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THOC1 deficiency leads to late-onset nonsyndromic hearing loss through p53-mediated hair cell apoptosis

By Luping Zhang, Yu Gao, Ru Zhang, Feifei Sun, Cheng Cheng, Fuping Qian, Xuchu Duan, Guanyun Wei, Xiuhong Pang, Penghui Chen, Renjie Chai, Tao Yang, Hao Wu, dong liu

Posted 30 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/719823 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008953)

Apoptosis of cochlear hair cells is a key step towards age-related hearing loss. Although numerous genes have been implicated in the genetic causes of late-onset, progressive hearing loss, few show direct links to the proapoptotic process. By genome-wide linkage analysis and whole exome sequencing, we identified a heterozygous p.L183V variant in THOC1 as the probable cause of the late-onset, progressive, non-syndromic hearing loss in a large dominant family. Thoc1, a member of the THO/TREX ribonucleoprotein complex, is highly expressed in mouse and zebrafish hair cells. The Thoc1 mutant zebrafish lacks the C-startle response, indicative of the hearing dysfunction. Both Thoc1 mutant and knockdown zebrafish have greatly reduced hair cell numbers, while the latter can be rescued by embryonic microinjection of human wild-type THOC1 mRNA but to significantly lesser degree by the p.L183V mutant mRNA. The Thoc1 deficiency resulted in marked apoptosis in zebrafish hair cells. Blocking p53 significantly rescued the hair cell loss in the Thoc1 knockdown zebrafish. Our results suggested that THOC1 deficiency lead to late-onset, progressive hearing loss through p53-mediated hair cell apoptosis.

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