Cell death-inducing cytotoxicity in truncated KCNQ4 variants associated with DFNA2 hearing loss

Takashi Kojima, Koichiro Wasano*, Satoe Takahashi, Kazuaki Homma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


KCNQ4 encodes the homotetrameric voltage-dependent potassium ion channel Kv7.4, and is the causative gene for autosomal dominant nonsyndromic sensorineural hearing loss, DFNA2. Dominant-negative inhibition accounts for the observed dominant inheritance of many DFNA2-associated KCNQ4 variants. In addition, haploinsufficiency has been presumed as the pathological mechanism for truncated Kv7.4 variants lacking the C-terminal tetramerization region, as they are unlikely to exert a dominant-negative inhibitory effect. Such truncated Kv7.4 variants should result in relatively mild hearing loss when heterozygous; however, this is not always the case. In this study, we characterized Kv7.4Q71fs (c.211delC), Kv7.4W242X (c.725G>A) and Kv7.4A349fs (c.1044_1051del8) in heterologous expression systems and found that expression of these truncated Kv7.4 variants induced cell death. We also found similar cell death-inducing cytotoxic effects in truncated Kv7.1 (KCNQ1) variants, suggesting that the generality of our findings could account for the dominant inheritance of many, if not most, truncated Kv7 variants. Moreover, we found that the application of autophagy inducers can ameliorate the cytotoxicity, providing a novel insight for the development of alternative therapeutic strategies for Kv7.4 variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdmm049015
JournalDMM Disease Models and Mechanisms
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • DFNA2
  • Hereditary hearing loss
  • KCNQ family
  • KCNQ4
  • Kv7.4
  • Potassium channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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