Gene of the month - Headbobber

08 January 2014

Interview with

Kat Arney

And now, it's time for our Gene of the Month, and this time it's Headbobber -  a genetic fault explored this year by Professor Karen Steel and her team, who we heard from earlier.  Headbobber mice have characteristic ear problems including bobbing their heads (obviously), going round in circles, balance problems and deafness. Although the precise gene fault hasn't been tracked down yet, it's due to a missing portion of mouse chromosome 7, which contains three genes, as well as some control switches for nearby genes. 

These genes seem to be important for the growth and organisation of the inner ear in the womb, which creates the parts responsible for hearing and balance. Importantly, this mirrors a genetic fault in humans with similar hearing and balance problems, which are due to a missing portion of chromosome 10 - the comparable region to mouse chromosome 7. The researchers hope the Headbobber mice could be a good model for deafness caused by these gene faults, and help to shed light on the condition in humans.

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