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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21665. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021665. Epub 2011 Jun 29.

Allele-specific impairment of GJB2 expression by GJB6 deletion del(GJB6-D13S1854).

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Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, United States of America.


Mutations in the GJB2 gene, which encodes connexin 26, are a frequent cause of congenital non-syndromic sensorineural hearing loss. Two large deletions, del(GJB6-D13S1830) and del(GJB6-D13S1854), which truncate GJB6 (connexin 30), cause hearing loss in individuals homozygous, or compound heterozygous for these deletions or one such deletion and a mutation in GJB2. Recently, we have demonstrated that the del(GJB6-D13S1830) deletion contributes to hearing loss due to an allele-specific lack of GJB2 mRNA expression and not as a result of digenic inheritance, as was postulated earlier. In the current study we investigated the smaller del(GJB6-D13S1854) deletion, which disrupts the expression of GJB2 at the transcriptional level in a manner similar to the more common del(GJB6-D13S1830) deletion. Interestingly, in the presence of this deletion, GJB2 expression remains minimally but reproducibly present. The relative allele-specific expression of GJB2 was assessed by reverse-transcriptase PCR and restriction digestions in three probands who were compound heterozygous for a GJB2 mutation and del(GJB6-D13S1854). Each individual carried a different sequence variant in GJB2. All three individuals expressed the mutated GJB2 allele in trans with del(GJB6-D13S1854), but expression of the GJB2 allele in cis with the deletion was almost absent. Our study clearly corroborates the hypothesis that the del(GJB6-D13S1854), similar to the larger and more common del(GJB6-D13S1830), removes (a) putative cis-regulatory element(s) upstream of GJB6 and narrows down the region of location.

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