Molecular genetics of hearing loss

Annu Rev Genet. 2001:35:589-646. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.35.102401.091224.


Hereditary isolated hearing loss is genetically highly heterogeneous. Over 100 genes are predicted to cause this disorder in humans. Sixty loci have been reported and 24 genes underlying 28 deafness forms have been identified. The present epistemic stage in the realm consists in a preliminary characterization of the encoded proteins and the associated defective biological processes. Since for several of the deafness forms we still only have fuzzy notions of their pathogenesis, we here adopt a presentation of the various deafness forms based on the site of the primary defect: hair cell defects, nonsensory cell defects, and tectorial membrane anomalies. The various deafness forms so far studied appear as monogenic disorders. They are all rare with the exception of one, caused by mutations in the gene encoding the gap junction protein connexin26, which accounts for between one third to one half of the cases of prelingual inherited deafness in Caucasian populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Connexin 26
  • Connexins
  • Deafness / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice


  • Connexins
  • GJB2 protein, human
  • Connexin 26