Identification of TMC1 as a relatively common cause for nonsyndromic hearing loss in the Saudi population

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2020 Apr;183(3):172-180. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32774. Epub 2019 Dec 19.


Hearing loss (HL) is the most common sensory disorder worldwide and genetic factors contribute to approximately half of congenital HL cases. HL is subject to extensive genetic heterogeneity, rendering molecular diagnosis difficult. Mutations of the transmembrane channel-like 1 (TMC1) gene cause hearing defects in humans and mice. The precise function of TMC1 protein in the inner ear is unknown, although it is predicted to be involved in functional maturation of cochlear hair cells. TMC1 mutations result in autosomal recessive (DFNB7/11) and sometimes dominant (DFNA36) nonsyndromic HL. Mutations in TMC1 are responsible for a significant portion of HL, particularly in consanguineous populations. To evaluate the importance of TMC1 mutations in the Saudi population, we used a combination of autozygome-guided candidate gene mutation analysis and targeted next generation sequencing in 366 families with HL previously shown to lack mutations in GJB2. We identified 12 families that carried five causative TMC1 mutations; including three novel (c.362+3A > G; c.758C > T [p.Ser253Phe]; c.1396_1398delACC [p.Asn466del]) and two reported mutations (c.100C > T [p.Arg34Ter]; c.1714G > A [p.Asp572Asn]). Each of the identified recessive mutation was classified as severe, by both age of onset and severity of HL. Similarly, consistent with the previously reported dominant variant p.Asp572Asn, the HL phenotype was progressive. Eight families in our cohort were found to share the pathogenic p.Arg34Ter mutation and linkage disequilibrium was observed between p.Arg34Ter and SNPs investigated. Our results indicate that TMC1 mutations account for about 3.3% (12/366) of Saudi HL cases and that the recurrent TMC1 mutation p.Arg34Ter is likely to be a founder mutation.

Keywords: TMC1; Saudi Arabia; consanguinity; hearing loss; mutation; transmembrane channel like 1 gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Ear, Inner / metabolism
  • Exons
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Young Adult


  • Membrane Proteins
  • TMC1 protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • Deafness, Autosomal Dominant 36
  • Deafness, Autosomal Recessive 7