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Myosin I and adaptation of mechanical transduction by the inner ear


Twenty years ago, the description of hair-cell stereocilia as actin-rich structures led to speculation that myosin molecules participated in mechanical transduction in the inner ear. In 1987, Howard and Hudspeth proposed specifically that a myosin I might mediate adaptation of the transduction current carried by hair cells, the sensory cells of the ear. We exploited the myosin literature to design tests of this hypothesis and to show that the responsible isoform is myosin 1c. The identification of this myosin as the adaptation motor would have been impossible without thorough experimentation on other myosins, particularly muscle myosins. The sliding-filament hypothesis for muscle contraction has thus led to a detailed understanding of the behaviour of hair cells.

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