Genetic variants in over 100 genes can cause non-syndromic hearing loss (NSHL). Comprehensive diagnostic testing of these genes requires detecting pathogenic sequence and copy number alterations with economical, scalable and sensitive assays. Here we discuss best practices and effective testing algorithms for hearing-loss-related genes with special emphasis on detection of copy number variants.
We review studies that used next-generation sequencing (NGS), chromosomal microarrays, droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) for the diagnosis of NSHL. We specifically focus on unique and recurrent copy number changes that affect the GJB2 and STRC genes, two of the most common causes of NSHL.
NGS panels and exome sequencing can detect most pathogenic sequence and copy number variants that cause NSHL; however, GJB2 and STRC currently require additional assays to capture all pathogenic copy number variants. Adoption of genome sequencing may simplify diagnostic workflows, but further investigational studies will be required to evaluate its clinical efficacy.