We present here a large Israeli-Arab kindred with hereditary deafness. In this family 55 deaf subjects (29M, 26F), who are otherwise healthy, have been identified and traced back five generations to one common female ancestor. The deafness is progressive in nature, usually presenting in infancy and childhood. Audiometry on six deaf and seven unaffected subjects was consistent with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Based on formal family segregation analysis, the inheritance of deafness in this family closely fits the expectation of a two locus model owing to the simultaneous mutation of a mitochondrial gene and an autosomal recessive gene. Thus, this disorder appears to have the unusual features of being an inherited tissue specific mitochondrial disease and apparently requiring the homozygous presence of a nuclear gene for clinical expression. Most importantly, this disorder presents a unique opportunity to investigate the molecular basis of hereditary non-syndromic deafness and normal hearing.
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