Mutations in the gene (GJB2) coding for Connexin 26 (Cx26) are responsible for genetic forms of sensorineural hearing loss. This article describes a family characterized by congenital profound hearing loss, inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion and associated to a R75Q substitution in Cx26. Cell transfection and fluorescence imaging, dye transfer experiments and dual patch clamp recording showed that the mutant completely prevents the formation of functional channels despite assembling into junctional plaques, in communication incompetent HeLa cells. The disease is not associated with palmar and plantar keratosis in any of the family members, suggesting that R75Q substitution is not sufficient for the development of the complete syndromic phenotype. The association of palmar and plantar keratosis with profound hearing loss may be dependent on genetic background, requiring a functional interaction between the mutated Cx26 and other epidermally expressed connexins.
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