Meniere’s disease (MD) is a rare inner ear disorder characterized by sensorineural hearing loss, episodic vertigo, and tinnitus. Familial MD has been reported in 6 to 9% of sporadic cases, and few genes including FAM136A, DTNA, PRKCB, SEMA3D, and DPT have been involved in single families, suggesting genetic heterogeneity. In this study, the authors recruited 46 families with MD to search for relevant candidate genes for hearing loss in familial MD.
Exome sequencing data from MD patients were analyzed to search for rare variants in hearing loss genes in a case-control study. A total of 109 patients with MD (73 familial cases and 36 early-onset sporadic patients) diagnosed according to the diagnostic criteria defined by the Barany Society were recruited in 11 hospitals. The allelic frequencies of rare variants in hearing loss genes were calculated in individuals with familial MD. A single rare variant analysis and a gene burden analysis (GBA) were conducted in the dataset selecting 1 patient from each family. Allelic frequencies from European and Spanish reference datasets were used as controls.
A total of 5136 single-nucleotide variants in hearing loss genes were considered for single rare variant analysis in familial MD cases, but only 1 heterozygous likely pathogenic variant in the OTOG gene (rs552304627) was found in 2 unrelated families. The gene burden analysis found an enrichment of rare missense variants in the OTOG gene in familial MD. So, 15 of 46 families (33%) showed at least 1 rare missense variant in the OTOG gene, suggesting a key role in familial MD.
The authors found an enrichment of multiplex rare missense variants in the OTOG gene in familial MD. This finding supports OTOG as a relevant gene in familial MD and set the groundwork for genetic testing in MD.