Usher–Hallgren syndrome : Types and Symptoms
Usher–Hallgren syndrome, retinitis pigmentosa–dysacusis syndrome or dystrophia retinae dysacusis syndrome, is a rare genetic disorder caused by a mutation in any one of at least 11 genes resulting in a combination of hearing loss and visual impairment. It is a major cause of deafblindness and is at present incurable.Usher syndrome is classed into three subtypes (I, II and III) according to the genes responsible and the onset of deafness. All three subtypes are caused by mutations in genes involved in the function of the inner ear and retina. These mutations are inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern.
Usher syndrome is characterized by hearing loss and a gradual visual impairment. The hearing loss is caused by a defective inner ear, whereas the vision loss results from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degeneration of the retinal cells. Usually, the rod cells of the retina are affected first, leading to early night blindness (nyctalopia) and the gradual loss of peripheral vision. In other cases, early degeneration of the cone cells in the macula occurs, leading to a loss of central acuity. In some cases, the foveal vision is spared, leading to "doughnut vision"; central and peripheral vision are intact, but an annulus exists around the central region in which vision is impaired.
Usher syndrome I
People with Usher I are born profoundly deaf and begin to lose their vision in the first decade of life. They also exhibit balance difficulties and learn to walk slowly as children, due to problems in their vestibular system.
Usher syndrome type I can be caused by mutations in any one of several different genes: CDH23, MYO7A, PCDH15, USH1C and USH1G. These genes function in the development and maintenance of inner ear structures such as hair cells (stereocilia), which transmit sound and motion signals to the brain. Alterations in these genes can cause an inability to maintain balance (vestibular dysfunction) and hearing loss. The genes also play a role in the development and stability of the retina by influencing the structure and function of both the rod photoreceptor cells and supporting cells called the retinal pigmented epithelium. Mutations that affect the normal function of these genes can result in retinitis pigmentosa and resultant vision loss.
Usher syndrome II
People with Usher II are not born deaf and are generally hard-of-hearing rather than deaf, and their hearing does not degrade over time; moreover, they do not seem to have noticeable problems with balance. They also begin to lose their vision later (in the second decade of life) and may preserve some vision even into middle age.
Usher syndrome type II may be caused by mutations in any of three different genes: USH2A, GPR98 and DFNB31. The protein encoded by the USH2A gene, usherin, is located in the supportive tissue in the inner ear and retina. Usherin is critical for the proper development and maintenance of these structures, which may help explain its role in hearing and vision loss. The location and function of the other two proteins are not yet known.Usher syndrome type II occurs at least as frequently as type I, but because type II may be underdiagnosed or more difficult to detect, it could be up to three times as common as type I.
Usher syndrome III
People with Usher syndrome III are not born deaf but experience a "progressive" loss of hearing, and roughly half have balance difficulties.Mutations in only one gene, CLRN1, have been linked to Usher syndrome type III. CLRN1 encodes clarin-1, a protein important for the development and maintenance of the inner ear and retina. However, the protein's function in these structures, and how its mutation causes hearing and vision loss, is still poorly understood.