Hereditary hearing loss (HHL) is a common disorder accounting for at least 60% of prelingual deafness. It is characterized by a large genetic heterogeneity, and despite the presence of a major gene, still there is a need to search for new causative mutations/genes. Very recently, a mutation within ATP-gated P2X(2) receptor (ligand-gated ion channel, purinergic receptor 2) gene (P2RX2) at DNFA41 locus has been reported leading to a bilateral and symmetrical sensorineural non-syndromic autosomal dominant HHL in two Chinese families. We performed a linkage analysis in a large Italian family with a dominant pattern of inheritance showing a significant 3.31 LOD score in a 2. Mb region overlapping with the DNFA41 locus. Molecular analyses of P2RX2 identified a novel missense mutation (p.Gly353Arg) affecting a residue highly conserved across species. Visual inspection of the protein structure as obtained from comparative modeling suggests that substitution of the small glycine residue with a charged bulky residue such as an arginine that is close to the 'neck' of the region responsible for ion channel gating should have a high energetic cost and should lead to a severely destabilization of the fold. The identification of a second most likely causative mutation in P2RX2 gene further supports the possible role of this gene in causing autosomal dominant HHL.
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