Usher protein functions in hair cells and photoreceptors.

Authors: Cosgrove D, Zallocchi M
The 10 different genes associated with the deaf/blind disorder, Usher syndrome, encode a number of structurally and functionally distinct proteins, most expressed as multiple isoforms/protein variants. Functional characterization of these proteins suggests a role in stereocilia development in cochlear hair cells, likely owing to adhesive interactions in hair bundles. In mature hair cells, homodimers of the Usher cadherins, cadherin 23 and protocadherin 15, interact to form a structural fiber, the tip link, and the linkages that anchor the taller stereocilia’s actin cytoskeleton core to the shorter adjacent stereocilia and the elusive mechanotransduction channels, explaining the deafness phenotype when these molecular interactions are pertur…