By adapting to sustained stimuli, hair cells of the internal ear maintain their optimal sensitivity to minute displacements. Biophysical experiments have suggested that adaptation is mediated by a molecular motor, most likely a member of the myosin family. To provide direct evidence for the presence of myosin isozymes in hair bundles, we used photoaffinity labeling with vanadate-trapped uridine and adenine nucleotides to identify proteins of 120, 160, and 230 kd in a preparation of hair bundles purified from the bullfrog's sacculus. The photoaffinity labeling properties of these proteins, particularly the 120 kd protein, resembled those of other well-characterized myosins. A 120 kd hair-bundle protein was also recognized by a monoclonal antibody directed against a vertebrate myosin I isozyme. Immunofluorescence microscopy localized this protein near the beveled top edge of the hair bundle, the site of mechano-electrical transduction and adaptation.
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