A team of University Hospitals researchers led by Brian McDermott, PhD, Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology, Genetics and Genome Sciences and Neuroscience, School of Medicine, published the cover article in the January 1, 2014, issue of the Journal of Neuroscience based on their work studying mechanosensitive hair bundles in zebrafish.
Zebrafish provide a useful model for studying hearing loss, as the hair cells are very similar to human cells, and their development can be studied from the larval stage in the optically transparent fish.
Using these models, Dr. McDermott's team demonstrated that the protein ACF7 links hair cell microtubules to actin on the cuticular plate. The work provides new insight into the cytoskeleton and genesis of hair cells and, potentially, could help reveal underlying genetic causes of deafness. This is just one area of research in the zebrafish lab, which has recently been expanded with the support of UH Case Medical Center, to house more than 30,000 specimens.