Myosin VIIa, the product of the Usher 1B syndrome gene, is concentrated in the connecting cilia of photoreceptor cells

Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1997;37(3):240-52. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0169(1997)37:3<240::AID-CM6>3.0.CO;2-A.


Usher syndrome is the most common form of combined deafness and blindness. The gene that is defective in Usher syndrome 1B (USH1B) encodes for an unconventional myosin, myosin VIIa. To understand the cellular function of myosin VIIa and why defects in it lead to USH1B, it is essential to determine the precise cellular and subcellular localization of the protein. We investigated the distribution of myosin VIIa in human and rodent photoreceptor cells and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), primarily by immunoelectron microscopy, using antibodies generated against two different domains of the protein. In both human and rodent retinae, myosin VIIa was detected in the apical processes of the RPE and in the cilium of rod and cone photoreceptor cells. Immunogold label was most concentrated in the connecting cilium. Here, myosin VIIa appeared to be distributed outside the ring of doublet microtubules near the ciliary plasma membrane. These observations indicate that a major role of myosin VIIa in the retina is in the photoreceptor cilium, perhaps in such a function as trafficking newly synthesized phototransductive membrane or maintaining the diffusion barrier between the inner and outer segments. Our results support the notion that defective ciliary function is the underlying cellular abnormality that leads to cellular degeneration in Usher syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cilia / metabolism*
  • Dyneins
  • Genes, Recessive*
  • Hearing Disorders / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Myosin VIIa
  • Myosins / genetics*
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / genetics*
  • Syndrome


  • MYO7A protein, human
  • Myosin VIIa
  • Myosins
  • Dyneins