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Cell. 2000 Aug 4;102(3):377-85.

The deaf jerker mouse has a mutation in the gene encoding the espin actin-bundling proteins of hair cell stereocilia and lacks espins.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and the Institute for Neuroscience, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


The espins are actin-bundling proteins of brush border microvilli and Sertoli cell-spermatid junctions. We have determined that espins are also present in hair cell stereocilia and have uncovered a connection between the espin gene and jerker, a recessive mutation that causes hair cell degeneration, deafness, and vestibular dysfunction. The espin gene maps to the same region of mouse chromosome 4 as jerker. The tissues of jerker mice do not accumulate espin proteins but contain normal levels of espin mRNAs. The espin gene of jerker mice has a frameshift mutation that affects the espin C-terminal actin-bundling module. These data suggest that jerker mice are, in effect, espin null and that the jerker phenotype results from a mutation in the espin gene.

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