Disparities in discovery of pathogenic variants for autosomal recessive non-syndromic hearing impairment by ancestry

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Hearing impairment (HI) is characterized by extensive genetic heterogeneity. To determine the population-specific contribution of known autosomal recessive nonsyndromic (ARNS)HI genes and variants to HI etiology; pathogenic and likely pathogenic (PLP) ARNSHI variants were selected from ClinVar and the Deafness Variation Database and their frequencies were obtained from gnomAD for seven populations. ARNSHI prevalence due to PLP variants varies greatly by population ranging from 96.9 affected per 100,000 individuals for Ashkenazi Jews to 5.2 affected per 100,000 individuals for Africans/African Americans. For Europeans, Finns have the lowest prevalence due to ARNSHI PLP variants with 9.5 affected per 100,000 individuals. For East Asians, Latinos, non-Finish Europeans, and South Asians, ARNSHI prevalence due to PLP variants ranges from 17.1 to 33.7 affected per 100,000 individuals. ARNSHI variants that were previously reported in a single ancestry or family were observed in additional populations, e.g., USH1C p.(Q723*) reported in a Chinese family was the most prevalent pathogenic variant observed in gnomAD for African/African Americans. Variability between populations is due to how extensively ARNSHI has been studied, ARNSHI prevalence and ancestry specific ARNSHI variant architecture which is impacted by population history. Our study demonstrates that additional gene and variant discovery studies are necessary for all populations and particularly for individuals of African ancestry.

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This work was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders grants R01 DC011651, R01 DC003594, and R01 DC016593, and the National Institute of Genome Research Grant UM1 HG006493 to SML. LCF was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Advanced Postdoc Mobility 177853).

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Correspondence to Suzanne M. Leal.

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