We constructed and screened a human fetal cochlear cDNA library to identify genes involved in hearing and deafness. From this library we isolated a cDNA corresponding to the highly conserved ancient gene antiquitin (ATQ1). The plant homolog of ATQ1 is thought to be involved in regulating turgor pressure, a function that also would be essential for cells of the mammalian cochlea. Northern blots of 13 human fetal tissues show antiquitin to be highly expressed in cochlea, ovary, eye, heart, and kidney. Using RT- PCR of rat cochlear hair cell-specific cDNA libraries, we detect antiquitin expression in outer hair cells, but not in inner or vestibular type 1 hair cells, suggesting that antiquitin is not expressed ubiquitously in the cochlea. Human ATQ1 was mapped to human chromosome region 5q31 using fluorescence in situ hybridization, and mouse ATQ1 was mapped to mouse chromosome 18 by single-strand conformation polymorphism mapping of interspecific backcross progeny DNAs. Four human antiquitin-like sequences, possibly pseudogenes, were also identified and mapped.
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