Purpose: It has been demonstrated that mutations in deafness, autosomal recessive 31 (DFNB31), the gene encoding whirlin, is responsible for nonsyndromic hearing loss (NSHL; DFNB31) and Usher syndrome type II (USH2D). We screened DFNB31 in a large cohort of patients with different clinical subtypes of Usher syndrome (USH) to determine the prevalence of DFNB31 mutations among USH patients.
Methods: DFNB31 was screened in 149 USH2, 29 USH1, six atypical USH, and 11 unclassified USH patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Mutation detection was performed by direct sequencing of all coding exons.
Results: We identified 38 different variants among 195 patients. Most variants were clearly polymorphic, but at least two out of the 15 nonsynonymous variants (p.R350W and p.R882S) are predicted to impair whirlin structure and function, suggesting eventual pathogenicity. No putatively pathogenic mutation was found in the second allele of patients with these mutations.
Conclusions: DFNB31 is not a major cause of USH.