Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo in humans, yet the molecular etiology is currently unknown. Evidence suggests that genetic factors may play an important role in some cases of idiopathic BPPV, particularly in familial cases, but the responsible genetic variants have not been identified. In this study, we performed whole exome sequencing [including untranslated regions (UTRs)] of 12 families and Sanger sequencing of additional 30 families with recurrent BPPV in Caucasians from the United States (US) Midwest region, to identify the genetic variants responsible for heightened susceptibility to BPPV. Fifty non-BPPV families were included as controls. In silico and experimental analyses of candidate variants show that an insertion variant rs113784532 (frameshift causing truncation) in the neural cadherin gene PCDHGA10 (protocadheringamma A10) is an exceedingly strong candidate (p = 1.80×10-4 vs. sample controls; p = 5.85×10-19 vs. ExAC data; p = 4.9x10-3 vs. NHLBI exome data). The mutant protein forms large aggregates in BPPV samples even at young ages, and affected subjects carrying this variant have an earlier onset of the condition than those without [average 44.0±14.0 (n = 16) versus 54.4±16.1 (n = 36) years old, p = 0.054]. In both human and mouse inner ear tissues, PCDHGA10 is expressed in ganglia, hair cells and vestibular transitional epithelia. Fluorescent RNA in situ hybridization using mouse inner ear tissues shows that expression increases with age. In summary, our data show that a variant in the PCDHGA10 gene may be involved in causing or aggravating some familial cases of recurrent idiopathic BPPV.
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