Protein’s Role in Hair Cell Development Is Identified

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Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have conducted a study that has determined the role that a critical protein plays in the development of hair cells. These hair cells are vital for hearing. Some of these cells amplify sounds that come into the ear, and others transform sound waves into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Ronna Hertzano, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at UMSOM and Maggie Matern, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, demonstrated that the protein, called GFI1, may be critical for determining whether an embryonic hair cell matures into a functional adult hair cell or becomes a different cell that functions more like a nerve cell or neuron.The study was published in the journal Development, and was conducted by physician-scientists and researchers at the UMSOM Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and the UMSOM Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS), in collaboration with researchers at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel.Hearing relies on the proper functioning of specialized cells within the inner ear called hair cells. When the hair cells do not develop properly or are …

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