Mutations in the MYO7A gene, encoding the motor protein myosin VIIa, can cause Usher 1B, a deafness/blindness syndrome in humans, and the shaker-1 phenotype, characterized by deafness, head tossing, and circling behavior, in mice. Myosin VIIa is responsible for tension bearing and the transduction mechanism in the stereocilia and for melanosome transport in the retina, in line with the phenotypic outcomes observed in mice. However, the effect of the shaker-1 mutation, a R502P amino acid substitution, on the motor function is unclear. To explore this question, we determined the kinetic properties and the effect on the filopodial tip localization of the recombinant mouse myosin VIIa-5IQ-SAH R502P (myoVIIa-sh1) construct. Interestingly, although residue 502 is localized to a region thought to be involved in interacting with actin, the kinetic parameters for actin binding changed only slightly for the mutant construct. However, the rate constant for ATP hydrolysis (k+H + k-H) was reduced by ∼200-fold from 12 s-1 to 0.05 s-1, making the hydrolysis step the rate-limiting step of the ATPase cycle in the presence and absence of actin. Given that wild-type mouse myosin VIIa is a slow, high-duty ratio, monomeric motor, this altered hydrolysis rate would reduce activity to extremely low levels. Indeed, the translocation to the filopodial tips was hampered by the diminished motor function of a dimeric construct of the shaker-1 mutant. We conclude that the diminished motor activity of this mutant is most likely responsible for impaired hearing in the shaker-1 mice.
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