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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 21;13(12):e0209797. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209797. eCollection 2018.

Unique spectra of deafness-associated mutations in Mongolians provide insights into the genetic relationships among Eurasian populations.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The EMJJ Otolaryngology Hospital, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Department of Otolaryngology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
Graduate Institute of Medical Genomics and Proteomics, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Otolaryngology, National Center for Maternal and Child Health, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Department of Medical Genetics, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


Genetic factors are an important cause of idiopathic sensorineural hearing impairment (SNHI). From the epidemiological perspective, mutations of three deafness genes: GJB2, SLC26A4, and MT-RNR1, are much more prevalent than those of other genes worldwide. However, mutation spectra of common deafness genes differ remarkably across different populations. Here, we performed comprehensive genetic examination and haplotype analyses in 188 unrelated Mongolian families with idiopathic SNHI, and compared their mutation spectra and haplotypes to those of other European and Asian cohorts. We confirmed genetic diagnoses in 18 (9.6%) of the 188 families, including 13 with bi-allelic GJB2 mutations, three with bi-allelic SLC26A4 mutations, and two with homoplasmic MT-RNR1 m.1555A>G mutation. Moreover, mono-allelic mutations were identified in 17 families (9.0%), including 14 with mono-allelic GJB2 mutations and three with mono-allelic SLC26A4 mutations. Interestingly, three GJB2 mutations prevalent in other populations, including c.35delG in Caucasians, c.235delC in East Asians, and c.-23+1G>A in Southwest and South Asians, were simultaneously detected in Mongolian patients. Haplotype analyses further confirmed founder effects for each of the three mutations, indicating that each mutation derived from its ancestral origin independently. By demonstrating the unique spectra of deafness-associated mutations, our findings may have important clinical and scientific implications for refining the molecular diagnostics of SNHI in Mongolian patients, and for elucidating the genetic relationships among Eurasian populations.

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