Molecular mechanisms governing the development of mammalian cochlea, the hearing organ, remain largely unknown. Through genome sequencing in three subjects from two families with non-syndromic cochlear aplasia, we identified homozygous 221 KB and 338 KB deletions in a non-coding region on chromosome 8 with an ~200 KB overlapping section. Genomic location of the overlapping deleted region was starting from ~350 KB downstream of GDF6. Otic lineage cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells derived from an affected individual show reduced expression of GDF6 compared to control cells. A mouse knock-out of Gdf6 reveals cochlear aplasia closely resembling the human phenotype. We conclude that GDF6 plays a necessary role in early cochlear development controlled by cis-regulatory elements located within ~500 KB region of the genome in humans and that its disruption leads to deafness due to cochlear aplasia.
Guney Bademci, Clemer Abad, Filiz Basak Cengiz, Serhat Seyhan, Armagan Incesulu, Shengru Guo, Suat Fitoz, Emine Ikbal Atli, Nicholas C. Gosstola, Selma Demir, Brett M. Colbert, Gozde Cosar Seyhan, Claire J. Sineni, Duygu Duman, Hakan Gurkan, Cynthia Casson Morton, Derek M. Dykxhoorn, Katherina Walz, Mustafa Tekin