Burden of rare variants in synaptic genes in patients with severe tinnitus: An exome based extreme phenotype study
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AuthorAmanat, Sana; Gallego Martinez, Álvaro; Pérez Carpena, Patricia; Espinosa Sánchez, Juan Manuel; López Escámez, José Antonio
TinnitusExtreme phenotypeAxon initial segmentExome sequencing
Amanat, S., Gallego-Martinez, A., Sollini, J., Perez-Carpena, P., Espinosa-Sanchez, J. M., Aran, I., ... & Lopez-Escamez, J. A. (2021). Burden of rare variants in synaptic genes in patients with severe tinnitus: An exome based extreme phenotype study. EBioMedicine, 66, 103309.
Background: tinnitus is a heterogeneous condition associated with audiological and/or mental disorders. Chronic, severe tinnitus is reported in 1% of the population and it shows a relevant heritability, according to twins, adoptees and familial aggregation studies. The genetic contribution to severe tinnitus is unknown since large genomic studies include individuals with self-reported tinnitus and large heterogeneity in the phenotype. The aim of this study was to identify genes for severe tinnitus in patients with extreme phenotype. Methods: for this extreme phenotype study, we used three different cohorts with European ancestry (Spanish with Meniere disease (MD), Swedes tinnitus and European generalized epilepsy). In addition, four independent control datasets were also used for comparisons. Whole-exome sequencing was performed for the MD and epilepsy cohorts and whole-genome sequencing was carried out in Swedes with tinnitus. Findings: we found an enrichment of rare missense variants in 24 synaptic genes in a Spanish cohort, the most significant being PRUNE2, AKAP9, SORBS1, ITGAX, ANK2, KIF20B and TSC2 (p < 2E 04), when they were compared with reference datasets. This burden was replicated for ANK2 gene in a Swedish cohort with 97 tinnitus individuals, and in a subset of 34 Swedish patients with severe tinnitus for ANK2, AKAP9 and TSC2 genes (p < 2E 02). However, these associations were not significant in a third cohort of 701 generalized epilepsy individuals without tinnitus. Gene ontology (GO) and gene-set enrichment analyses revealed several pathways and biological processes involved in severe tinnitus, including membrane trafficking and cytoskeletal protein binding in neurons. Interpretation: a burden of rare variants in ANK2, AKAP9 and TSC2 is associated with severe tinnitus. ANK2, encodes a cytoskeleton scaffolding protein that coordinates the assembly of several proteins, drives axonal branching and influences connectivity in neurons.