The USH2A gene is mutated in patients with Usher syndrome type IIa, which is the most common subtype of Usher syndrome and is characterized by hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa. Since mutation analysis by DNA sequencing of exons 1-21 revealed only ~63% of the expected USH2A mutations, we searched for so-far-uncharacterized exons of the gene. We identified 51 novel exons at the 3' end of the gene, and we obtained indications for alternative splicing. The putative protein encoded by the longest open reading frame harbors, in addition to the known functional domains, two laminin G and 28 fibronectin type III repeats, as well as a transmembrane region followed by an intracellular domain with a PDZ-binding domain at its C-terminal end. Semiquantitative expression profile analysis suggested a low level of expression for both the long and the short isoform(s) and partial overlap in spatial and temporal expression patterns. Mutation analysis in 12 unrelated patients with Usher syndrome, each with one mutation in exons 1-21, revealed three different truncating mutations in four patients and two missense mutations in one patient. The presence of pathogenic mutations in the novel exons indicates that at least one of the putative long isoforms of the USH2A protein plays a role in both hearing and vision.