Approximately 50% of childhood deafness is caused by mutations in specific genes. Autosomal recessive loci account for approximately 80% of nonsyndromic genetic deafness. Here we report the identification of a new transmembrane serine protease (TMPRSS3; also known as ECHOS1) expressed in many tissues, including fetal cochlea, which is mutated in the families used to describe both the DFNB10 and DFNB8 loci. An 8-bp deletion and insertion of 18 monomeric (∼68-bp) β-satellite repeat units, normally present in tandem arrays of up to several hundred kilobases on the short arms of acrocentric chromosomes, causes congenital deafness (DFNB10). A mutation in a splice-acceptor site, resulting in a 4-bp insertion in the mRNA and a frameshift, was detected in childhood onset deafness (DFNB8). This is the first description of β-satellite insertion into an active gene resulting in a pathogenic state, and the first description of a protease involved in hearing loss.
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