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Open Access Research article

A novel WFS1 mutation in a family with dominant low frequency sensorineural hearing loss with normal VEMP and EcochG findings

Naomi F Bramhall1, Jeremy C Kallman2, Aimee M Verrall2 and Valerie A Street2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

2 V.M. Bloedel Hearing Research Center, Otolaryngology – HNS Department, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

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BMC Medical Genetics 2008, 9:48  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-9-48

Published: 2 June 2008

Abstract

Background

Low frequency sensorineural hearing loss (LFSNHL) is an uncommon clinical finding. Mutations within three different identified genes (DIAPH1, MYO7A, and WFS1) are known to cause LFSNHL. The majority of hereditary LFSNHL is associated with heterozygous mutations in the WFS1 gene (wolframin protein). The goal of this study was to use genetic analysis to determine if a small American family's hereditary LFSNHL is linked to a mutation in the WFS1 gene and to use VEMP and EcochG testing to further characterize the family's audiovestibular phenotype.

Methods

The clinical phenotype of the American family was characterized by audiologic testing, vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP), and electrocochleography (EcochG) evaluation. Genetic characterization was performed by microsatellite analysis and direct sequencing of WFS1 for mutation detection.

Results

Sequence analysis of the WFS1 gene revealed a novel heterozygous mutation at c.2054G>C predicting a p.R685P amino acid substitution in wolframin. The c.2054G>C mutation segregates faithfully with hearing loss in the family and is absent in 230 control chromosomes. The p.R685 residue is located within the hydrophilic C-terminus of wolframin and is conserved across species. The VEMP and EcochG findings were normal in individuals segregating the WFS1 c.2054G>C mutation.

Conclusion

We discovered a novel heterozygous missense mutation in exon 8 of WFS1 predicting a p.R685P amino acid substitution that is likely to underlie the LFSNHL phenotype in the American family. For the first time, we describe VEMP and EcochG findings for individuals segregating a heterozygous WFS1 mutation.