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BMC Med Genet. 2010 Sep 7;11:129. doi: 10.1186/1471-2350-11-129.

A six-generation Chinese family in haplogroup B4C1C exhibits high penetrance of 1555A > G-induced hearing Loss.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Eye & ENT Hospital, Fudan University, 83 Fenyang Road, Shanghai 200031, China.



The 1555A > G mutation is the most common cause of aminoglycoside-induced and non-syndromic deafness. However, the variable clinical phenotype and incomplete penetrance of A1555G-induced hearing loss complicate our understanding of this mutation. Environmental factors, nuclear genes, mitochondrial haplotypes/variants and a possible threshold effect have been reported to may be involved in its manifestation.


Here, we performed a clinical, molecular, genetic and phylogenic analysis in a six-generation Chinese family.


A clinical evaluation revealed that affected individuals without aminoglycoside exposure developed hearing loss extending gradually from 12000 Hz to 8000 Hz and then to 4000 Hz. Using pyrosequencing, we detected an identical homoplasmic 1555A > G mutation in all individuals except one. We did not find any correlation between the mutation load and the severity of hearing loss. T123N coexisted with the 1555A > G mutation in six affected subjects in our pedigree. Analysis of the complete mtDNA genome of this family revealed that this family belonged to haplotype B4C1C and exhibited high penetrance. Upon the inclusion of subjects that had been exposed to aminoglycosides, the penetrance of the hearing loss was 63.6%.; without exposure to aminoglycosides, it was 51.5%. This pedigree and another reported Chinese pedigree share the same haplotype (B4C1C) and lack functionally significant mitochondrial tRNA variants, but nevertheless they exhibit a different penetrance of hearing loss.


Our results imply that the factors responsible for the higher penetrance and variable expression of the deafness associated with the 1555A > G mutation in this pedigree may not be mtDNA haplotype/variants, but rather nuclear genes and/or aminoglycosides.

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