Purpose: Pathogenic variants in GJB2 are the most common cause of autosomal recessive sensorineural hearing loss. The classification of c.101T>C/p.Met34Thr and c.109G>A/p.Val37Ile in GJB2 are controversial. Therefore, an expert consensus is required for the interpretation of these two variants.
Methods: The ClinGen Hearing Loss Expert Panel collected published data and shared unpublished information from contributing laboratories and clinics regarding the two variants. Functional, computational, allelic, and segregation data were also obtained. Case-control statistical analyses were performed.
Results: The panel reviewed the synthesized information, and classified the p.Met34Thr and p.Val37Ile variants utilizing professional variant interpretation guidelines and professional judgment. We found that p.Met34Thr and p.Val37Ile are significantly overrepresented in hearing loss patients, compared with population controls. Individuals homozygous or compound heterozygous for p.Met34Thr or p.Val37Ile typically manifest mild to moderate hearing loss. Several other types of evidence also support pathogenic roles for these two variants.
Conclusion: Resolving controversies in variant classification requires coordinated effort among a panel of international multi-institutional experts to share data, standardize classification guidelines, review evidence, and reach a consensus. We concluded that p.Met34Thr and p.Val37Ile variants in GJB2 are pathogenic for autosomal recessive nonsyndromic hearing loss with variable expressivity and incomplete penetrance.
Keywords: ClinGen; hearing loss; incomplete penetrance; variant classification; variant interpretation.