The genetic basis of deafness in populations of African descent

Jason R. Rudman, Rosemary I. Kabahuma, Sara E. Bressler, Yong Feng, Susan H. Blanton, Denise Yan, Xue Zhong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hearing loss is the most common sensorineural disorder worldwide and is associated with more than 1000 mutations in more than 90 genes. While mutations in genes such as GJB2 (gap-junction protein β 2) and GJB6 (gap-junction protein β 6) are highly prevalent in Caucasian, Asian, and Middle Eastern populations, they are rare in both native African populations and those of African descent. The objective of this paper is to review the current knowledge regarding the epidemiology and genetics of hearing loss in African populations with a focus on native sub-Saharan African populations. Environmental etiologies related to poor access to healthcare and perinatal care account for the majority of cases. Syndromic etiologies including Waardenburg, Pendred and Usher syndromes are uncommon causes of hearing loss in these populations. Of the non-syndromic causes, common mutations in GJB2 and GJB6 are rarely implicated in populations of African descent. Recent use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has identified several candidate deafness genes in African populations from Nigeria and South Africa that are unique when compared to common causative mutations worldwide. Researchers also recently described a dominant mutation in MYO3a in an African American family with non-syndromic hearing loss. The use of NGS and specialized panels will aid in identifying rare and novel mutations in a more cost- and time-effective manner. The identification of common hearing loss mutations in indigenous African populations will pave the way for translation into genetic deafness research in populations of African descent worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-294
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Genetics and Genomics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 20 2017


  • African
  • Deafness
  • Genetic
  • Hearing loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'The genetic basis of deafness in populations of African descent'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this