Clarin-2 gene supplementation durably preserves hearing in a model of progressive hearing loss

Mol Ther. 2024 Mar 6;32(3):800-817. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2024.01.021. Epub 2024 Jan 18.


Hearing loss is a major health concern affecting millions of people worldwide with currently limited treatment options. In clarin-2-deficient Clrn2-/- mice, used here as a model of progressive hearing loss, we report synaptic auditory abnormalities in addition to the previously demonstrated defects of hair bundle structure and mechanoelectrical transduction. We sought an in-depth evaluation of viral-mediated gene delivery as a therapy for these hearing-impaired mice. Supplementation with either the murine Clrn2 or human CLRN2 genes preserved normal hearing in treated Clrn2-/- mice. Conversely, mutated forms of CLRN2, identified in patients with post-lingual moderate to severe hearing loss, failed to prevent hearing loss. The ectopic expression of clarin-2 successfully prevented the loss of stereocilia, maintained normal mechanoelectrical transduction, preserved inner hair cell synaptic function, and ensured near-normal hearing thresholds over time. Maximal hearing preservation was observed when Clrn2 was delivered prior to the loss of transducing stereocilia. Our findings demonstrate that gene therapy is effective for the treatment of post-lingual hearing impairment and age-related deafness associated with CLRN2 patient mutations.

Keywords: clarin-2; gene therapy; progressive hearing loss.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Hair Cells, Auditory* / metabolism
  • Hearing
  • Hearing Loss* / genetics
  • Hearing Loss* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Stereocilia / metabolism