Hearing loss is a significant public health concern, affecting over 250 million people worldwide. Both genetic and environmental etiologies are linked to hearing loss, but in many cases the underlying cellular pathophysiology is not well understood, highlighting the importance of further discovery. We found that inactivation of the gene Tmtc4 (transmembrane and tetratricopeptide repeat 4), which was broadly expressed in the mouse cochlea, caused acquired hearing loss in mice. Our data showed Tmtc4 enriched in the endoplasmic reticulum, and that it functioned by regulating Ca2+ dynamics and the unfolded protein response (UPR). Given this genetic linkage of the UPR to hearing loss, we demonstrated a direct link between the more common noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and the UPR. These experiments suggested a novel approach to treatment. We demonstrated that the small-molecule UPR and stress response modulator ISRIB (integrated stress response inhibitor), which activates eIF2B, prevented NIHL in a mouse model. Moreover, in an inverse genetic complementation approach, we demonstrated that mice with homozygous inactivation of both Tmtc4 and Chop had less hearing loss than knockout of Tmtc4 alone. This study implicated a novel mechanism for hearing impairment, highlighting a potential treatment approach for a broad range of human hearing loss disorders.
Jiang Li, Omar Akil, Stephanie L. Rouse, Conor W. McLaughlin, Ian R. Matthews, Lawrence R. Lustig, Dylan K. Chan, Elliott H. Sherr
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.