Genes that are primarily expressed in cochlear glia-like supporting cells (GLSs) have not been clearly associated with progressive deafness. Herein, we present a deafness locus mapped to chromosome 3p25.1 and an auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD) gene, TMEM43, mainly expressed in GLSs. We identify p.(Arg372Ter) of TMEM43 by linkage analysis and exome sequencing in two large Asian families segregating ANSD, which is characterized by inability to discriminate speech despite preserved sensitivity to sound. The knock-in mouse with the p.(Arg372Ter) variant recapitulates a progressive hearing loss with histological abnormalities in GLSs. Mechanistically, TMEM43 interacts with the Connexin26 and Connexin30 gap junction channels, disrupting the passive conductance current in GLSs in a dominant-negative fashion when the p.(Arg372Ter) variant is introduced. Based on these mechanistic insights, cochlear implant was performed on three subjects, and speech discrimination was successfully restored. Our study highlights a pathological role of cochlear GLSs by identifying a deafness gene and its causal relationship with ANSD.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 1 2021|
- Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder
- Glia-like supporting cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas