Usher syndrome type 1 (USH1) is an autosomal recessive, genetically heterogeneous disorder causing severe congenital deafness, retinitis pigmentosa, and vestibular dysfunction. The USH1a locus located on 14q32 has been linked to the genetic markers D14S250 and D14S78. Using D14S250 and D14S78, we have isolated two nonchimeric YACs, 878910 and 84492, and a single BAC (135i20) and PAC (194e17) clone and have arranged them into a contig spanning over the D14S250 and D14S78 markers. The analysis of the YACs, BAC, and PAC revealed that the physical distance between D14S250 and D14S78 is less than 25 kb. Iterative cDNA library screening initiated with the EST 219670 found in the vicinity of the D14S78 marker yielded a cDNA contig. The nucleotide sequence of the eDNA encodes a protein of 717 amino acids in length, showing a high level of homology to the Echinoderm 77-kDa microtubule-associated protein (EMAP). The human homologue of Echinoderm microtubule-associated protein defines a novel human gene. We propose that the human EMAP is a strong candidate for the USH1a gene based on its genomic location and the proposed function of the protein.
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