In a large consanguineous Turkish kindred with recessive nonsyndromic, prelingual, profound hearing loss, we identified in the gene FAM65B (MIM611410) a splice site mutation (c.102-1G>A) that perfectly cosegregates with the phenotype in the family. The mutation leads to exon skipping and deletion of 52-amino acid residues of a PX membrane localization domain. FAM65B is known to be involved in myotube formation and in regulation of cell adhesion, polarization, and migration. We show that wild-type Fam65b is expressed during embryonic and postnatal development stages in murine cochlea, and that the protein localizes to the plasma membranes of the stereocilia of inner and outer hair cells of the inner ear. The wild-type protein targets the plasma membrane, whereas the mutant protein accumulates in cytoplasmic inclusion bodies and does not reach the membrane. In zebrafish, knockdown of fam65b leads to significant reduction of numbers of saccular hair cells and neuromasts and to hearing loss. We conclude that FAM65B is a plasma membrane-associated protein of hair cell stereocilia that is essential for hearing.
Keywords: Mendelian disorder; congenital; deafness; sensorineural; whole-exome sequencing.