Genetic analysis of SLC26A4 gene (pendrin) related deafness among a cohort of assortative mating families from southern India.

Assortative mating (AM) or preferential mating is known to influence the genetic architecture of the hearing-impaired (HI) population. AM is now seen as a universal phenomenon with individuals seeking partners based on quantitative, qualitative, and behavioral phenotypes.

However, the molecular genetic dynamics of AM among the HI tested in real time are limited to the DFNB1 locus.A total of 113 HI partners from 82 South Indian families (52 deaf marrying deaf and 30 deaf marrying normal), previously excluded for DFNB1 (GJB2/6) etiology, were screened for SLC26A4 gene (DFNB4) variants.A spectrum of seven pathogenic variants viz., p.S90L, p.V239D, p.V359E, p.Gly389Trpfs*79 (novel), p.T410M, p.N457K and p.K715N were identified.

The pathogenic allele frequency of SLC26A4 variants identified in this study was 3.98% (9/226).We recommend a preliminary screening of mutational hotspots for future investigations to rapidly test for its recurrence among South Indian HI population. This will be the first study to comprehensively account for the incidence of SLC26A4 gene variants and the real-time dynamics of DFNB4 variants among this type of a HI cohort.

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