Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS) is a heterogeneous, autosomal recessive disorder characterized by mental retardation, obesity, retinitis pigmentosa, syndactyly and/or polydactyly, short stature, and hypogenitalism and is caused by mutations at a number of distinct loci. Using a positional cloning approach for identifying the BBS4 (chromosome 15) gene, we identified and cloned an unconventional myosin gene, myosin IXA (HGMW-approved symbol MYO9A). Since mutations in unconventional myosins are known to cause several human diseases, and since mutations of unconventional myosin VIIa cause retinal degeneration, we evaluated myosin IXA as a candidate for BBS. We exploited PCR-based techniques to clone a 8473-nt cDNA for myosin IXA. A 7644-bp open reading frame predicts a protein with all the hallmarks of class IX unconventional myosins. Human Northern blot analysis and in situ hybridization of mouse embryos reveal that myosin IXA is expressed in many tissues consistent with BBS. Intron/exon boundaries were identified, and myosin IXA DNA and RNA from BBS4 patients were evaluated for mutation.
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