Nele Hilgert

University of Antwerp, Antwerpen, Flanders, Belgium

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Publications (17)83.15 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in GJB2, encoding connexin 26 (Cx26), cause both autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive nonsyndromic hearing loss (ARNSHL) at the DFNA3 and DFNB1 loci, respectively. Most of the over 100 described GJB2 mutations cause ARNSHL. Only a minority has been associated with autosomal dominant hearing loss. In this study, we present two families with autosomal dominant nonsyndromic hearing loss caused by a novel mutation in GJB2 (p.Asp46Asn). Both families were ascertained from the same village in northern Iran consistent with a founder effect. This finding implicates the D46N missense mutation in Cx26 as a common cause of deafness in this part of Iran mandating mutation screening of GJB2 for D46N in all persons with hearing loss who originate from this geographic region.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 05/2011; 155A(5):1202-11. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: POU3F4 encodes a POU-domain transcription factor required for inner ear development. Defects in POU3F4 function are associated with X-linked deafness type 3 (DFN3). Multiple deletions affecting up to ~900-kb upstream of POU3F4 are found in DFN3 patients, suggesting the presence of essential POU3F4 enhancers in this region. Recently, an inner ear enhancer was reported that is absent in most DFN3 patients with upstream deletions. However, two indications suggest that additional enhancers in the POU3F4 upstream region are required for POU3F4 function during inner ear development. First, there is at least one DFN3 deletion that does not eliminate the reported enhancer. Second, the expression pattern driven by this enhancer does not fully recapitulate Pou3f4 expression in the inner ear. Here, we screened a 1-Mb region upstream of the POU3F4 gene for additional cis-regulatory elements and searched for novel DFN3 mutations in the identified POU3F4 enhancers. We found several novel enhancers for otic vesicle expression. Some of these also drive expression in kidney, pancreas and brain, tissues that are known to express Pou3f4. In addition, we report a new and smallest deletion identified so far in a DFN3 family which eliminates 3.9 kb, comprising almost exclusively the previous reported inner ear enhancer. We suggest that multiple enhancers control the expression of Pou3f4 in the inner ear and these may contribute to the phenotype observed in DFN3 patients. In addition, the novel deletion demonstrates that the previous reported enhancer, although not sufficient, is essential for POU3F4 function during inner ear development.
    Human Genetics 10/2010; 128(4):411-9. · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Clinical and audiological examination was done in 2 Belgian families with autosomal dominant sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) linked to DFNA22. Nineteen subjects in family 1 had mild to moderate SNHL starting in the third decade. The hearing loss was characterized by a flat audiogram affecting all tested frequencies with statistically significant progression. In family 2 eleven subjects were affected with mild to moderate SNHL starting in the second decade. Most of them showed a flat audiogram, but some had mid-frequency hearing loss. Significant progression of thresholds was present at 4 and 8 kHz. For all hitherto known DFNA22 families the audiological and clinical characteristics were correlated with the molecular data. This study describes the phenotype of 2 Belgian families with SNHL linked to DFNA22, both with a pathogenic change in the deafness gene MYO6. The phenotypes of all hitherto reported DFNA22 families with mutations in the MYO6 gene have been studied and compared. It seems that genetic defects that spare the motor domain of the myosin VI protein have a milder phenotype.
    Audiology and Neurotology 11/2009; 15(4):211-20. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder, present in 1 of every 500 newborns. To date, 46 genes have been identified that cause nonsyndromic hearing loss, making it an extremely heterogeneous trait. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the inner ear function and expression pattern of these genes. In general, they are involved in hair bundle morphogenesis, form constituents of the extracellular matrix, play a role in cochlear ion homeostasis or serve as transcription factors. During the past few years, our knowledge of genes involved in hair bundle morphogenesis has increased substantially. We give an up-to-date overview of both the nonsyndromic and Usher syndrome genes involved in this process, highlighting proteins that interact to form macromolecular complexes. For every gene, we also summarize its expression pattern and impact on hearing at the functional level. Gene-specific cochlear expression is summarized in a unique table by structure/cell type and is illustrated on a cochlear cross-section, which is available online via the Hereditary Hearing Loss Homepage. This review should provide auditory scientists the most relevant information for all identified nonsyndromic deafness genes.
    Current Molecular Medicine 08/2009; 9(5):546-64. · 4.20 Impact Factor
  • Nele Hilgert
    Human Genetics 05/2009; 125(3):342. · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Usher syndrome (USH) is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disease. The three recognised clinical phenotypes (types I, II and III; USH1, USH2 and USH3) are caused by mutations in nine different genes. USH2C is characterised by moderate to severe hearing loss, retinitis pigmentosa and normal vestibular function. One earlier report describes mutations in GPR98 (VLGR1) in four families segregating this phenotype. To detect the disease-causing mutation in an Iranian family segregating USH2C. In this family, five members had a phenotype compatible with Usher syndrome, and two others had nonsyndromic hearing loss. Mutation analysis of all 90 coding exons of GPR98. Consistent with these clinical findings, the five subjects with USH carried a haplotype linked to the USH2C locus, whereas the two subjects with nonsyndromic hearing loss did not. We identified a new mutation in GPR98 segregating with USH2C in this family. The mutation is a large deletion g.371657_507673del of exons 84 and 85, presumably leading to a frameshift. A large GPR98 deletion of 136 017 bp segregates with USH2C in an Iranian family. To our knowledge, this is only the second report of a GPR98 mutation, and the first report on male subjects with USH2C and a GPR98 mutation.
    Journal of Medical Genetics 05/2009; 46(4):272-6. · 5.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two different missense mutations, p.D572N and p.D572H, affecting the same nucleotide and codon of the TMC1 gene were earlier reported to cause autosomal dominant hearing impairment at locus DFNA36 in two North American families. No other dominant mutations of human TMC1 have been published. We ascertained a third North American family segregating autosomal dominant nonsyndromic hearing impairment at the DFNA36 locus. We identified the p.D572N mutation of TMC1 co-segregating with hearing loss in our study family. A comparative haplotype analysis of linked single nucleotide polymorphisms and short tandem repeats in the two families segregating p.D572N was not consistent with a founder effect. These findings can be explained in two ways. Either nucleotide 1714 is a hot spot for mutations or, alternatively, missense mutations at this site confer a specific pathogenic gain-of-function or dominant-negative effect.
    Journal of Human Genetics 02/2009; 54(3):188-90. · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of myosins in the pathogenesis of hearing loss is well established: five genes encoding unconventional myosins and two genes encoding nonmuscle conventional myosins have so far been described to be essential for normal auditory function and mutations in these genes associated with hearing impairment. To better understand the role of this gene family we performed a mutational screening on two candidate genes, MYO1C and MYO1F, analyzing hundreds of patients, affected by bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and coming from different European countries. This research activity led to the identification of 6 heterozygous missense mutations in MYO1C and additional 5 heterozygous missense mutations in MYO1F. Homology modelling suggests that some of these mutations could have a potential influence on the structure of the ATP binding site and could probably affect the ATPase activity or the actin binding process of both myosins. This study suggests a role of the above mentioned myosin genes in the pathogenesis of hearing loss.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 12/2008; 1792(1). · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary hearing loss (HL) is a very heterogeneous trait, with 46 gene identifications for non-syndromic HL. Mutations in GJB2 cause up to half of all cases of severe-to-profound congenital autosomal recessive non-syndromic HL, with 35delG being the most frequent mutation in Caucasians. Although a genotype-phenotype correlation has been established for most GJB2 genotypes, the HL of 35delG homozygous patients is mild to profound. We hypothesise that this phenotypic variability is at least partly caused by the influence of modifier genes. By performing a whole-genome association (WGA) study on 35delG homozygotes, we sought to identify modifier genes. The association study was performed by comparing the genotypes of mild/moderate cases and profound cases. The first analysis included a pooling-based WGA study of a first set of 255 samples by using both the Illumina 550K and Affymetrix 500K chips. This analysis resulted in a ranking of all analysed single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) according to their P-values. The top 250 most significantly associated SNPs were genotyped individually in the same sample set. All 192 SNPs that still had significant P-values were genotyped in a second independent set of 297 samples for replication. The significant P-values were replicated in nine SNPs, with combined P-values between 3 x 10(-3) and 1 x 10(-4). This study suggests that the phenotypic variability in 35delG homozygous patients cannot be explained by the effect of one major modifier gene. Significantly associated SNPs may reflect a small modifying effect on the phenotype. Increasing the power of the study will be of greatest importance to confirm these results.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 12/2008; 17(4):517-24. · 3.56 Impact Factor
  • Nele Hilgert
    Human Genetics 11/2008; 124(3):305. · 4.63 Impact Factor
  • Nele Hilgert
    Human Genetics 11/2008; 124(3):305. · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hearing impairment is the most common sensory disorder, present in 1 of every 500 newborns. With 46 genes implicated in nonsyndromic hearing loss, it is also an extremely heterogeneous trait. Here, we categorize for the first time all mutations reported in nonsyndromic deafness genes, both worldwide and more specifically in Caucasians. The most frequent genes implicated in autosomal recessive nonsyndromic hearing loss are GJB2, which is responsible for more than half of cases, followed by SLC26A4, MYO15A, OTOF, CDH23 and TMC1. None of the genes associated with autosomal dominant nonsyndromic hearing loss accounts for a preponderance of cases, although mutations are somewhat more frequently reported in WFS1, KCNQ4, COCH and GJB2. Only a minority of these genes is currently included in genetic diagnostics, the selection criteria typically reflecting: (1) high frequency as a cause of deafness (i.e. GJB2); (2) association with another recognisable feature (i.e. SLC26A4 and enlarged vestibular aqueduct); or (3) a recognisable audioprofile (i.e. WFS1). New and powerful DNA sequencing technologies have been developed over the past few years, but have not yet found their way into DNA diagnostics. Implementing these technologies is likely to happen within the next 5 years, and will cause a breakthrough in terms of power and cost efficiency. It will become possible to analyze most - if not all - deafness genes, as opposed to one or a few genes currently. This ability will greatly improve DNA diagnostics, provide epidemiological data on gene-based mutation frequencies, and reveal novel genotype-phenotype correlations.
    Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 09/2008; 681(2-3):189-96. · 3.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder, affecting 1 in 650 newborns. Linkage analysis revealed linkage to locus DFNA22 in two Belgian families 1 and 2 with autosomal dominant sensorineural hearing loss. As MYO6 has previously been reported as responsible for the hearing loss at loci DFNA22 and DFNB37, respectively, DNA sequencing of the coding region and the promoter of MYO6 was performed but this analysis did not reveal any mutations. However, only in patients of family 2, an insertion of 108 bp was identified in the mRNA of the gene. The inserted fragment was part of intron 23 and sequencing of this intron revealed a new splice-site mutation c.IVS23+2321T>G, segregating with the hearing loss in the family. The mutation causes a frameshift and a premature termination codon, but real-time PCR revealed that only 15-20% of the mRNA is degraded by nonsense-mediated decay, while the other part may give rise to an aberrant protein. In family 1, a quantitative real-time PCR experiment revealed a 1.5-1.8-fold overexpression of MYO6 in patients compared to controls. The possible presence of a gene duplication could be excluded by real-time PCR on genomic level. Most likely, the overexpression is caused by a mutation in an unidentified regulatory region of the gene. This study indicates that the inner ear hair cells are sensitive to changes in expression levels of MYO6.
    European Journal of HumanGenetics 06/2008; 16(5):593-602. · 4.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hearing loss is the most frequent sensorineural disorder affecting 1 in 1000 newborns. In more than half of these babies, the hearing loss is inherited. Hereditary hearing loss is a very heterogeneous trait with about 100 gene localizations and 44 gene identifications for non-syndromic hearing loss. Transmembrane channel-like gene 1 (TMC1) has been identified as the disease-causing gene for autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive non-syndromic hearing loss at the DFNA36 and DFNB7/11 loci, respectively. To date, 2 dominant and 18 recessive TMC1 mutations have been reported as the cause of hearing loss in 34 families. In this report, we describe linkage to DFNA36 and DFNB7/11 in 1 family with dominant and 10 families with recessive non-syndromic sensorineural hearing loss. In addition, mutation analysis of TMC1 was performed in 51 familial Turkish patients with autosomal recessive hearing loss. TMC1 mutations were identified in seven of the families segregating recessive hearing loss. The pathogenic variants we found included two known mutations, c.100C>T and c.1165C>T, and four new mutations, c.2350C>T, c.776+1G>A, c.767delT and c.1166G>A. The absence of TMC1 mutations in the remaining six linked families implies the presence of mutations outside the coding region of this gene or alternatively at least one additional deafness-causing gene in this region. The analysis of copy number variations in TMC1 as well as DNA sequencing of 15 additional candidate genes did not reveal any proven pathogenic changes, leaving both hypotheses open.
    Clinical Genetics 06/2008; 74(3):223-32. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Otosclerosis is a common disorder of the otic capsule resulting in hearing impairment in 0.3-0.4% of the Caucasian population. The aetiology of the disease remains unclear. In most cases, otosclerosis can be considered as a complex disease. In some cases, the disease is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait, sometimes with reduced penetrance. To date, seven autosomal dominant loci have been reported, but none of the disease-causing genes has been identified. In this study, we present the results of a genome-wide linkage analysis in a large Tunisian family segregating autosomal dominant otosclerosis. Linkage analysis localised the responsible gene to chromosome 9p13.1-9q21.11 with a maximal LOD score of 4.13, and this locus was named OTSC8. Using newly generated short tandem repeat polymorphism markers, we mapped this new otosclerosis locus to a 34.16 Mb interval between the markers D9S970 and D9S1799. This region comprises the pericentromeric region on both arms of chromosome 9, a highly complex region containing many duplicated sequences.
    Human Genetics 05/2008; 123(3):267-72. · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stickler syndrome is characterized by ophthalmic, articular, orofacial, and auditory manifestations. It has an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern and is caused by mutations in COL2A1, COL11A1, and COL11A2. We describe a family of Moroccan origin that consists of four children with Stickler syndrome, six unaffected children, and two unaffected parents who are distant relatives (fifth degree). All family members were clinically investigated for ear, nose, and throat; ophthalmologic; and radiological abnormalities. Four children showed symptoms characteristic of Stickler syndrome, including moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss, moderate-to-high myopia with vitreoretinopathy, and epiphyseal dysplasia. We considered the COL9A1 gene, located on chromosome 6q13, to be a candidate gene on the basis of the structural association with collagen types II and XI and because of the high expression in the human inner ear indicated by cDNA microarray. Mutation analysis of the coding region of the COL9A1 gene showed a homozygous R295X mutation in the four affected children. The parents and four unaffected children were heterozygous carriers of the R295X mutation. Two unaffected children were homozygous for the wild-type allele. None of the family members except the homozygous R295X carriers had any signs of Stickler syndrome. Therefore, COL9A1 is the fourth identified gene that can cause Stickler syndrome. In contrast to the three previously reported Stickler syndrome-causing genes, this gene causes a form of Stickler syndrome with an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. This finding will have a major impact on the genetic counseling of patients with Stickler syndrome and on the understanding of the pathophysiology of collagens. Mutation analysis of this gene is recommended in patients with Stickler syndrome with possible autosomal recessive inheritance.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 10/2006; 79(3):449-57. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hearing impairment (HI) affects 1 in 650 newborns, which makes it the most common congenital sensory impairment. Despite extraordinary genetic heterogeneity, mutations in one gene, GJB2, which encodes the connexin 26 protein and is involved in inner ear homeostasis, are found in up to 50% of patients with autosomal recessive nonsyndromic hearing loss. Because of the high frequency of GJB2 mutations, mutation analysis of this gene is widely available as a diagnostic test. In this study, we assessed the association between genotype and degree of hearing loss in persons with HI and biallelic GJB2 mutations. We performed cross-sectional analyses of GJB2 genotype and audiometric data from 1,531 persons, from 16 different countries, with autosomal recessive, mild-to-profound nonsyndromic HI. The median age of all participants was 8 years; 90% of persons were within the age range of 0-26 years. Of the 83 different mutations identified, 47 were classified as nontruncating, and 36 as truncating. A total of 153 different genotypes were found, of which 56 were homozygous truncating (T/T), 30 were homozygous nontruncating (NT/NT), and 67 were compound heterozygous truncating/nontruncating (T/NT). The degree of HI associated with biallelic truncating mutations was significantly more severe than the HI associated with biallelic nontruncating mutations (P<.0001). The HI of 48 different genotypes was less severe than that of 35delG homozygotes. Several common mutations (M34T, V37I, and L90P) were associated with mild-to-moderate HI (median 25-40 dB). Two genotypes--35delG/R143W (median 105 dB) and 35delG/dela(GJB6-D13S1830) (median 108 dB)--had significantly more-severe HI than that of 35delG homozygotes.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 12/2005; 77(6):945-57. · 11.20 Impact Factor