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A SINGLE gene may provide [...].

A SINGLE gene may provide important clues to the causes of some types of deafness, research suggests.

When the FGF20 gene was "knocked out" of mice, the animals appeared perfectly healthy, but had absolutely no ability to hear. In humans, the gene has already been associated with inherited deafness.

FGF20 codes for one of a family of proteins called fibroblast growth factors.

The molecules play key roles in embryonic development, tissue maintenance and wound healing.

Disabling the gene caused a loss of outer hair cells, a special sensory cell in the inner ear responsible for amplifying sound.

Mice lacking FGF20 were missing about twothirds of their outer hair cells. The number of inner hair cells which transmit amplified sound signals to the brain, were normal.

"This is the first evidence that inner and outer hair cells develop independently," said lead researcher Dr Sung-Ho Huh, from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, US.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2012
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