Common genes required for normal mechanotransduction in touch and hearing

Project Leaders: Gary Lewin e-mail/Manfred Gross e-mail


In the last project period we have established a new genetics of touch. We identified several genes that have quantitative effects on touch sensation in humans and three of these genes are also deafness genes (MYO7A, USH2A and KCNQ4). Our studies indicate that there are likely to be many more genes to be discovered that influence touch sensation. We aim in the next period to be able to identify such genes in Usher patients as well as other touch impaired human cohorts. We have also used developmental screens in mice to identify novel membrane proteins that might contribute to mechanosensory competence. We have identified several proteins that may modulate sensory mechanotransduction. We will functionally characterize novel mechanotransduction proteins in mouse models and use biochemical and genetic approaches to ask if there is a “touch gene” protein network.