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1.  OSBPL2 encodes a protein of inner and outer hair cell stereocilia and is mutated in autosomal dominant hearing loss (DFNA67) 
Background
Early-onset hearing loss is mostly of genetic origin. The complexity of the hearing process is reflected by its extensive genetic heterogeneity, with probably many causative genes remaining to be identified. Here, we aimed at identifying the genetic basis for autosomal dominant non-syndromic hearing loss (ADNSHL) in a large German family.
Methods
A panel of 66 known deafness genes was analyzed for mutations by next-generation sequencing (NGS) in the index patient. We then conducted genome-wide linkage analysis, and whole-exome sequencing was carried out with samples of two patients. Expression of Osbpl2 in the mouse cochlea was determined by immunohistochemistry. Because Osbpl2 has been proposed as a target of miR-96, we investigated homozygous Mir96 mutant mice for its upregulation.
Results
Onset of hearing loss in the investigated ADNSHL family is in childhood, initially affecting the high frequencies and progressing to profound deafness in adulthood. However, there is considerable intrafamilial variability. We mapped a novel ADNSHL locus, DFNA67, to chromosome 20q13.2-q13.33, and subsequently identified a co-segregating heterozygous frameshift mutation, c.141_142delTG (p.Arg50Alafs*103), in OSBPL2, encoding a protein known to interact with the DFNA1 protein, DIAPH1. In mice, Osbpl2 was prominently expressed in stereocilia of cochlear outer and inner hair cells. We found no significant Osbpl2 upregulation at the mRNA level in homozygous Mir96 mutant mice.
Conclusion
The function of OSBPL2 in the hearing process remains to be determined. Our study and the recent description of another frameshift mutation in a Chinese ADNSHL family identify OSBPL2 as a novel gene for progressive deafness.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13023-015-0238-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13023-015-0238-5
PMCID: PMC4334766
OSBPL2; DFNA67; Autosomal dominant hearing loss
2.  Expression and Replication Studies to Identify New Candidate Genes Involved in Normal Hearing Function 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85352.
Considerable progress has been made in identifying deafness genes, but still little is known about the genetic basis of normal variation in hearing function. We recently carried out a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) of quantitative hearing traits in southern European populations and found several SNPs with suggestive but none with significant association. In the current study, we followed up these SNPs to investigate which of them might show a genuine association with auditory function using alternative approaches. Firstly, we generated a shortlist of 19 genes from the published GWAS results. Secondly, we carried out immunocytochemistry to examine expression of these 19 genes in the mouse inner ear. Twelve of them showed distinctive cochlear expression patterns. Four showed expression restricted to sensory hair cells (Csmd1, Arsg, Slc16a6 and Gabrg3), one only in marginal cells of the stria vascularis (Dclk1) while the others (Ptprd, Grm8, GlyBP, Evi5, Rimbp2, Ank2, Cdh13) in multiple cochlear cell types. In the third step, we tested these 12 genes for replication of association in an independent set of samples from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Nine out of them showed nominally significant association (p<0.05). In particular, 4 were replicated at the same SNP and with the same effect direction while the remaining 5 showed a significant association in a gene-based test. Finally, to look for genotype-phenotype relationship, the audiometric profiles of the three genotypes of the most strongly associated gene variants were analyzed. Seven out of the 9 replicated genes (CDH13, GRM8, ANK2, SLC16A6, ARSG, RIMBP2 and DCLK1) showed an audiometric pattern with differences between different genotypes further supporting their role in hearing function. These data demonstrate the usefulness of this multistep approach in providing new insights into the molecular basis of hearing and may suggest new targets for treatment and prevention of hearing impairment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085352
PMCID: PMC3891868  PMID: 24454846
3.  Specific expression of Kcna10, Pxn and Odf2 in the organ of Corti 
Gene Expression Patterns  2012;12(5-6):172-179.
Highlights
► We studied the expression of Pxn, Kcna10 and Odf2 in the developing mouse inner ear. ► We covered several ages between E14.5 and P5, and also looked at adults. ► Pxn is a focal adhesion protein expressed strongly in pillar cells. ► Kcna10 is a potassium channel expressed in hair cells. ► Odf2 (Cenexin) marks dendrites extending to and contacting hair cells.
The development of the organ of Corti and the highly specialized cells required for hearing involves a multitude of genes, many of which remain unknown. Here we describe the expression pattern of three genes not previously studied in the inner ear in mice at a range of ages both embryonic and early postnatal. Kcna10, a tetrameric Shaker-like potassium channel, is expressed strongly in the hair cells themselves. Odf2, as its centriolar isoform Cenexin, marks the dendrites extending to and contacting hair cells, and Pxn, a focal adhesion scaffold protein, is most strongly expressed in pillar cells during the ages studied. The roles of these genes are yet to be elucidated, but their specific expression patterns imply potential functional significance in the inner ear.
doi:10.1016/j.gep.2012.03.001
PMCID: PMC3368262  PMID: 22446089
Odf2; Cenexin; Pxn; Kcna10; Inner ear
4.  Exome sequencing identifies a missense mutation in Isl1 associated with low penetrance otitis media in dearisch mice 
Genome Biology  2011;12(9):R90.
Background
Inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media) is very common and can lead to serious complications if not resolved. Genetic studies suggest an inherited component, but few of the genes that contribute to this condition are known. Mouse mutants have contributed significantly to the identification of genes predisposing to otitis media
Results
The dearisch mouse mutant is an ENU-induced mutant detected by its impaired Preyer reflex (ear flick in response to sound). Auditory brainstem responses revealed raised thresholds from as early as three weeks old. Pedigree analysis suggested a dominant but partially penetrant mode of inheritance. The middle ear of dearisch mutants shows a thickened mucosa and cellular effusion suggesting chronic otitis media with effusion with superimposed acute infection. The inner ear, including the sensory hair cells, appears normal. Due to the low penetrance of the phenotype, normal backcross mapping of the mutation was not possible. Exome sequencing was therefore employed to identify a non-conservative tyrosine to cysteine (Y71C) missense mutation in the Islet1 gene, Isl1Drsh. Isl1 is expressed in the normal middle ear mucosa. The findings suggest the Isl1Drshmutation is likely to predispose carriers to otitis media.
Conclusions
Dearisch, Isl1Drsh, represents the first point mutation in the mouse Isl1 gene and suggests a previously unrecognized role for this gene. It is also the first recorded exome sequencing of the C3HeB/FeJ background relevant to many ENU-induced mutants. Most importantly, the power of exome resequencing to identify ENU-induced mutations without a mapped gene locus is illustrated.
doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-9-r90
PMCID: PMC3308053  PMID: 21936904
5.  A missense mutation in Fgfr1 causes ear and skull defects in hush puppy mice 
Mammalian Genome  2011;22(5-6):290-305.
The hush puppy mouse mutant has been shown previously to have skull and outer, middle, and inner ear defects, and an increase in hearing threshold. The fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (Fgfr1) gene is located in the region of chromosome 8 containing the mutation. Sequencing of the gene in hush puppy heterozygotes revealed a missense mutation in the kinase domain of the protein (W691R). Homozygotes were found to die during development, at approximately embryonic day 8.5, and displayed a phenotype similar to null mutants. Reverse transcription PCR indicated a decrease in Fgfr1 transcript in heterozygotes and homozygotes. Generation of a construct containing the mutation allowed the function of the mutated receptor to be studied. Immunocytochemistry showed that the mutant receptor protein was present at the cell membrane, suggesting normal expression and trafficking. Measurements of changes in intracellular calcium concentration showed that the mutated receptor could not activate the IP3 pathway, in contrast to the wild-type receptor, nor could it initiate activation of the Ras/MAP kinase pathway. Thus, the hush puppy mutation in fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 appears to cause a loss of receptor function. The mutant protein appears to have a dominant negative effect, which could be due to it dimerising with the wild-type protein and inhibiting its activity, thus further reducing the levels of functional protein. A dominant modifier, Mhspy, which reduces the effect of the hush puppy mutation on pinna and stapes development, has been mapped to the distal end of chromosome 7 and may show imprinting.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00335-011-9324-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00335-011-9324-8
PMCID: PMC3099004  PMID: 21479780
6.  MicroRNAs in mouse development and disease 
MicroRNAs, small non-coding RNAs which act as repressors of target genes, were discovered in 1993, and since then have been shown to play important roles in the development of numerous systems. Consistent with this role, they are also implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple diseases. Here we review the involvement of microRNAs in mouse development and disease, with particular reference to deafness as an example.
doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2010.02.004
PMCID: PMC2938480  PMID: 20152923
MicroRNA; Mouse mutants; Disease models; Disease mechanisms
7.  An ENU-induced mutation of miR-96 associated with progressive hearing loss in mice 
Nature genetics  2009;41(5):614-618.
Progressive hearing loss is common in the human population, but little is known about the molecular basis. We report a new ENU-induced mouse mutant, diminuendo, with a single base change in the seed region of Mirn96. Heterozygotes show progressive loss of hearing and hair cell anomalies, while homozygotes have no cochlear responses. Most microRNAs are believed to downregulate target genes by binding to specific sites on their mRNAs, so mutation of the seed should lead to target gene upregulation. Microarray analysis revealed 96 transcripts with significantly altered expression in homozygotes; notably, Slc26a5, oncomodulin, Gfi1, Ptprq and Pitpnm1 were downregulated. Hypergeometric p-value analysis showed hundreds of genes were upregulated in mutants. Different genes, with target sites complementary to the mutant seed, were downregulated. This is the first microRNA found associated with deafness, and diminuendo represents a model for understanding and potentially moderating progressive hair cell degeneration in hearing loss more generally.
doi:10.1038/ng.369
PMCID: PMC2705913  PMID: 19363478
8.  A reduction in Ptprq associated with specific features of the deafness phenotype of the miR-96 mutant mouse diminuendo 
miR-96 is a microRNA, a non-coding RNA gene which regulates a wide array of downstream genes. The miR-96 mouse mutant diminuendo exhibits deafness and arrested hair cell functional and morphological differentiation. We have previously shown that several genes are markedly downregulated in the diminuendo organ of Corti; one of these is Ptprq, a gene known to be important for maturation and maintenance of hair cells. In order to study the contribution that downregulation of Ptprq makes to the diminuendo phenotype, we carried out microarrays, scanning electron microscopy and single hair cell electrophysiology to compare diminuendo mutants (heterozygous and homozygous) with mice homozygous for a functional null allele of Ptprq. In terms of both morphology and electrophysiology, the auditory phenotype of mice lacking Ptprq resembles that of diminuendo heterozygotes, while diminuendo homozygotes are more severely affected. A comparison of transcriptomes indicates there is a broad similarity between diminuendo homozygotes and Ptprq-null mice. The reduction in Ptprq observed in diminuendo mice appears to be a major contributor to the morphological, transcriptional and electrophysiological phenotype, but does not account for the complete diminuendo phenotype.
doi:10.1111/ejn.12484
PMCID: PMC4065360  PMID: 24446963
ear development; hereditary hearing loss; knockout and transgenic m; molecular genetics; sensory hair cells

Results 1-8 (8)