Special Issue "Genetics of Hearing Impairment"

A special issue of Genes (ISSN 2073-4425). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ignacio del Castillo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Servicio de Genética, Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, IRYCIS, Madrid, Spain
2. Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Madrid, Spain
Interests: inherited hearing impairment; gene identification; spectra of mutations; mechanisms of pathogenesis; auditory phenotypes; physiology of the inner ear; mouse models; gene therapy
Prof. Dr. Hannie Kremer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Department of Human Genetics, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Interests: inherited hearing impairment; gene identification; spectra of mutations; mechanisms of pathogenesis; auditory phenotypes; physiology of the inner ear; mouse models; gene therapy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The inner ear is a complex machinery at the cellular and molecular levels. Many different genes and proteins play roles in the development and maintenance of its structure and function through participating in diverse molecular networks. A defect in any of these components can result in hearing impairment. Consequently, hearing impairment encompasses a wide variety of disorders that are clinically and genetically heterogeneous. Understanding their genetic causes and their pathophysiological mechanisms, and characterizing the resulting phenotypes, are essential for developing novel therapies that target the specific defects. Application of the most recent omics technologies and genome editing methods is boosting the research in this field. This Special Issue in Genes entitled “Genetics of Hearing Impairment” will address the genes and mutations involved in hearing impairment, the mechanisms through which mutations result in the different syndromic or non-syndromic disorders, the description of the associated phenotypes in humans and in animal models, and the development of specific gene therapies.

Dr. Ignacio del Castillo
Prof. Hannie Kremer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Inner ear
  • Hearing impairment
  • Gene identification
  • Disease-causing mutations
  • Genetic epidemiology
  • Genotype-phenotype correlations
  • Pathophysiological mechanisms
  • Omics
  • Genome editing
  • Gene therapy

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Research

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Article
A Novel Truncating Mutation in HOMER2 Causes Nonsyndromic Progressive DFNA68 Hearing Loss in a Spanish Family
Genes 2021, 12(3), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12030411 - 12 Mar 2021
Viewed by 534
Abstract
Nonsyndromic hereditary hearing loss is a common sensory defect in humans that is clinically and genetically highly heterogeneous. So far, 122 genes have been associated with this disorder and 50 of them have been linked to autosomal dominant (DFNA) forms like DFNA68, a [...] Read more.
Nonsyndromic hereditary hearing loss is a common sensory defect in humans that is clinically and genetically highly heterogeneous. So far, 122 genes have been associated with this disorder and 50 of them have been linked to autosomal dominant (DFNA) forms like DFNA68, a rare subtype of hearing impairment caused by disruption of a stereociliary scaffolding protein (HOMER2) that is essential for normal hearing in humans and mice. In this study, we report a novel HOMER2 variant (c.832_836delCCTCA) identified in a Spanish family by using a custom NGS targeted gene panel (OTO-NGS-v2). This frameshift mutation produces a premature stop codon that may lead in the absence of NMD to a shorter variant (p.Pro278Alafs*10) that truncates HOMER2 at the CDC42 binding domain (CBD) of the coiled-coil structure, a region that is essential for protein multimerization and HOMER2-CDC42 interaction. c.832_836delCCTCA mutation is placed close to the previously identified c.840_840dup mutation found in a Chinese family that truncates the protein (p.Met281Hisfs*9) at the CBD. Functional assessment of the Chinese mutant revealed decreased protein stability, reduced ability to multimerize, and altered distribution pattern in transfected cells when compared with wild-type HOMER2. Interestingly, the Spanish and Chinese frameshift mutations might exert a similar effect at the protein level, leading to truncated mutants with the same Ct aberrant protein tail, thus suggesting that they can share a common mechanism of pathogenesis. Indeed, age-matched patients in both families display quite similar hearing loss phenotypes consisting of early-onset, moderate-to-profound progressive hearing loss. In summary, we have identified the third variant in HOMER2, which is the first one identified in the Spanish population, thus contributing to expanding the mutational spectrum of this gene in other populations, and also to clarifying the genotype–phenotype correlations of DFNA68 hearing loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Peripheral Anomalies in USH2A Cause Central Auditory Anomalies in a Mouse Model of Usher Syndrome and CAPD
Genes 2021, 12(2), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12020151 - 24 Jan 2021
Viewed by 564
Abstract
Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is associated with difficulties hearing and processing acoustic information, as well as subsequent impacts on the development of higher-order cognitive processes (i.e., attention and language). Yet CAPD also lacks clear and consistent diagnostic criteria, with widespread clinical disagreement [...] Read more.
Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is associated with difficulties hearing and processing acoustic information, as well as subsequent impacts on the development of higher-order cognitive processes (i.e., attention and language). Yet CAPD also lacks clear and consistent diagnostic criteria, with widespread clinical disagreement on this matter. As such, identification of biological markers for CAPD would be useful. A recent genome association study identified a potential CAPD risk gene, USH2A. In a homozygous state, this gene is associated with Usher syndrome type 2 (USH2), a recessive disorder resulting in bilateral, high-frequency hearing loss due to atypical cochlear hair cell development. However, children with heterozygous USH2A mutations have also been found to show unexpected low-frequency hearing loss and reduced early vocabulary, contradicting assumptions that the heterozygous (carrier) state is “phenotype free”. Parallel evidence has confirmed that heterozygous Ush2a mutations in a transgenic mouse model also cause low-frequency hearing loss (Perrino et al., 2020). Importantly, these auditory processing anomalies were still evident after covariance for hearing loss, suggesting a CAPD profile. Since usherin anomalies occur in the peripheral cochlea and not central auditory structures, these findings point to upstream developmental feedback effects of peripheral sensory loss on high-level processing characteristic of CAPD. In this study, we aimed to expand upon the mouse behavioral battery used in Perrino et al. (2020) by evaluating central auditory brain structures, including the superior olivary complex (SOC) and medial geniculate nucleus (MGN), in heterozygous and homozygous Ush2a mice. We found that heterozygous Ush2a mice had significantly larger SOC volumes while homozygous Ush2a had significantly smaller SOC volumes. Heterozygous mutations did not affect the MGN; however, homozygous Ush2a mutations resulted in a significant shift towards more smaller neurons. These findings suggest that alterations in cochlear development due to USH2A variation can secondarily impact the development of brain regions important for auditory processing ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Genetics of Hearing Impairment in North-Eastern Romania—A Cost-Effective Improved Diagnosis and Literature Review
Genes 2020, 11(12), 1506; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11121506 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 695
Abstract
Background: We have investigated the main genetic causes for non-syndromic hearing impairment (NSHI) in the hearing impairment individuals from the North-Eastern Romania and proposed a cost-effective diagnosis protocol. Methods: MLPA followed by Sanger Sequencing were used for all 291 patients included in this [...] Read more.
Background: We have investigated the main genetic causes for non-syndromic hearing impairment (NSHI) in the hearing impairment individuals from the North-Eastern Romania and proposed a cost-effective diagnosis protocol. Methods: MLPA followed by Sanger Sequencing were used for all 291 patients included in this study. Results: MLPA revealed abnormal results in 141 cases (48.45%): 57 (40.5%) were c.35delG homozygous, 26 (18.44%) were c.35delG heterozygous, 14 (9.93%) were compound heterozygous and 16 (11.35%) had other types of variants. The entire coding region of GJB2 was sequenced and out of 150 patients with normal results at MLPA, 29.33% had abnormal results: variants in heterozygous state: c.71G>A (28%), c.457G>A (20%), c.269T>C (12%), c.109G>A (12%), c.100A>T (12%), c.551G>C (8%). Out of 26 patients with c.35delG in heterozygous state, 38.46% were in fact compound heterozygous. Conclusions: We identified two variants: c.109G>A and c.100A>T that have not been reported in any study from Romania. MLPA is an inexpensive, rapid and reliable technique that could be a cost-effective diagnosis method, useful for patients with hearing impairment. It can be adaptable for the mutation spectrum in every population and followed by Sanger sequencing can provide a genetic diagnosis for patients with different degrees of hearing impairment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
Article
Identification of Novel CDH23 Variants Causing Moderate to Profound Progressive Nonsyndromic Hearing Loss
Genes 2020, 11(12), 1474; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11121474 - 09 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 532
Abstract
Mutant alleles of CDH23, a gene that encodes a putative calcium-dependent cell-adhesion glycoprotein with multiple cadherin-like domains, are responsible for both recessive DFNB12 nonsyndromic hearing loss (NSHL) and Usher syndrome 1D (USH1D). The encoded protein cadherin 23 (CDH23) plays a [...] Read more.
Mutant alleles of CDH23, a gene that encodes a putative calcium-dependent cell-adhesion glycoprotein with multiple cadherin-like domains, are responsible for both recessive DFNB12 nonsyndromic hearing loss (NSHL) and Usher syndrome 1D (USH1D). The encoded protein cadherin 23 (CDH23) plays a vital role in maintaining normal cochlear and retinal function. The present study’s objective was to elucidate the role of DFNB12 allelic variants of CDH23 in Saudi Arabian patients. Four affected offspring of a consanguineous family with autosomal recessive moderate to profound NSHL without any vestibular or retinal dysfunction were investigated for molecular exploration of genes implicated in hearing impairment. Parallel to this study, we illustrate some possible pitfalls that resulted from unexpected allelic heterogeneity during homozygosity mapping due to identifying a shared homozygous region unrelated to the disease locus. Compound heterozygous missense variants (p.(Asp918Asn); p.(Val1670Asp)) in CDH23 were identified in affected patients by exome sequencing. Both the identified missense variants resulted in a substitution of the conserved residues and evaluation by multiple in silico tools predicted their pathogenicity and variable disruption of CDH23 domains. Three-dimensional structure analysis of human CDH23 confirmed that the residue Asp918 is located at a highly conserved DXD peptide motif and is directly involved in “Ca2+” ion contact. In conclusion, our study identifies pathogenic CDH23 variants responsible for isolated moderate to profound NSHL in Saudi patients and further highlights the associated phenotypic variability with a genotypic hierarchy of CDH23 mutations. The current investigation also supports the application of molecular testing in the clinical diagnosis and genetic counseling of hearing loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Improving the Management of Patients with Hearing Loss by the Implementation of an NGS Panel in Clinical Practice
Genes 2020, 11(12), 1467; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11121467 - 07 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 667
Abstract
A cohort of 128 patients from 118 families diagnosed with non-syndromic or syndromic hearing loss (HL) underwent an exhaustive clinical evaluation. Molecular analysis was performed using targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) with a custom panel that included 59 genes associated with non-syndromic HL or [...] Read more.
A cohort of 128 patients from 118 families diagnosed with non-syndromic or syndromic hearing loss (HL) underwent an exhaustive clinical evaluation. Molecular analysis was performed using targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) with a custom panel that included 59 genes associated with non-syndromic HL or syndromic HL. Variants were prioritized according to the minimum allele frequency and classified according to the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics guidelines. Variant(s) responsible for the disease were detected in a 40% of families including autosomal recessive (AR), autosomal dominant (AD) and X-linked patterns of inheritance. We identified pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants in 26 different genes, 15 with AR inheritance pattern, 9 with AD and 2 that are X-linked. Fourteen of the found variants are novel. This study highlights the clinical utility of targeted NGS for sensorineural hearing loss. The optimal panel for HL must be designed according to the spectrum of the most represented genes in a given population and the laboratory capabilities considering the pressure on healthcare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Genetic Spectrum of Syndromic and Non-Syndromic Hearing Loss in Pakistani Families
Genes 2020, 11(11), 1329; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11111329 - 11 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1000
Abstract
The current molecular genetic diagnostic rates for hereditary hearing loss (HL) vary considerably according to the population background. Pakistan and other countries with high rates of consanguineous marriages have served as a unique resource for studying rare and novel forms of recessive HL. [...] Read more.
The current molecular genetic diagnostic rates for hereditary hearing loss (HL) vary considerably according to the population background. Pakistan and other countries with high rates of consanguineous marriages have served as a unique resource for studying rare and novel forms of recessive HL. A combined exome sequencing, bioinformatics analysis, and gene mapping approach for 21 consanguineous Pakistani families revealed 13 pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants in the genes GJB2, MYO7A, FGF3, CDC14A, SLITRK6, CDH23, and MYO15A, with an overall resolve rate of 61.9%. GJB2 and MYO7A were the most frequently involved genes in this cohort. All the identified variants were either homozygous or compound heterozygous, with two of them not previously described in the literature (15.4%). Overall, seven missense variants (53.8%), three nonsense variants (23.1%), two frameshift variants (15.4%), and one splice-site variant (7.7%) were observed. Syndromic HL was identified in five (23.8%) of the 21 families studied. This study reflects the extreme genetic heterogeneity observed in HL and expands the spectrum of variants in deafness-associated genes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Bi-Allelic Novel Variants in CLIC5 Identified in a Cameroonian Multiplex Family with Non-Syndromic Hearing Impairment
Genes 2020, 11(11), 1249; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11111249 - 23 Oct 2020
Viewed by 899
Abstract
DNA samples from five members of a multiplex non-consanguineous Cameroonian family, segregating prelingual and progressive autosomal recessive non-syndromic sensorineural hearing impairment, underwent whole exome sequencing. We identified novel bi-allelic compound heterozygous pathogenic variants in CLIC5. The variants identified, i.e., the missense [NM_016929.5:c.224T>C; [...] Read more.
DNA samples from five members of a multiplex non-consanguineous Cameroonian family, segregating prelingual and progressive autosomal recessive non-syndromic sensorineural hearing impairment, underwent whole exome sequencing. We identified novel bi-allelic compound heterozygous pathogenic variants in CLIC5. The variants identified, i.e., the missense [NM_016929.5:c.224T>C; p.(L75P)] and the splicing (NM_016929.5:c.63+1G>A), were validated using Sanger sequencing in all seven available family members and co-segregated with hearing impairment (HI) in the three hearing impaired family members. The three affected individuals were compound heterozygous for both variants, and all unaffected individuals were heterozygous for one of the two variants. Both variants were absent from the genome aggregation database (gnomAD), the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Database (dbSNP), and the UK10K and Greater Middle East (GME) databases, as well as from 122 apparently healthy controls from Cameroon. We also did not identify these pathogenic variants in 118 unrelated sporadic cases of non-syndromic hearing impairment (NSHI) from Cameroon. In silico analysis showed that the missense variant CLIC5-p.(L75P) substitutes a highly conserved amino acid residue (leucine), and is expected to alter the stability, the structure, and the function of the CLIC5 protein, while the splicing variant CLIC5-(c.63+1G>A) is predicted to disrupt a consensus donor splice site and alter the splicing of the pre-mRNA. This study is the second report, worldwide, to describe CLIC5 involvement in human hearing impairment, and thus confirms CLIC5 as a novel non-syndromic hearing impairment gene that should be included in targeted diagnostic gene panels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Lights and Shadows in the Genetics of Syndromic and Non-Syndromic Hearing Loss in the Italian Population
Genes 2020, 11(11), 1237; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11111237 - 22 Oct 2020
Viewed by 928
Abstract
Hearing loss (HL), both syndromic (SHL) and non-syndromic (NSHL), is the most common sensory disorder, affecting ~460 million people worldwide. More than 50% of the congenital/childhood cases are attributable to genetic causes, highlighting the importance of genetic testing in this class of disorders. [...] Read more.
Hearing loss (HL), both syndromic (SHL) and non-syndromic (NSHL), is the most common sensory disorder, affecting ~460 million people worldwide. More than 50% of the congenital/childhood cases are attributable to genetic causes, highlighting the importance of genetic testing in this class of disorders. Here we applied a multi-step strategy for the molecular diagnosis of HL in 125 patients, which included: (1) an accurate clinical evaluation, (2) the analysis of GJB2, GJB6, and MT-RNR1 genes, (3) the evaluation STRC-CATSPER2 and OTOA deletions via Multiplex Ligation Probe Amplification (MLPA), (4) Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) in patients negative to steps 2 and 3. Our approach led to the characterization of 50% of the NSHL cases, confirming both the relevant role of the GJB2 (20% of cases) and STRC deletions (6% of cases), and the high genetic heterogeneity of NSHL. Moreover, due to the genetic findings, 4% of apparent NSHL patients have been re-diagnosed as SHL. Finally, WES characterized 86% of SHL patients, supporting the role of already know disease-genes. Overall, our approach proved to be efficient in identifying the molecular cause of HL, providing essential information for the patients’ future management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
GJB2 and GJB6 Genetic Variant Curation in an Argentinean Non-Syndromic Hearing-Impaired Cohort
Genes 2020, 11(10), 1233; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11101233 - 21 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1186
Abstract
Genetic variants in GJB2 and GJB6 genes are the most frequent causes of hereditary hearing loss among several deaf populations worldwide. Molecular diagnosis enables proper genetic counseling and medical prognosis to patients. In this study, we present an update of testing [...] Read more.
Genetic variants in GJB2 and GJB6 genes are the most frequent causes of hereditary hearing loss among several deaf populations worldwide. Molecular diagnosis enables proper genetic counseling and medical prognosis to patients. In this study, we present an update of testing results in a cohort of Argentinean non-syndromic hearing-impaired individuals. A total of 48 different sequence variants were detected in genomic DNA from patients referred to our laboratory. They were manually curated and classified based on the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics/Association for Molecular Pathology ACMG/AMP standards and hearing-loss-gene-specific criteria of the ClinGen Hearing Loss Expert Panel. More than 50% of sequence variants were reclassified from their previous categorization in ClinVar. These results provide an accurately interpreted set of variants to be taken into account by clinicians and the scientific community, and hence, aid the precise genetic counseling to patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Mouse Models of Human Pathogenic Variants of TBC1D24 Associated with Non-Syndromic Deafness DFNB86 and DFNA65 and Syndromes Involving Deafness
Genes 2020, 11(10), 1122; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11101122 - 24 Sep 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 929
Abstract
Human pathogenic variants of TBC1D24 are associated with clinically heterogeneous phenotypes, including recessive nonsyndromic deafness DFNB86, dominant nonsyndromic deafness DFNA65, seizure accompanied by deafness, a variety of isolated seizure phenotypes and DOORS syndrome, characterized by deafness, onychodystrophy, osteodystrophy, intellectual disability and seizures. Thirty-five [...] Read more.
Human pathogenic variants of TBC1D24 are associated with clinically heterogeneous phenotypes, including recessive nonsyndromic deafness DFNB86, dominant nonsyndromic deafness DFNA65, seizure accompanied by deafness, a variety of isolated seizure phenotypes and DOORS syndrome, characterized by deafness, onychodystrophy, osteodystrophy, intellectual disability and seizures. Thirty-five pathogenic variants of human TBC1D24 associated with deafness have been reported. However, functions of TBC1D24 in the inner ear and the pathophysiology of TBC1D24-related deafness are unknown. In this study, a novel splice-site variant of TBC1D24 c.965 + 1G > A in compound heterozygosity with c.641G > A p.(Arg214His) was found to be segregating in a Pakistani family. Affected individuals exhibited, either a deafness-seizure syndrome or nonsyndromic deafness. In human temporal bones, TBC1D24 immunolocalized in hair cells and spiral ganglion neurons, whereas in mouse cochlea, Tbc1d24 expression was detected only in spiral ganglion neurons. We engineered mouse models of DFNB86 p.(Asp70Tyr) and DFNA65 p.(Ser178Leu) nonsyndromic deafness and syndromic forms of deafness p.(His336Glnfs*12) that have the same pathogenic variants that were reported for human TBC1D24. Unexpectedly, no auditory dysfunction was detected in Tbc1d24 mutant mice, although homozygosity for some of the variants caused seizures or lethality. We provide some insightful supporting data to explain the phenotypic differences resulting from equivalent pathogenic variants of mouse Tbc1d24 and human TBC1D24. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Two Novel Pathogenic Variants Confirm RMND1 Causative Role in Perrault Syndrome with Renal Involvement
Genes 2020, 11(9), 1060; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11091060 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 818
Abstract
RMND1 (required for meiotic nuclear division 1 homolog) pathogenic variants are known to cause combined oxidative phosphorylation deficiency (COXPD11), a severe multisystem disorder. In one patient, a homozygous RMND1 pathogenic variant, with an established role in COXPD11, was associated with a Perrault-like syndrome. [...] Read more.
RMND1 (required for meiotic nuclear division 1 homolog) pathogenic variants are known to cause combined oxidative phosphorylation deficiency (COXPD11), a severe multisystem disorder. In one patient, a homozygous RMND1 pathogenic variant, with an established role in COXPD11, was associated with a Perrault-like syndrome. We performed a thorough clinical investigation and applied a targeted multigene hearing loss panel to reveal the cause of hearing loss, ovarian dysfunction (two cardinal features of Perrault syndrome) and chronic kidney disease in two adult female siblings. Two compound heterozygous missense variants, c.583G>A (p.Gly195Arg) and c.818A>C (p.Tyr273Ser), not previously associated with disease, were identified in RMND1 in both patients, and their segregation with disease was confirmed in family members. The patients have no neurological or intellectual impairment, and nephrological evaluation predicts a benign course of kidney disease. Our study presents the mildest, so far reported, RMND1-related phenotype and delivers the first independent confirmation that RMND1 is causally involved in the development of Perrault syndrome with renal involvement. This highlights the importance of including RMND1 to the list of Perrault syndrome causative factors and provides new insight into the clinical manifestation of RMND1 deficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
High Rates of Three Common GJB2 Mutations c.516G>C, c.-23+1G>A, c.235delC in Deaf Patients from Southern Siberia Are Due to the Founder Effect
Genes 2020, 11(7), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11070833 - 21 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1124
Abstract
The mutations in the GJB2 gene (13q12.11, MIM 121011) encoding transmembrane protein connexin 26 (Cx26) account for a significant portion of hereditary hearing loss worldwide. Earlier we found a high prevalence of recessive GJB2 mutations c.516G>C, c.-23+1G>A, c.235delC in indigenous Turkic-speaking Siberian peoples [...] Read more.
The mutations in the GJB2 gene (13q12.11, MIM 121011) encoding transmembrane protein connexin 26 (Cx26) account for a significant portion of hereditary hearing loss worldwide. Earlier we found a high prevalence of recessive GJB2 mutations c.516G>C, c.-23+1G>A, c.235delC in indigenous Turkic-speaking Siberian peoples (Tuvinians and Altaians) from the Tyva Republic and Altai Republic (Southern Siberia, Russia) and proposed the founder effect as a cause for their high rates in these populations. To reconstruct the haplotypes associated with each of these mutations, the genotyping of polymorphic genetic markers both within and flanking the GJB2 gene was performed in 28 unrelated individuals homozygous for c.516G>C (n = 18), c.-23+1G>A (n = 6), or c.235delC (n = 4) as well as in the ethnically matched controls (62 Tuvinians and 55 Altaians) without these mutations. The common haplotypes specific for mutations c.516G>C, c.-23+1G>A, or c.235delC were revealed implying a single origin of each of these mutations. The age of mutations estimated by the DMLE+ v2.3 software and the single marker method is discussed in relation to ethnic history of Tuvinians and Altaians. The data obtained in this study support a crucial role of the founder effect in the high prevalence of GJB2 mutations c.516G>C, c.-23+1G>A, c.235delC in indigenous populations of Southern Siberia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Article
Autosomal Dominantly Inherited GREB1L Variants in Individuals with Profound Sensorineural Hearing Impairment
Genes 2020, 11(6), 687; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11060687 - 23 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1296
Abstract
Congenital hearing impairment is a sensory disorder that is genetically highly heterogeneous. By performing exome sequencing in two families with congenital nonsyndromic profound sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), we identified autosomal dominantly inherited missense variants [p.(Asn283Ser); p.(Thr116Ile)] in GREB1L, a neural crest regulatory [...] Read more.
Congenital hearing impairment is a sensory disorder that is genetically highly heterogeneous. By performing exome sequencing in two families with congenital nonsyndromic profound sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), we identified autosomal dominantly inherited missense variants [p.(Asn283Ser); p.(Thr116Ile)] in GREB1L, a neural crest regulatory molecule. The p.(Thr116Ile) variant was also associated with bilateral cochlear aplasia and cochlear nerve aplasia upon temporal bone imaging, an ultra-rare phenotype previously seen in patients with de novo GREB1L variants. An important role of GREB1L in normal ear development has also been demonstrated by greb1l−/− zebrafish, which show an abnormal sensory epithelia innervation. Last, we performed a review of all disease-associated variation described in GREB1L, as it has also been implicated in renal, bladder and genital malformations. We show that the spectrum of features associated with GREB1L is broad, variable and with a high level of reduced penetrance, which is typically characteristic of neurocristopathies. So far, seven GREB1L variants (14%) have been associated with ear-related abnormalities. In conclusion, these results show that autosomal dominantly inherited variants in GREB1L cause profound SNHL. Furthermore, we provide an overview of the phenotypic spectrum associated with GREB1L variants and strengthen the evidence of the involvement of GREB1L in human hearing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Review

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Review
Systematic Review of Sequencing Studies and Gene Expression Profiling in Familial Meniere Disease
Genes 2020, 11(12), 1414; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11121414 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 728
Abstract
Familial Meniere Disease (FMD) is a rare inner ear disorder characterized by episodic vertigo associated with sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus and/or aural fullness. We conducted a systematic review to find sequencing studies segregating rare variants in FMD to obtain evidence to support candidate [...] Read more.
Familial Meniere Disease (FMD) is a rare inner ear disorder characterized by episodic vertigo associated with sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus and/or aural fullness. We conducted a systematic review to find sequencing studies segregating rare variants in FMD to obtain evidence to support candidate genes for MD. After evaluating the quality of the retrieved records, eight studies were selected to carry out a quantitative synthesis. These articles described 20 single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in 11 genes (FAM136A, DTNA, PRKCB, COCH, DPT, SEMA3D, STRC, HMX2, TMEM55B, OTOG and LSAMP), most of them in singular families—the exception being the OTOG gene. Furthermore, we analyzed the pathogenicity of each SNV and compared its allelic frequency with reference datasets to evaluate its role in the pathogenesis of FMD. By retrieving gene expression data in these genes from different databases, we could classify them according to their gene expression in neural or inner ear tissues. Finally, we evaluated the pattern of inheritance to conclude which genes show an autosomal dominant (AD) or autosomal recessive (AR) inheritance in FMD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Review
The Many Faces of DFNB9: Relating OTOF Variants to Hearing Impairment
Genes 2020, 11(12), 1411; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11121411 - 26 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 929
Abstract
The OTOF gene encodes otoferlin, a critical protein at the synapse of auditory sensory cells, the inner hair cells (IHCs). In the absence of otoferlin, signal transmission of IHCs fails due to impaired release of synaptic vesicles at the IHC synapse. Biallelic pathogenic [...] Read more.
The OTOF gene encodes otoferlin, a critical protein at the synapse of auditory sensory cells, the inner hair cells (IHCs). In the absence of otoferlin, signal transmission of IHCs fails due to impaired release of synaptic vesicles at the IHC synapse. Biallelic pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants in OTOF predominantly cause autosomal recessive profound prelingual deafness, DFNB9. Due to the isolated defect of synaptic transmission and initially preserved otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), the clinical characteristics have been termed “auditory synaptopathy”. We review the broad phenotypic spectrum reported in patients with variants in OTOF that includes milder hearing loss, as well as progressive and temperature-sensitive hearing loss. We highlight several challenges that must be addressed for rapid clinical and genetic diagnosis. Importantly, we call for changes in newborn hearing screening protocols, since OAE tests fail to diagnose deafness in this case. Continued research appears to be needed to complete otoferlin isoform expression characterization to enhance genetic diagnostics. This timely review is meant to sensitize the field to clinical characteristics of DFNB9 and current limitations in preparation for clinical trials for OTOF gene therapies that are projected to start in 2021. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Review
Molecular Mechanisms and Biological Functions of Autophagy for Genetics of Hearing Impairment
Genes 2020, 11(11), 1331; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11111331 - 11 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 691
Abstract
The etiology of hearing impairment following cochlear damage can be caused by many factors, including congenital or acquired onset, ototoxic drugs, noise exposure, and aging. Regardless of the many different etiologies, a common pathologic change is auditory cell death. It may be difficult [...] Read more.
The etiology of hearing impairment following cochlear damage can be caused by many factors, including congenital or acquired onset, ototoxic drugs, noise exposure, and aging. Regardless of the many different etiologies, a common pathologic change is auditory cell death. It may be difficult to explain hearing impairment only from the aspect of cell death including apoptosis, necrosis, or necroptosis because the level of hearing loss varies widely. Therefore, we focused on autophagy as an intracellular phenomenon functionally competing with cell death. Autophagy is a dynamic lysosomal degradation and recycling system in the eukaryotic cell, mandatory for controlling the balance between cell survival and cell death induced by cellular stress, and maintaining homeostasis of postmitotic cells, including hair cells (HCs) and spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) in the inner ear. Autophagy is considered a candidate for the auditory cell fate decision factor, whereas autophagy deficiency could be one of major causes of hearing impairment. In this paper, we review the molecular mechanisms and biologic functions of autophagy in the auditory system and discuss the latest research concerning autophagy-related genes and sensorineural hearing loss to gain insight into the role of autophagic mechanisms in inner-ear disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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Brief Report
Novel Mutations in CLPP, LARS2, CDH23, and COL4A5 Identified in Familial Cases of Prelingual Hearing Loss
Genes 2020, 11(9), 978; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11090978 - 22 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 852
Abstract
We report the underlying genetic causes of prelingual hearing loss (HL) segregating in eight large consanguineous families, ascertained from the Punjab province of Pakistan. Exome sequencing followed by segregation analysis revealed seven potentially pathogenic variants, including four novel alleles c.257G>A, c.6083A>C, c.89A>G, and [...] Read more.
We report the underlying genetic causes of prelingual hearing loss (HL) segregating in eight large consanguineous families, ascertained from the Punjab province of Pakistan. Exome sequencing followed by segregation analysis revealed seven potentially pathogenic variants, including four novel alleles c.257G>A, c.6083A>C, c.89A>G, and c.1249A>G of CLPP, CDH23, COL4A5, and LARS2, respectively. We also identified three previously reported HL-causing variants (c.4528C>T, c.35delG, and c.1219T>C) of MYO15A, GJB2, and TMPRSS3 segregating in four families. All identified variants were either absent or had very low frequencies in the control databases. Our in silico analyses and 3-dimensional (3D) molecular modeling support the deleterious impact of these variants on the encoded proteins. Variants identified in MYO15A, GJB2, TMPRSS3, and CDH23 were classified as “pathogenic” or “likely pathogenic”, while the variants in CLPP and LARS2 fall in the category of “uncertain significance” based on the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics/Association for Molecular Pathology (ACMG/AMP) variant pathogenicity guidelines. This paper highlights the genetic diversity of hearing disorders in the Pakistani population and reports the identification of four novel mutations in four HL families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Hearing Impairment)
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