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Melanie Barzik, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Carolo-Wilhelmina Technical University of Braunschweig,
Since joining the NIDCD in 2014, I have been investigating the role of myosin motors in the development and maintenance of cells in the auditory system. Of particular interest are hair cells of the inner ear, which contain mechanosensitive hair bundles composed of actin-rich stereocilia. Mutations in five different myosin classes have been reported to cause human hereditary deafness, yet the precise role of these molecular motors in maintaining hair cell stereocilia and/or sound transduction is not well understood. One area of interest is to define the role of unconventional myosin 15 in hearing and balance and the ways in which mutations in myosin 15 cause progressive non-syndromic hearing loss in mice.
In another project, I am investigating how myosin 15 function is regulated by novel binding partners. For that, we have developed a cell-based assay (bioRxiv doi:10.1101/053744) to validate potential myosin 15 interactors and to identify critical binding domains and motifs.
I also have an active role in mentoring Ph.D. candidates and post-baccalaureate students in the lab.