Hearing molecules: contributions from genetic deafness
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- Eisen, M.D. & Ryugo, D.K. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2007) 64: 566. doi:10.1007/s00018-007-6417-3
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Considerable progress has been made over the past decade identifying many genes associated with deafness. With the identification of these hereditary deafness genes and the proteins they encode, molecular elements of basic hearing mechanisms emerge. As functional studies of these molecular elements become available, we can put together the pieces of the puzzle and begin to reach an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of hearing. The goal of this review is to discuss studies over the past decade that address the function of the proteins implicated in genetic deafness and to place them in the context of basic molecular mechanisms in hearing. The first part of this review highlights structural and functional features of the cochlea and auditory nerve. This background will provide a context for the second part, which addresses the molecular mechanisms underlying cochlear function as elucidated by genetic causes of deafness.