Usher syndrome type 3 (USH3) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterised by the association of post-lingual progressive hearing loss, progressive visual loss due to retinitis pigmentosa and variable presence of vestibular dysfunction. Because the previously defined transcripts do not account for all USH3 cases, we performed further analysis and revealed the presence of additional exons embedded in longer human and mouse USH3A transcripts and three novel USH3A mutations. Expression of Ush3a transcripts was localised by whole mount in situ hybridisation to cochlear hair cells and spiral ganglion cells. The full length USH3A transcript encodes clarin-1, a four-transmembrane-domain protein, which defines a novel vertebrate-specific family of three paralogues. Limited sequence homology to stargazin, a cerebellar synapse four-transmembrane-domain protein, suggests a role for clarin-1 in hair cell and photoreceptor cell synapses, as well as a common pathophysiological pathway for different Usher syndromes.