Characterising the spectrum of autosomal recessive hereditary hearing loss in Iran

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Abstract

Background

Countries with culturally accepted consanguinity provide a unique resource for the study of rare recessively inherited genetic diseases. Although hereditary hearing loss (HHL) is not uncommon, it is genetically heterogeneous, with over 85 genes causally implicated in non-syndromic hearing loss (NSHL). This heterogeneity makes many gene-specific types of NSHL exceedingly rare. We sought to define the spectrum of autosomal recessive HHL in Iran by investigating both common and rarely diagnosed deafness-causing genes.

Design

Using a custom targeted genomic enrichment (TGE) panel, we simultaneously interrogated all known genetic causes of NSHL in a cohort of 302 GJB2-negative Iranian families.

Results

We established a genetic diagnosis for 67% of probands and their families, with over half of all diagnoses attributable to variants in five genes: SLC26A4, MYO15A, MYO7A, CDH23 and PCDH15. As a reflection of the power of consanguinity mapping, 26 genes were identified as causative for NSHL in the Iranian population for the first time. In total, 179 deafness-causing variants were identified in 40 genes in 201 probands, including 110 novel single nucleotide or small insertion–deletion variants and three novel CNV. Several variants represent founder mutations.

Conclusion

This study attests to the power of TGE and massively parallel sequencing as a diagnostic tool for the evaluation of hearing loss in Iran, and expands on our understanding of the genetics of HHL in this country. Families negative for variants in the genes represented on this panel represent an excellent cohort for novel gene discovery.

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