University of Iowa Biological Sciences Professor Daniel F. Eberl and his colleagues at Duke University have uncovered genetic defects leading to deafness in fruit flies that may shed light on deafness in humans. Their research paper, "Myosin VIIA Defects, which Underlie the Usher 1B Syndrome in Humans, Lead to Deafness in Drosophila," is scheduled for publication in the May 10 issue of the journal Current Biology.
Eberl says their recent work -- showing that loss of function in the Myosin VIIA gene leads to complete deafness in fruit flies -- has brought scientists one step closer to understanding how such mutations result in inner-ear abnormalities and deafness in humans. "Myosin VIIA was one of the first human hereditary deafness genes to be identified. But it is not clear exactly how this molecule works in the human ear," he says.
Previous evidence suggested that fruit flies and humans rely on the same genes to develop their auditory organs, which in the fruit fly is in the antenna. Eberls research shows that at least one molecular component specialized for hearing function, myosin VIIA, is conserved in these ears.
Gary Galluzzo | EurekAlert!
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