MYO7A gene encodes unconventional myosin VIIA, which, when mutated, causes a phenotypic spectrum ranging from recessive hearing loss DFNB2 to deaf-blindness, Usher Type 1B (USH1B). MYO7A mutations are reported in nine DFNB2 families to date, none from sub-Saharan Africa. In DNA, from a cohort of 94 individuals representing 92 families from the Limpopo province of South Africa, eight MYO7A variations were detected among 10 individuals. Family studies identified homozygous and compound heterozygous mutations in 17 individuals out of 32 available family members. Four mutations were novel, p.Gly329Asp, p.Arg373His, p.Tyr1780Ser, and p.Pro2126Leufs*5. Two variations, p.Ser617Pro and p.Thr381Met, previously listed as of uncertain significance (ClinVar), were confirmed to be pathogenic. The identified mutations are predicted to interfere with the conformational properties of myosin VIIA through interruption or abrogation of multiple interactions between the mutant and neighbouring residues. Specifically, p.Pro2126Leufs*5, is predicted to abolish the critical site for the interactions between the tail and the motor domain essential for the autoregulation, leaving a non-functional, unregulated protein that causes hearing loss. We have identified MYO7A as a possible key deafness gene among indigenous sub-Saharan Africans. The spectrum of MYO7A mutations in this South African population points to DFNB2 as a specific entity that may occur in a homozygous or in a compound heterozygous state.
SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL : Table S1: Summary of MYO7A allele and genotype distribution in the sub-Saharan South African DFNB2 families, Table S2: Alignment of the conserved second MyTH7 subdomain in different species and against p.Pro2126Leufs*5, Figure S1: Sanger sequencing electropherograms of MYO7A mutations among South African DFNB2 families.