The Usher syndromes (US) are a group of inherited disorders that feature autosomal recessive neurosensory hearing loss or deafness with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Moderate to severe non-progressive high frequency hearing loss with RP and normal vestibular function describes Usher syndrome type IIa, which has been localized to lq41. Severe retinal degeneration in the inbred mouse strain RBF/DnJ is caused by rd3, a recessive gene located on mouse chromosome 1 distal to akp1 in a region which is orthologous to human lq32-q42. We evaluated rd3 as a candidate for orthology with USH2A by first reducing and refining the relatively broad region in which rd3 is thought to reside. DNA of offspring from an RBF/DnJ x MOLF/Ei backcross was genotyped with PCR markers closely flanking the predicted location of rd3. Our haplotype analysis re-positioned rd3 to a 3.6 cM region between markers D1Mit273 (cen) and D1Mit209 (tel), consistent with the expected position of an USH2A murine orthologue. Consequently, rd3 is a positional candidate for Usher type IIa. Next we assessed the rd3/rd3 audiological phenotype to see how closely it paralleled that of Usher IIa. Audiological evaluation of mice at various ages revealed evidence of high frequency progressive hearing loss, previously unreported in the RBF/DnJ strain. However, this newly discovered hearing deficit was observed to be inherited independently of rd3, establishing that a completely different gene is responsible.
- Usher syndrome type IIa