Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Janet L Cyr


Hair cells of the inner ear are responsible for hearing and balance. These hair cells are limited in number and do not regenerate following injury. To better appreciate the function of these cells it is important to understand the molecular basis of hearing and the roles of the various molecules involved in this process. The overall goal of our laboratory is to understand the molecular basis of mechanotransduction, a process that converts the mechanical sound wave to an electrical stimulus that is transmitted to the brain. We are specifically interested in the motor protein myosin-1c (Myo1c) that has been previously shown to be involved in the adaptation response, a process that makes the hair cells sensitive to prolonged stimulation. Myo1c is a mechanoenzyme that uses the energy of ATP hydrolysis to power its movement along F-actin. The goal of this research is to examine the motor properties of Myo1c, specifically the role of the neck region of the protein in its ATPase activity. Research with other myosins of the same class has elucidated the importance of the neck length of myosins in their enzyme activity and to date no such reports exist for Myo1c. In addition to hair cells, Myo1c is also expressed in other cell types, such as neurons and adipocytes in culture and is involved in motility and vesicle transport in these cells respectively. Thus understanding the regulation of Myo1c function will also enable us to understand its role in various physiological processes.