Harvey, D., Cable, Joanne and Brown, S. D. 1997. Unravelling the genetics of deafness. Annals of Otology, Rhynology and Laryngology Supplement 168 , pp. 59-62.

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Hearing-impaired mouse mutants not only are good models for human hereditary deafness, but also are extremely useful for understanding the molecular basis of the cochlear defect. We describe here how we identified the gene responsible for the deafness and vestibular defects in the shaker-1 mouse mutant as a myosin VII gene. Three different mutations, all causing the same phenotype in different lines of mouse, were found, providing good evidence that we had, indeed, found the correct gene. The same gene was subsequently found to be involved in Usher's syndrome type 1B, which features deafness, vestibular dysfunction, and progressive retinitis pigmentosa. The myosin VII gene is expressed in sensory hair cells, but not in supporting cells or neurons. We are investigating the role of myosin VII in hair cell development and function. Analysis of the different mutant stocks suggests it has at least two functions. First it is involved in the development and maintenance of the stereocilia bundle. Second, it has a role in inner hair cell function. No evidence of retinal degeneration like that in Usher's syndrome has been found in the shaker-1 mutants so far studied. The benefits of understanding the function of the gene for families with Usher's type 1B are discussed. This gene is the first to be identified as causing the most common type of disorder in human hearing impairment, neuroepithelial abnormalities, and suggests a new class of candidate genes for involvement in such defects.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 0003-4894
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:38

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