We have recently reported that OTOF underlies an autosomal recessive form of prelingual sensorineural deafness, DFNB9. The isolated 5-kb cDNA predicted a 1,230 amino acid (aa) C-terminus membrane-anchored cytosolic protein with three C2 domains. This protein belongs to a family of mammalian proteins sharing homology with the Caenorhabditis elegans fer-1. The two other known members of this family, dysferlin and myoferlin, both have six predicted C2 domains. By northern blot analysis, a 7-kb otoferlin mRNA could be detected in the human brain. We isolated the corresponding cDNA, which is expected to encode a 1,977-aa-long form of otoferlin with six C2 domains. A 7-kb cDNA derived from the murine orthologous gene, Otof, was also identified in the inner ear and the brain. The determination of the exon-intron structure of the human and murine genes showed that they are composed of 48 coding exons and extend ˜90 kb and ˜80 kb, respectively. Alternatively spliced transcripts could be detected that predict several long isoforms (six C2 domains) in humans and mice and short isoforms (three C2 domains) only in humans. Primers were designed to explore the first 19 OTOF exons, henceforth permitting exploration of the complete coding sequence of the gene in DFNB9 patients. In a southwestern Indian family affected by DFNB9, a mutation in the acceptor splice site of intron 8 was detected, which demonstrates that the long otoferlin isoforms are required for inner ear function.
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