Rottweiler hearing loss findings may aid research into hereditary deafness in humans



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Researchers behind a canine deafness study focusing on the cuddly Rottweiler breed are hopeful of opening new routes for investigating human hereditary hearing defects.

Findings so far have determined the cause for nonsyndromic early-onset hereditary canine hearing loss in the Rottweiler, a condition that begins early in puppyhood and progresses to deafness at the age of few months. The exact mechanism of deafness is not known, but variants of the same gene cause hereditary hearing loss in both humans and mice, say the researchers.

The specific variant occurs in the the LOXHD1 gene, which plays a key role in the function of the cilia of the cochlear sensory cells. The defect is a recessively inherited trait; the dog must have two copies of the defective gene, one from the male parent and one from the female parent.

This project design relied on an unprecedentedly large data scope exploring the prevalence and breed specificity of the gene variant in a unique global dataset of some 800,000 dogs. The defect is found in Rottweilers and other mixed breeds, the majority having Rottweiler ancestry.

Led by Professor Hannes Lohi from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhalsan Research Center, these researchers are engaged in a major programme investigating the genetic background of hereditary diseases, among which several projects are probing genetic causes specifically for hearing loss.

Source: News Medical Life Sciences