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Physiol Genomics. 2009 Nov 6;39(3):195-201. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00100.2009. Epub 2009 Aug 11.

Clinical and molecular characterizations of novel POU3F4 mutations reveal that DFN3 is due to null function of POU3F4 protein.

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1
Department of Biology, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea.

Abstract

X-linked deafness type 3 (DFN3), the most prevalent X-linked form of hereditary deafness, is caused by mutations in the POU3F4 locus, which encodes a member of the POU family of transcription factors. Despite numerous reports on clinical evaluations and genetic analyses describing novel POU3F4 mutations, little is known about how such mutations affect normal functions of the POU3F4 protein and cause inner ear malformations and deafness. Here we describe three novel mutations of the POU3F4 gene and their clinical characterizations in three Korean families carrying deafness segregating at the DFN3 locus. The three mutations cause a substitution (p.Arg329Pro) or a deletion (p.Ser310del) of highly conserved amino acid residues in the POU homeodomain or a truncation that eliminates both DNA-binding domains (p.Ala116fs). In an attempt to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying their inner ear defects, we examined the behavior of the normal and mutant forms of the POU3F4 protein in C3H/10T1/2 mesodermal cells. Protein modeling as well as in vitro assays demonstrated that these mutations are detrimental to the tertiary structure of the POU3F4 protein and severely affect its ability to bind DNA. All three mutated POU3F4 proteins failed to transactivate expression of a reporter gene. In addition, all three failed to inhibit the transcriptional activity of wild-type proteins when both wild-type and mutant proteins were coexpressed. Since most of the mutations reported for DFN3 thus far are associated with regions that encode the DNA binding domains of POU3F4, our results strongly suggest that the deafness in DFN3 patients is largely due to the null function of POU3F4.

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