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Deafness is the most common sensory disorder in humans and the aetiology of genetic deafness is complex. Mouse mutants have been crucial in identifying genes involved in hearing. However, many deafness genes remain unidentified. Using N-ethyl N-nitrosourea (ENU) mutagenesis to generate new mouse models of deafness, we identified a novel semi-dominant mouse mutant, Cloth-ears (Clth). Cloth-ears mice show reduced acoustic startle response and mild hearing loss from approximately 30 days old. Auditory-evoked brainstem response (ABR) and distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) analyses indicate that the peripheral neural auditory pathway is impaired in Cloth-ears mice, but that cochlear function is normal. In addition, both Clth/Clth and Clth/+ mice display paroxysmal tremor episodes with behavioural arrest. Clth/Clth mice also show a milder continuous tremor during movement and rest. Longitudinal phenotypic analysis showed that Clth/+ and Clth/Clth mice also have complex defects in behaviour, growth, neurological and motor function. Positional cloning of Cloth-ears identified a point mutation in the neuronal voltage-gated sodium channel alpha-subunit gene, Scn8a, causing an aspartic acid to valine (D981V) change six amino acids downstream of the sixth transmembrane segment of the second domain (D2S6). Complementation testing with a known Scn8a mouse mutant confirmed that this mutation is responsible for the Cloth-ears phenotype. Our findings suggest a novel role for Scn8a in peripheral neural hearing loss and paroxysmal motor dysfunction.

Original publication

DOI

10.1111/j.1601-183X.2009.00514.x

Type

Journal article

Journal

Genes Brain Behav

Publication Date

10/2009

Volume

8

Pages

699 - 713

Keywords

Amino Acid Sequence, Amino Acid Substitution, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Cochlea, Disease Models, Animal, Dwarfism, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Hearing Loss, Sensorineural, Mental Disorders, Mice, Mice, Neurologic Mutants, Movement Disorders, Mutation, NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Sodium Channels, Tremor