This study investigated the genetic basis for Usher syndrome type 1 (USH1) in four consanguineous Israeli Arab families.
Haplotype analysis for all known USH1 loci was performed in each family. In families for which haplotype analysis was inconclusive, we performed genome-wide homozygosity mapping using a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array. For mutation analysis, specific primers were used to PCR amplify the coding exons of the MYO7A, USH1C, and USH1G genes including intron-exon boundaries. Mutation screening was performed with direct sequencing.
A combination of haplotype analysis and genome-wide homozygosity mapping indicated linkage to the USH1B locus in two families, USH1C in one family and USH1G in another family. Sequence analysis of the relevant genes (MYO7A, USH1C, and USH1G) led to the identification of pathogenic mutations in all families. Two of the identified mutations are novel (c.1135–1147dup in MYO7A and c.206–207insC in USH1G).
USH1 is a genetically heterogenous condition. Of the five USH1 genes identified to date, USH1C and USH1G are the rarest contributors to USH1 etiology worldwide. It is therefore interesting that two of the four Israeli Arab families reported here have mutations in these two genes. This finding further demonstrates the unique genetic structure of the Israeli population in general, and the Israeli Arab population in particular, which due to high rates of consanguinity segregates many rare autosomal recessive genetic conditions.