Neu-Laxova syndrome (NLS) is a rare autosomal-recessive disorder characterized by a recognizable pattern of severe malformations leading to prenatal or early postnatal lethality. Homozygous mutations in PHGDH, a gene involved in the first and limiting step in L-serine biosynthesis, were recently identified as the cause of the disease in three families. By studying a cohort of 12 unrelated families affected by NLS, we provide evidence that NLS is genetically heterogeneous and can be caused by mutations in all three genes encoding enzymes of the L-serine biosynthesis pathway. Consistent with recently reported findings, we could identify PHGDH missense mutations in three unrelated families of our cohort. Furthermore, we mapped an overlapping homozygous chromosome 9 region containing PSAT1 in four consanguineous families. This gene encodes phosphoserine aminotransferase, the enzyme for the second step in L-serine biosynthesis. We identified six families with three different missense and frameshift PSAT1 mutations fully segregating with the disease. In another family, we discovered a homozygous frameshift mutation in PSPH, the gene encoding phosphoserine phosphatase, which catalyzes the last step of L-serine biosynthesis. Interestingly, all three identified genes have been previously implicated in serine-deficiency disorders, characterized by variable neurological manifestations. Our findings expand our understanding of NLS as a disorder of the L-serine biosynthesis pathway and suggest that NLS represents the severe end of serine-deficiency disorders, demonstrating that certain complex syndromes characterized by early lethality could indeed be the extreme end of the phenotypic spectrum of already known disorders.
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP, MIM 135100) is a rare autosomal dominant genetic disorder and the most disabling condition of heterotopic (extraskeletal) ossification in humans. Mutations in the ACVR1 gene (MIM 102576) were identified as a genetic cause of FOP [Shore et al., 2006]. Most patients with FOP have the same recurrent single nucleotide change c.617G>A, p.R206H in the ACVR1 gene. Furthermore, 11 other mutations in the ACVR1 gene have been described as a cause of FOP. Here, we review phenotypic and molecular findings of 130 cases of FOP reported in the literature from 1982 to April 2014 and discuss possible genotype-phenotype correlations in FOP patients.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a well characterized developmental disorder. The genetic cause of CdLS is a mutation in one of five associated genes (NIPBL, SMC1A, SMC3, RAD21 and HDAC8) accounting for about 70 % of cases. To improve our current molecular diagnostic and to analyze some of CdLS candidate genes we developed and established a gene panel approach. Because recent data indicate a high frequency of mosaic NIPBL mutations that were not detected by conventional sequencing approaches of blood DNA, we started to collected buccal mucosa samples of our patients that were negative for mutations in the known CdLS genes. Here we report the identification of three mosaic NIPBL mutations by our high-coverage gene panel sequencing approach that were undetected by classical Sanger sequencing analysis of buccal mucosa DNA. All mutations were confirmed by the use of highly sensitive SNaPshot fragment analysis using DNA from buccal mucosa, urine and fibroblast samples. In blood samples we could not detect the respective mutation. Finally, in fibroblast samples from all three patients, Sanger sequencing could identify all the mutations. Thus, our study highlights the need for highly sensitive technologies in molecular diagnostic of CdLS to improve genetic diagnosis and counseling of patients and their families. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
THAP1 encodes a transcription factor but its regulation is largely elusive. TOR1A was shown to be repressed by THAP1 in vitro. Notably, mutations in both of these genes lead to dystonia (DYT6 or DYT1). Surprisingly, expressional changes of TOR1A in THAP1 mutation carriers have not been detected indicating additional levels of regulation. Here, we investigated whether THAP1 is able to autoregulate its own expression. Using in-silico prediction, luciferase reporter gene assays, and (quantitative) chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), we defined the THAP1 minimal promoter to a 480bp-fragment and demonstrated specific binding of THAP1 to this region which resulted in repression of the THAP1 promoter. This autoregulation was disturbed by different DYT6-causing mutations. Two mutants (Ser6Phe, Arg13His) were shown to be less stable than wildtype THAP1 adding to the effect of reduced binding to the THAP1 promoter. Overexpressed THAP1 is preferably degraded through the proteasome. Notably, endogenous THAP1 expression was significantly reduced in cells overexpressing wildtype THAP1 as demonstrated by quantitative PCR. In contrast, higher THAP1 levels were detected in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS)-derived neurons from THAP1 mutation carriers. Thus, we identified a feedback-loop in the regulation of THAP1 expression and demonstrated that mutant THAP1 leads to higher THAP1 expression levels. This compensatory autoregulation may contribute to the mean age at onset in the late teen years or even reduced penetrance in some THAP1 mutation carriers.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a congenital developmental disorder characterized by distinctive craniofacial features, growth retardation, cognitive impairment, limb defects, hirsutism, and multisystem involvement. Mutations in five genes encoding structural components (SMC1A, SMC3, RAD21) or functionally associated factors (NIPBL, HDAC8) of the cohesin complex have been found in patients with CdLS. In about 60% of the patients, mutations in NIPBL could be identified. Interestingly, 17% of them are predicted to change normal splicing, however, detailed molecular investigations are often missing. Here, we report the first systematic study of the physiological splicing of the NIPBL gene, that would reveal the identification of four new splicing isoforms ?E10, ?E12, ?E33,34, and B'. Furthermore, we have investigated nine mutations affecting splice-sites in the NIPBL gene identified in twelve CdLS patients. All mutations have been examined on the DNA and RNA level, as well as by in silico analyses. Although patients with mutations affecting NIPBL splicing show a broad clinical variability, the more severe phenotypes seem to be associated with aberrant transcripts resulting in a shift of the reading frame.
In patients with genetically heterogeneous disorders such as intellectual disability or epilepsy, exome sequencing is a powerful tool to elucidate the underlying genetic cause. Homozygous and compound heterozygous mutations in C12orf57 have recently been described to cause an autosomal recessive syndromic form of intellectual disability, including agenesis/hypoplasia of the corpus callosum, optic coloboma, and intractable seizures. Here, we report on two siblings from nonconsanguineous parents harboring two compound heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in C12orf57 identified by exome sequencing, including a novel nonsense mutation, and review the patients described in the literature.
The imprinted region on chromosome 14q32 harbors several maternally or paternally expressed genes as well as two DMRs (differentially methylated regions), the IG-DMR and the MEG3-DMR, which both act as imprinting control centers. Genetic aberrations affecting the imprinted gene cluster in 14q32 result in distinct phenotypes, known as maternal or paternal uniparental disomy 14 phenotypes (upd(14)mat, upd(14)pat). In both syndromes, three types of molecular alterations have been reported: uniparental disomy 14, deletions and epimutations. In contrast to uniparental disomy and epimutations, deletions affecting regulatory elements in 14q32 are associated with a high-recurrence risk. Based on two single deletion cases a functional hierarchy of the IG-DMR as a regulator for the methylation of the MEG3-DMR has been proposed. We have identified two novel deletions of maternal origin spanning the MEG3-DMR, but not the IG-DMR in patients with upd(14)pat syndrome, one de novo deletion of 165?kb and another deletion of 5.8?kb in two siblings. The 5.8?kb deletion was inherited from the phenotypically normal mother, who carries the deletion in a mosaic state on her paternal chromosome 14. The methylation at both DMRs was investigated by quantitative next generation bisulfite sequencing and revealed normal methylation patterns at the IG-DMR in all patients with the exception of certain CpG dinucleotides. Thus, we could confirm that deletions of the MEG3-DMR does not generally influence the methylation pattern of the IG-DMR, which strengthens the hypothesis of a hierarchical structure and distinct functional properties of the two DMRs.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 7 May 2014; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.72.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6), episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2) and familial hemiplegic migraine type 1 (FHM1) are allelic disorders of the gene CACNA1A encoding the P/Q subunit of a voltage gated calcium channel. While SCA6 is related to repeat expansions affecting the C-terminal part of the protein, EA2 and FHM phenotypes are usually associated with nonsense and missense mutations leading to impaired channel properties. In three unrelated families with dominant cerebellar ataxia, symptoms cosegregated with CACNA1A missense mutations of evolutionary highly conserved amino acids (exchanges p.E668K, p.R583Q and p.D302N). To evaluate pathogenic effects, in silico, protein modeling analyses were performed which indicate structural alterations of the novel mutation p.E668K within the homologous domain 2 affecting CACNA1A protein function. The phenotype is characterised by a very slowly progressive ataxia, while ataxic episodes or migraine are uncommon. These findings enlarge the phenotypic spectrum of CACNA1A mutations.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a multisystem genetic disorder with distinct facies, growth failure, intellectual disability, distal limb anomalies, gastrointestinal and neurological disease. Mutations in NIPBL, encoding a cohesin regulatory protein, account for >80% of cases with typical facies. Mutations in the core cohesin complex proteins, encoded by the SMC1A, SMC3 and RAD21 genes, together account for ?5% of subjects, often with atypical CdLS features. Recently, we identified mutations in the X-linked gene HDAC8 as the cause of a small number of CdLS cases. Here, we report a cohort of 38 individuals with an emerging spectrum of features caused by HDAC8 mutations. For several individuals, the diagnosis of CdLS was not considered prior to genomic testing. Most mutations identified are missense and de novo. Many cases are heterozygous females, each with marked skewing of X-inactivation in peripheral blood DNA. We also identified eight hemizygous males who are more severely affected. The craniofacial appearance caused by HDAC8 mutations overlaps that of typical CdLS but often displays delayed anterior fontanelle closure, ocular hypertelorism, hooding of the eyelids, a broader nose and dental anomalies, which may be useful discriminating features. HDAC8 encodes the lysine deacetylase for the cohesin subunit SMC3 and analysis of the functional consequences of the missense mutations indicates that all cause a loss of enzymatic function. These data demonstrate that loss-of-function mutations in HDAC8 cause a range of overlapping human developmental phenotypes, including a phenotypically distinct subgroup of CdLS.
Epilepsy is a phenotypically and genetically highly heterogeneous disorder with >200 genes linked to inherited forms of the disease. To identify the underlying genetic cause in a patient with intractable seizures, optic atrophy, severe intellectual disability (ID), brain abnormalities, and muscular hypotonia, we performed exome sequencing in a 5-year-old girl and her unaffected parents. In the patient, we detected a novel, de novo missense mutation in the SCN2A (c.5645G>T; p.R1882L) gene encoding the ?II -subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav 1.2. A literature review revealed 33 different SCN2A mutations in 14 families with benign forms of epilepsy and in 21 cases with severe phenotypes. Although almost all benign mutations were inherited, the majority of severe mutations occurred de novo. Of interest, de novo SCN2A mutations have also been reported in five patients without seizures but with ID (n = 3) and/or autism (n = 3). In the present study, we successfully used exome sequencing to detect a de novo mutation in a genetically heterogeneous disorder with epilepsy and ID. Using this approach, we expand the phenotypic spectrum of SCN2A mutations. Our own and literature data indicate that SCN2A-linked severe phenotypes are more likely to be caused by de novo mutations. A PowerPoint slide summarizing this article is available for download in the Supporting Information section here.
Borjeson-Forssman-Lehmann syndrome (BFLS) is an X-linked recessive intellectual disability (ID) disorder caused by mutations in the PHF6 gene and characterised by variable cognitive impairment, a distinct facial gestalt, obesity, and hypogonadism. Female carriers are usually not affected or only mildly affected, and so far only two females with de novo mutations or deletions in PHF6 have been reported.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS; or Brachmann-de Lange syndrome) is a dominantly inherited congenital malformation disorder with features that include characteristic facies, cognitive delays, growth retardation and limb anomalies. Mutations in nearly 60% of CdLS patients have been identified in NIPBL, which encodes a regulator of the sister chromatid cohesion complex. NIPBL, also known as delangin, is a homolog of yeast and amphibian Scc2 and C. elegans PQN-85. Although the exact mechanism of NIPBL function in sister chromatid cohesion is unclear, in vivo yeast and C. elegans experiments and in vitro vertebrate cell experiments have demonstrated that NIPBL/Scc2 functionally interacts with the MAU2/Scc4 protein to initiate loading of cohesin onto chromatin. To test the significance of this model in the clinical setting of CdLS, we fine-mapped the NIBPL-MAU2 interaction domain and tested the functional significance of missense mutations and variants in NIPBL and MAU2 identified in these minimal domains in a cohort of patients with CdLS. We demonstrate that specific novel mutations at the N-terminus of the MAU2-interacting domain of NIBPL result in markedly reduced MAU2 binding, although we appreciate no consistent clinical difference in the small group of patients with these mutations. These data suggest that factors in addition to MAU2 are essential in determining the clinical features and severity of CdLS.
Dominant mutations in the receptor calcium channel gene TRPV4 have been associated with a family of skeletal dysplasias (metatropic dysplasia, pseudo-Morquio type 2, spondylometaphyseal dysplasia, Kozlowski type, brachyolmia, and familial digital arthropathy) as well as with dominantly inherited neuropathies (hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy 2C, scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy, and congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy). While there is phenotypic overlap between the various members of each group, the two groups were considered to be totally separate with the former being strictly a structural skeletal condition and the latter group being confined to the peripheral nervous system. We report here on fetal akinesia as the presenting feature of severe metatropic dysplasia, suggesting that certain TRPV4 mutations can cause both a skeletal and a neuropathic phenotype. Three cases were detected on prenatal ultrasound because of absent movements in the second trimester. Case 4 presented with multiple joint contractures and absent limb movements at birth and was diagnosed with "fetal akinesia syndrome". Post-interruption and post-natal X-rays showed typical features of metatropic dysplasia in all four. Sequencing of the TRPV4 gene confirmed the presence of de novo heterozygous mutations predicting G78W (Case 1), T740I (Cases 2 and 3), and K276E (Case 4). Although some degree of restriction of movements is not uncommon in fetuses with skeletal dysplasia, akinesia as leading sign is unusual and suggests that certain TRPV4 mutations produce both chondrodysplasia and a peripheral neuropathy resulting in a severe "overlap" phenotype.
Ophthalmo-acromelic syndrome (OAS), also known as Waardenburg Anophthalmia syndrome, is defined by the combination of eye malformations, most commonly bilateral anophthalmia, with post-axial oligosyndactyly. Homozygosity mapping and subsequent targeted mutation analysis of a locus on 14q24.2 identified homozygous mutations in SMOC1 (SPARC-related modular calcium binding 1) in eight unrelated families. Four of these mutations are nonsense, two frame-shift, and two missense. The missense mutations are both in the second Thyroglobulin Type-1 (Tg1) domain of the protein. The orthologous gene in the mouse, Smoc1, shows site- and stage-specific expression during eye, limb, craniofacial, and somite development. We also report a targeted pre-conditional gene-trap mutation of Smoc1 (Smoc1(tm1a)) that reduces mRNA to ?10% of wild-type levels. This gene-trap results in highly penetrant hindlimb post-axial oligosyndactyly in homozygous mutant animals (Smoc1(tm1a/tm1a)). Eye malformations, most commonly coloboma, and cleft palate occur in a significant proportion of Smoc1(tm1a/tm1a) embryos and pups. Thus partial loss of Smoc-1 results in a convincing phenocopy of the human disease. SMOC-1 is one of the two mammalian paralogs of Drosophila Pentagone, an inhibitor of decapentaplegic. The orthologous gene in Xenopus laevis, Smoc-1, also functions as a Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP) antagonist in early embryogenesis. Loss of BMP antagonism during mammalian development provides a plausible explanation for both the limb and eye phenotype in humans and mice.
Kabuki syndrome (KS) is one of the classical, clinically well-known multiple anomalies/mental retardation syndromes, mainly characterized by a very distinctive facial appearance in combination with additional clinical signs such as developmental delay, short stature, persistent fingerpads, and urogenital tract anomalies. In our study, we sequenced all 54 coding exons of the recently identified MLL2 gene in 34 patients with Kabuki syndrome. We identified 18 distinct mutations in 19 patients, 11 of 12 tested de novo. Mutations were located all over the gene and included three nonsense mutations, two splice-site mutations, six small deletions or insertions, and seven missense mutations. We compared frequencies of clinical symptoms in MLL2 mutation carriers versus non-carriers. MLL2 mutation carriers significantly more often presented with short stature and renal anomalies (p = 0.026 and 0.031, respectively), and in addition, MLL2 carriers obviously showed more frequently a typical facial gestalt (17/19) compared with non-carriers (9/15), although this result was not statistically significant (p = 0.1). Mutation-negative patients were subsequently tested for mutations in ten functional candidate genes (e.g. MLL, ASC2, ASH2L, and WDR5), but no convincing causative mutations could be found. Our results indicate that MLL2 is the major gene for Kabuki syndrome with a wide spectrum of de novo mutations and strongly suggest further genetic heterogeneity.
Bohring-Opitz syndrome is characterized by severe intellectual disability, distinctive facial features and multiple congenital malformations. We sequenced the exomes of three individuals with Bohring-Opitz syndrome and in each identified heterozygous de novo nonsense mutations in ASXL1, which is required for maintenance of both activation and silencing of Hox genes. In total, 7 out of 13 subjects with a Bohring-Opitz phenotype had de novo ASXL1 mutations, suggesting that the syndrome is genetically heterogeneous.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) (also referred to as Brachmann-de Lange syndrome) constitutes a multisystem developmental anomaly which is characterized by facial dysmorphism, upper limb deformities, and mental retardation. We report on two subsequent pregnancies with antenatally diagnosed CdLS at 23 and 14 gestational weeks, respectively, of an otherwise healthy gravida. Molecular genetic testing revealed a rare case of gonadal mosaicism of a nonsense NIPBL gene mutation.
Bohring-Opitz syndrome (BOS) is a rare congenital disorder of unknown etiology diagnosed on the basis of distinctive clinical features. We suggest diagnostic criteria for this condition, describe ten previously unreported patients, and update the natural history of four previously reported patients. This is the largest series reported to date, providing a unique opportunity to document the key clinical features and course through childhood. Investigations undertaken to try and elucidate the underlying pathogenesis of BOS using array comparative genomic hybridization and tandem mass spectrometry of cholesterol precursors did not show any pathogenic changes responsible.
We report a 21-year-old patient with speech problems, autistic traits, dysmorphic facial features, broad thumbs with short distal phalanges and a pancreatic gastrinoma. Array-CGH demonstrated a 0.57 Mb de novo deletion in chromosome 11q13.1. The deleted region contains several genes which likely contribute to the patients complex phenotype, including the MEN1 gene. The deletion of the MEN1 gene is causing multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). The neurodevelopmental phenotype of the patient might be associated with the deletion of the genes NRXN2 and PPP2R5B which have been described to be involved in synaptogenesis and dendritic branching. According to our knowledge, we report for the first time a patient with the combination of a neurodevelopmental phenotype and MEN1 caused by a microdeletion on chromosome 11.
Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome (SGBS) is a rare X-linked recessive disorder encompassing pre- and postnatal overgrowth and a variety of additional anomalies including craniofacial dysmorphism, macrocephaly, congenital heart defects and genitourinary anomalies. There is little published information regarding the prenatal presentation of SGBS in pregnancy. In the present report we describe the antenatal features of an affected fetus from 12 gestational weeks onwards, subsequently diagnosed with SGBS by molecular testing positive for GPC3 gene mutation.
Autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are heterogeneous neurological disorders characterised by cerebellar dysfunction mostly due to Purkinje cell degeneration. Genetically, 30 different loci have been identified so far whereas the corresponding gene has not yet been determined for 12 of them. The chromosomal location for the spinocerebellar ataxia type 31 (SCA31) has been mapped to chromosome 16q22.1. This region is located within the candidate interval for the spinocerebellar ataxia type 4 (SCA4), for which the underlying mutation still has to be discovered. Recently, a complex (TGGAA)(n) containing repeat insertion within the SCA31 critical region was reported to be causative for SCA31. Although the presence of the pentanucleotide repeat component (TGGAA)(n) seems to be a specific feature of SCA31 patients insertions, it is still unclear whether a large insertion lacking any (TGGAA) sequence remains nonpathogenic. In order to check whether the German SCA4 patients, belonging to one of the two currently known SCA4 families worldwide, exhibit a potential pathogenic mutation at the SCA31 locus, we performed molecular genetic analyses for affected as well as unaffected family members. Based on a nested-PCR approach and direct sequencing, a disease causing mutation at the SCA31 locus could be excluded for the German SCA4 kindred. However, our data impressively demonstrate the genetic instability in this chromosomal region.
We report on a 25-year-old woman with pronounced generalized lipodystrophy and a progeroid aspect since birth, who also had Marfan syndrome (MFS; fulfilling the Ghent criteria) with mild skeletal features, dilated aortic bulb, dural ectasia, bilateral subluxation of the lens, and severe myopia in addition to the severe generalized lipodystrophy. She lacked insulin resistance, hypertriglyceridemia, hepatic steatosis, and diabetes. Mutation analysis in the gene encoding fibrillin 1 (FBN1) revealed a novel de novo heterozygous deletion, c.8155_8156del2 in exon 64. The severe generalized lipodystrophy in this patient with progeroid features has not previously been described in other patients with MFS and FBN1 mutations. We did not find a mutation in genes known to be associated with congenital lipodystrophy (APGAT2, BSCL2, CAV1, PTRF-CAVIN, PPARG, LMNB2) or with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria (ZMPSTE24, LMNA/C). Other progeria syndromes were considered unlikely because premature greying, hypogonadism, and scleroderma-like skin disease were not present. Our patient shows striking similarity to two patients who have been published in this journal by ONeill et al. [ONeill et al. (2007); Am J Med Genet Part A 143A:1421-1430] with the diagnosis of neonatal progeroid syndrome (NPS). This condition also known as Wiedemann-Rautenstrauch syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by accelerated aging and lipodystrophy from birth, poor postnatal weight gain, and characteristic facial features. The course is usually progressive with early lethality. However this entity seems heterogeneous. We suggest that our patient and the two similar cases described before represent a new entity, a subgroup of MFS with overlapping features to NPS syndrome.
Mutations in THAP1 have been associated with dystonia 6. THAP1 encodes a transcription factor with mostly unknown targets. We tested the hypothesis that THAP1 regulates the expression of DYT1 (TOR1A), another dystonia-causing gene. After characterization of the TOR1A promoter, we demonstrate that THAP1 binds to the core promoter of TOR1A. Further, we report that wild type THAP1 represses the expression of TOR1A, whereas dystonia 6-associated mutant THAP1 results in decreased repression of TOR1A. Our data demonstrate that THAP1 regulates the transcription of TOR1A, suggesting transcriptional dysregulation as a cause of dystonia.
Syndromic forms of disorders of sex development constitute a challenge for clinical and molecular investigations. We report on a 12-year-old girl presenting with lack of pubertal development, tall stature and moderate mental retardation. Conventional karyotyping at the age of 3 years revealed a male karyotype (46,XY). At the age of 12 years, the girl had no signs of puberty, and laboratory values were consistent with hypergonadotropic hypogonadism because of complete gonadal dysgenesis. Histology at the time of gonadectomy revealed fibrous tissue without testicular morphology. Cytogenetic reevaluation at that time showed additional material of unknown origin on the short arm of chromosome 9. Subsequent fluorescence in-situ hybridization and Array-CGH analyses revealed an unbalanced translocation between 9p and 15q resulting in a partial monosomy of 9p and a partial trisomy of 15q. The karyotype was described as 46,XY,der(9)t(9;15)(p23;q25.3). We discuss the clinical and molecular cytogenetic findings with respect to the literature.
We have previously shown that mutations in the genes encoding DNA Ligase IV (LIGIV) and RAD50, involved in DNA repair by nonhomologous-end joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination, respectively, lead to clinical and cellular features similar to those of Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome (NBS). Very recently, a new member of the NHEJ repair pathway, NHEJ1, was discovered, and mutations in patients with features resembling NBS were described. Here we report on five patients from four families of different ethnic origin with the NBS-like phenotype. Sequence analysis of the NHEJ1 gene in a patient of Spanish and in a patient of Turkish origin identified homozygous, previously reported mutations, c.168C>G (p.Arg57Gly) and c.532C>T (p.Arg178Ter), respectively. Two novel, paternally inherited truncating mutations, c.495dupA (p.Asp166ArgfsTer20) and c.526C>T (p.Arg176Ter) and two novel, maternal genomic deletions of 1.9 and 6.9 kb of the NHEJ1 gene, were found in a compound heterozygous state in two siblings of German origin and in one Malaysian patient, respectively. Our findings confirm that patients with NBS-like phenotypes may have mutations in the NHEJ1 gene including multiexon deletions, and show that considerable clinical variability could be observed even within the same family.
Persistent hyperphosphatasia associated with developmental delay and seizures was described in a single family by Mabry et al. 1970 (OMIM 239300), but the nosology of this condition has remained uncertain ever since. We report on five new patients (two siblings, one offspring of consanguineous parents, and two sporadic patients) that help delineate this distinctive disorder and provide evidence in favor of autosomal recessive inheritance. Common to all five new patients is facial dysmorphism, namely hypertelorism, a broad nasal bridge and a tented mouth. All patients have some degree of brachytelephalangy but the phalangeal shortening varies in position and degree. In all, there is a persistent elevation of alkaline phosphatase activity without any evidence for active bone or liver disease. The degree of hyperphosphatasia varies considerably ( approximately 1.3-20 times the upper age-adjusted reference limit) between patients, but is relatively constant over time. In the first family described by Mabry et al. 1970, at least one member was found to have intracellular inclusions on biopsy of some but not all tissues. This was confirmed in three of our patients, but the inclusions are not always observed and the intracellular storage material has not been identified.
Microdeletions of the 2q31.1 region are rare. We present the clinical and molecular findings of eight previously unreported patients with overlapping deletions in 2q31.1. The patients have a variable clinical phenotype and present with developmental delay (7/8), growth retardation (5/8), seizures (2/8) and a craniofacial dysmorphism consisting of microcephaly (4/8), short palpebral fissures (7/8), broad eyebrows with lateral flare (7/8), low-set ears with thickened helices and lobules (5/8), and micrognathia (6/8). Additional congenital anomalies were noted, including limb abnormalities (8/8), heart defects (3/8), genital anomalies (3/8), and craniosynostosis (1/8). Six of these microdeletions, ranging in size from 1.24 to 8.35 Mb, were identified by array CGH, one larger deletion (19.7 Mb) was detected by conventional karyotyping and further characterized by array CGH analysis. The smallest region of overlap in all eight patients spans at most 88 kb and includes only the WIPF1 gene. This gene codes for the WAS/WASL interacting protein family member 1. The patients described here do not present with clinical signs of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and the deletion of this single gene does not allow explaining the phenotype in our patients. It is likely that the deletion of different but overlapping sets of genes from 2q31 is responsible for the clinical variability in these patients. To further dissect the complex phenotype associated with deletions in 2q31, additional patients with overlapping phenotypes should be examined with array CGH. This should help to link particular phenotypes to specific genes, and add to our understanding of the underlying developmental processes.
Seizure disorders of the rolandic region comprise a spectrum of different epilepsy syndromes ranging from benign rolandic epilepsy to more severe seizure disorders including atypical benign partial epilepsy/pseudo-Lennox syndrome,electrical status epilepticus during sleep, and Landau-Kleffner syndrome. Centrotemporal spikes are the unifying electroencephalographic hallmark of these benign focal epilepsies, indicating a pathophysiologic relationship between the various epilepsies arising from the rolandic region. The etiology of these epilepsies is elusive, but a genetic component is assumed given the heritability of the characteristic electrographic trait. Herein we report on three patients with intellectual disability, various dysmorphic features, and epilepsies involving the rolandic region, carrying previously undescribed deletions in 16p13. The only gene located in the critical region shared by all three patients is GRIN2A coding for the alpha-2 subunit of the neuronal N-methyl-D-aspartate(NMDA) receptor.
Structural genome aberrations are frequently associated with highly variable congenital phenotypes involving mental retardation and developmental delay. Although some of these aberrations may result in recognizable phenotypes, a high degree of phenotypic variability often complicates a comprehensive clinical and genetic diagnosis. We describe four patients with overlapping deletions in chromosomal region 1q44, who show developmental delay, in particular of expressive speech, seizures, hypotonia, CNS anomalies, including variable thickness of the abnormal corpus callosum in three of them. High resolution oligonucleotide and SNP array-based segmental aneuploidy profiling showed that these three patients share a 0.440 Mb interstitial deletion, which does not overlap with previously published consensus regions of 1q44 deletions. Two copies of AKT3 and ZNF238, two previously proposed dosage sensitive candidate genes for microcephaly and agenesis of the corpus callosum, were retained in two of our patients. The deletion shared by our patients encompassed the FAM36A, HNRPU, EFCAB2 and KIF26B genes. Since HNRPU is involved in the regulation of embryonic brain development, this represents a novel plausible candidate gene for the combination of developmental delay, speech delay, hypotonia, hypo- or agenesis of the corpus callosum, and seizures in patients with 1q44 deletions. Since only one of the two patients with deletions including the ZNF124 gene showed a vermis hypoplasia, mere hemizygosity for this gene is not sufficient to cause this anomaly. Moreover, to reconcile the variability in the corpus callosum thickness, additional mechanisms, such as unmasking of hemizygous mutations, position effects and possible interactions with other loci need consideration.
Autosomal dominantly inherited spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are a heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative disorders primarily affecting the cerebellum. Genetically, 26 different loci have been identified so far, although the corresponding gene has not yet been determined for 10 of them. Recently, mutations in the ATPase family gene 3-like 2 gene were presented to cause SCA type 28. To define the frequency of SCA28 mutations, we performed molecular genetic analyses in 140 unrelated familial cases with ataxia. Among other variations, we found a novel missense mutation at an evolutionarily conserved amino-acid position using a single-strand conformation polymorphism approach, followed by DNA sequencing. This amino-acid exchange p.E700K was detected in a four-generation German family and was not observed in a survey of 400 chromosomes from healthy control individuals.
Tetraploidy is a very rare finding in live-born infants. Nine infants with tetraploidy have been reported earlier. The phenotype is of variable severity and consists of prenatal and/or postnatal growth retardation, developmental delay, mental retardation, dysmorphic features, and skeletal and internal abnormalities. Here we present a girl aged 2 years and 7 months with a mosaic tetraploidy detected in lymphocytes, and a newborn boy with a complete tetraploidy, who died 30 h after birth. They both show growth retardation, microcephaly, developmental delay, and craniofacial dysmorphisms. The clinical features of 22 patients reported earlier are reviewed.
Small supernumerary marker chromosomes (sSMCs) are a major problem in prenatal cytogenetic diagnostics. Over two-thirds of cases carrying an sSMC derived from chromosome 1 are associated with clinical abnormalities. We report 3 further cases of such sSMCs that did not show any clinical abnormalities. All 3 sSMCs studied were detected prenatally and characterized comprehensively for their genetic content by molecular cytogenetics using subcentromere-specific multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization, and for a possibly associated uniparental disomy. After exclusion of additional euchromatin due to the presence of sSMCs and a uniparental disomy, parents opted for continuation of the pregnancies and healthy children were born in all 3 cases. It is important to quickly and clearly characterize prenatal sSMCs. Also, all available sSMC cases need to be collected on a homepage such as the Jena Institute of Human Genetics and Anthropology sSMC homepage (http://www.med.uni-jena.de/fish/sSMC/00START.htm).
Noonan syndrome (NS) and related disorders are autosomal dominant disorders characterized by heart defects, facial dysmorphism, ectodermal abnormalities, and mental retardation. The dysregulation of the RAS/MAPK pathway appears to be a common molecular pathogenesis of these disorders: mutations in PTPN11, KRAS, and SOS1 have been identified in patients with NS, those in KRAS, BRAF, MAP2K1, and MAP2K2 in patients with CFC syndrome, and those in HRAS mutations in Costello syndrome patients. Recently, mutations in RAF1 have been also identified in patients with NS and two patients with LEOPARD (multiple lentigines, electrocardiographic conduction abnormalities, ocular hypertelorism, pulmonary stenosis, abnormal genitalia, retardation of growth, and sensorineural deafness) syndrome. In the current study, we identified eight RAF1 mutations in 18 of 119 patients with NS and related conditions without mutations in known genes. We summarized clinical manifestations in patients with RAF1 mutations as well as those in NS patients withPTPN11, SOS1, or KRAS mutations previously reported. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and short stature were found to be more frequently observed in patients with RAF1 mutations. Mutations in RAF1 were clustered in the conserved region 2 (CR2) domain, which carries an inhibitory phosphorylation site (serine at position 259; S259). Functional studies revealed that the RAF1 mutants located in the CR2 domain resulted in the decreased phosphorylation of S259, and that mutant RAF1 then dissociated from 14-3-3, leading to a partial ERK activation. Our results suggest that the dephosphorylation of S259 is the primary pathogenic mechanism in the activation of RAF1 mutants located in the CR2 domain as well as of downstream ERK.
BACKGROUND Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are believed to destabilise genomic imprints. An increased frequency of Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome in children born after ART has been reported. Other, mostly epidemiological, studies argue against this finding. OBJECTIVE To examine the effect of ART on the stability of DNA methylation imprints, DNA was extracted from maternal peripheral blood (MPB), umbilical cord blood (UCB) and amnion/chorion tissue (ACT) of 185 phenotypically normal children (77 ICSI, 35 IVF, and 73 spontaneous conceptions). Using bisulfite based technologies 10 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were analysed, including KvDMR1, H19, SNRPN, MEST, GRB10, DLK1/MEG3 IG-DMR, GNAS NESP55, GNAS NESPas, GNAS XL-alpha-s and GNAS Exon1A. RESULTS Methylation indices (MI) do not reveal any significant differences at nine DMRs among the conception groups in neither MPB, UCB nor in ACT. The only slightly variable DMR was that of MEST. Here the mean MI was higher in UCB and MPB of IVF cases (mean MI+/-SD: 0.41+/-0.03 (UCB) and 0.40+/-0.03 (MPB)) compared to the ICSI (0.38+/-0.03, p=0.003 (UCB); 0.37+/-0.04, p=0.0007 (MPB)) or spontaneous cases (0.38+/-0.03, p=0.003 (UCB); 0.38+/-0.04, p=0.02 (MPB)). Weak but suggestive correlations between DMRs were, however, found between MPB, UCB and ACT. CONCLUSION This study supports the notion that children conceived by ART do not show a higher degree of imprint variability and hence do not have an a priori higher risk for imprinting disorders.
The Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome (RTS; OMIM 180849) is a well-defined mental retardation/multiple congenital anomalies (MR/MCA) syndrome characterized by postnatal growth retardation, microcephaly, specific facial features, broad thumbs and halluces, and MR of variable degree. Ten percent of patients with RTS have a microdeletion 16p13.3, 40-50% carry a mutation of the CREBBP gene and another 3% have a mutation in the EP300 gene. In the remaining patients with clinically suspected RTS no mutation can be detected. Here we describe two patients with an RTS phenotype, one with a mutation in the CREBBP gene and the other without a detectable CREBBP or EP300 mutation and without a chromosomal imbalance on high-resolution arrays. Both patients present with the characteristic facial RTS phenotype, broad thumbs and big toes, mild MR, formation of keloids and glaucoma, but without postnatal growth retardation or microcephaly. In addition, they have both congenital camptodactyly of third (and fourth) fingers, which has not reported in RTS previously. We suggest that they represent a clinical subtype of RTS.
Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome (NBS) is an infrequently described condition, thus far reported in five cases. In order to delineate the phenotype and its natural history in more detail, we gathered data on 18 hitherto unreported patients through a multi-center collaborative study, and follow-up data of the earlier reported patients. A detailed comparison of the 23 patients is provided. NBS is a distinct and recognizable entity, and probably has been underdiagnosed until now. Main clinical features are severe mental retardation with absent or limited speech, seizures, short stature, sparse hair, typical facial characteristics, brachydactyly, prominent finger joints and broad distal phalanges. Some of the features are progressive with time. The main differential diagnosis is Coffin-Siris syndrome. There is no important gender difference in occurrence and frequency of the syndrome, and all cases have been sporadic thus far. Microarray analysis performed in 14 of the patients gave normal results. Except for the progressive nature there are no clues to the cause.
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an autosomal dominant human disorder of bone formation that causes developmental skeletal defects and extensive debilitating bone formation within soft connective tissues (heterotopic ossification) during childhood. All patients with classic clinical features of FOP (great toe malformations and progressive heterotopic ossification) have previously been found to carry the same heterozygous mutation (c.617G>A; p.R206H) in the glycine and serine residue (GS) activation domain of activin A type I receptor/activin-like kinase 2 (ACVR1/ALK2), a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type I receptor. Among patients with FOP-like heterotopic ossification and/or toe malformations, we identified patients with clinical features unusual for FOP. These atypical FOP patients form two classes: FOP-plus (classic defining features of FOP plus one or more atypical features) and FOP variants (major variations in one or both of the two classic defining features of FOP). All patients examined have heterozygous ACVR1 missense mutations in conserved amino acids. While the recurrent c.617G>A; p.R206H mutation was found in all cases of classic FOP and most cases of FOP-plus, novel ACVR1 mutations occur in the FOP variants and two cases of FOP-plus. Protein structure homology modeling predicts that each of the amino acid substitutions activates the ACVR1 protein to enhance receptor signaling. We observed genotype-phenotype correlation between some ACVR1 mutations and the age of onset of heterotopic ossification or on embryonic skeletal development.
The autosomal recessively inherited ataxia with oculomotor apraxia 2 (AOA2) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by juvenile or adolescent age of onset, gait ataxia, cerebellar atrophy, axonal sensorimotor neuropathy, oculomotor apraxia, and elevated serum AFP levels. AOA2 is caused by mutations within the senataxin gene (SETX). The majority of known mutations are nonsense, missense, and splice site mutations, as well as small deletions and insertions.
Partial deletions of the long arm of chromosome 13 lead to variable phenotypes dependant on the size and position of the deleted region. In order to update the phenotypic map of chromosome 13q21.1-qter deletions, we applied 244k Agilent oligonucleotide-based array-CGH to determine the exact breakpoints in 14 patients with partial deletions of this region. Subsequently, we linked the genotype to the patients phenotype. Using this approach, we were able to refine the smallest deletion region linked to short stature (13q31.3: 89.5-91.6 Mb), microcephaly (13q33.3-q34), cortical development malformations (13q33.1-qter), Dandy-Walker malformation (DWM) (13q32.2-q33.1), corpus callosum agenesis (CCA) (13q32.3-q33.1), meningocele/encephalocele (13q31.3-qter), DWM, CCA, and neural tube defects (NTDs) taken together (13q32.3-q33.1), ano-/microphthalmia (13q31.3-13qter), cleft lip/palate (13q31.3-13q33.1), lung hypoplasia (13q31.3-13q33.1), and thumb a-/hypoplasia (13q31.3-q33.1 and 13q33.3-q34). Based on observations of this study and previous reports we suggest a new entity, "distal limb anomalies association," linked to 13q31.3q33.1 segment. Most of the individuals with deletion of any part of 13q21qter showed surprisingly similar facial dysmorphic features, and thus, a "13q deletion facial appearance" was suggested. Prominent nasal columella was mapped between 13q31.3 and 13q33.3, and micrognathia between 13q21.33 and 13q31.1. The degree of mental delay did not display a particular phenotype-genotype correlation on chromosome 13. In contrast to previous reports of carriers of 13q32 band deletions as the most seriously affected patients, we present two such individuals with long-term survival, 28 and 2.5 years.
Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS, OMIM 154500) is a well-defined mandibulofacial dysostosis characterized by symmetric facial anomalies consisting of malar hypoplasia, coloboma of the lower eyelid, dysplastic ears, micrognathia, cleft palate and deafness. Other mandibulofacial dysostoses (MDs) such as Toriello (OMIM 301950), Bauru (OMIM 604830), Hedera-Toriello-Petty (OMIM 608257), and Guion-Almeida (OMIM 610536) syndromes are less well characterized and much rarer. Here we describe three unrelated patients showing clinical features overlapping with TCS, but who in addition have developmental delay, microcephaly and a distinct facial gestalt. Because of the distinct ear anomalies and the hearing loss a HOXA2 mutation was taken into account. CHARGE syndrome was discussed because of ear anomalies, choanal atresia, and developmental delay in our patients. But mutational analyses including sequencing of the TCOF1, the HOXA2, and the CHD7 genes, deletion screening of the TCOF1 gene as well as genomewide array analyses revealed normal results. We suggest that these three patients have a new type of mandibulofacial dysostosis. As all three cases are sporadic and both sexes are affected the pattern of inheritance might be autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive. Identification of additional patients will allow to further delineate the phenotype, to assign the inheritance pattern and to identify the molecular basis.
Autosomal recessive cutis laxa type 2 (ARCL2), a syndrome of growth and developmental delay and redundant, inelastic skin, is caused by mutations in the a2 subunit of the vesicular ATPase H+-pump (ATP6V0A2). The goal of this study was to define the disease mechanisms that lead to connective tissue lesions in ARCL2. In a new cohort of 17 patients, DNA sequencing of ATP6V0A2 detected either homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations. Considerable allelic and phenotypic heterogeneity was observed, with a missense mutation of a moderately conserved residue p.P87L leading to unusually mild disease. Abnormal N- and/or mucin type O-glycosylation was observed in all patients tested. Premature stop codon mutations led to decreased ATP6V0A2 mRNA levels by destabilizing the mutant mRNA via the nonsense-mediated decay pathway. Loss of ATP6V0A2 either by siRNA knockdown or in ARCL2 cells resulted in distended Golgi cisternae, accumulation of abnormal lysosomes and multivesicular bodies. Immunostaining of ARCL2 cells showed the accumulation of tropoelastin (TE) in the Golgi and in large, abnormal intracellular and extracellular aggregates. Pulse-chase studies confirmed impaired secretion and increased intracellular retention of TE, and insoluble elastin assays showed significantly reduced extracellular deposition of mature elastin. Fibrillin-1 microfibril assembly and secreted lysyl oxidase activity were normal in ARCL2 cells. TUNEL staining demonstrated increased rates of apoptosis in ARCL2 cell cultures. We conclude that loss-of-function mutations in ATP6V0A2 lead to TE aggregation in the Golgi, impaired clearance of TE aggregates and increased apoptosis of elastogenic cells.
The spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) with autosomal dominant inheritance are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of neurological disorders with overlapping as well as highly variable phenotypes primarily affecting the cerebellum. To date, 28 different loci have been identified. Nine SCAs are caused by repeat expansions; for 14 only the chromosomal localisation is known. Recently, two frameshift mutations in the tau tubulin kinase 2 gene (TTBK2) were reported to cause SCA11. To evaluate the frequency of mutations in the TTBK2 gene, we performed molecular genetic analyses in 49 unrelated familial cases with ataxia. Sequencing all coding exons revealed, amongst others, two novel missense exchanges at evolutionarily conserved amino acid positions. Although being unique in 98 alleles of ataxia patients, a disease causing effect can be excluded with high probability for both variations. This result demonstrates the challenges in diagnostic testing for SCA11.
Focal dermal hypoplasia (FDH) is an X-linked developmental disorder with male lethality characterized by patchy dermal hypoplasia, skeletal and dental malformations, and microphthalmia or anophthalmia. Recently, heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the PORCN gene have been described to cause FDH. FDH shows some clinical overlap with the microphthalmia with linear skin defects (MLS) syndrome, another X-linked male lethal condition, associated with mutations of HCCS in the majority of cases. We performed DNA sequencing of PORCN in 13 female patients with the clinical diagnosis of FDH as well as four female patients with MLS syndrome and no mutation in HCCS. We identified PORCN mutations in all female patients with FDH. Eleven patients seem to have constitutional PORCN alterations in the heterozygous state and two individuals are mosaic for the heterozygous sequence change in PORCN. No PORCN mutation was identified in the MLS-affected patients, providing further evidence that FDH and MLS do not overlap genetically. X chromosome inactivation (XCI) analysis revealed a random or slightly skewed XCI pattern in leukocytes of individuals with intragenic PORCN mutation suggesting that defective PORCN does not lead to selective growth disadvantage, at least in leukocytes. We conclude that the PORCN mutation detection rate is high in individuals with a clear-cut FDH phenotype and somatic mosaicism can be present in a significant proportion of patients with mild or classic FDH.
Disorders of sex development comprise an array of congenital conditions with atypical development of chromosomal, gonadal, and anatomical sex affecting the genitourinary tract and in most instances also the endocrine-reproductive system. While the molecular basis of some of these disorders has been well established, it remains elusive in others. This holds true especially for disorders of sex development that are associated with other congenital malformations and abnormalities in a syndromic condition. Syndromic disorders of sex development may be due to monogenic defects, biochemical abnormalities of steroid synthesis, or cytogenetic abnormalities comprising microdeletions or duplications or unbalanced rearrangements. This review will focus on the clinical description of syndromic disorders of sex development guiding towards the genetic classification. The characterization of the underlying diagnosis will improve genetic counseling of the family including prognosis and recurrence risk.
The 3M syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive disorder recently ascribed to mutations in the CUL7 gene and characterized by severe pre- and postnatal growth retardation. Studying a series of 33 novel cases of 3M syndrome, we have identified deleterious CUL7 mutations in 23/33 patients, including 19 novel mutations and one paternal isodisomy of chromosome 6 encompassing a CUL7 mutation. Lack of mutations in 10/33 cases and exclusion of the CUL7 locus on chromosome 6p21.1 in six consanguineous families strongly support the genetic heterogeneity of the 3M syndrome.
An international group of clinicians working in the field of dysmorphology has initiated the standardization of terms used to describe human morphology. The goals are to standardize these terms and reach consensus regarding their definitions. In this way, we will increase the utility of descriptions of the human phenotype and facilitate reliable comparisons of findings among patients. Discussions with other workers in dysmorphology and related fields, such as developmental biology and molecular genetics, will become more precise. Here we introduce the anatomy of the ear and define and illustrate the terms that describe the major characteristics of the ear.
For prospective parents at risk of transmitting a monogenic disease, polar body analysis is an option for pre-conception genetic diagnosis. In Germany, polar body analysis is currently performed in only two centers (Lübeck and Regensburg).
Various genes located at imprinted loci and regulated by epigenetic mechanisms are involved in the control of growth and differentiation. The broad phenotypic variability of imprinting disorders suggests that individuals with inborn errors of imprinting might remain undetected among patients born small for gestational age (SGA). We evaluated quantitative DNA methylation analysis at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) of 10 imprinted loci (PLAGL1, IGF2R DMR2, GRB10, H19 DMR, IGF2, MEG3, NDN, SNRPN, NESP, NESPAS) by bisulphite pyrosequencing in 98 patients born SGA and 50 controls. For IGF2R DMR2, methylation patterns of additional 47 parent pairs and one mother (95 individuals) of patients included in the SGA cohort were analyzed. In six out of 98 patients born SGA, we detected DNA methylation changes at single loci. In one child, the diagnosis of upd(14)mat syndrome owing to an epimutation of the MEG3 locus in 14q32 could be established. The remaining five patients showed hypomethylation at GRB10 (n=2), hypomethylation at the H19 3CTCF-binding site (n=1), hypermethylation at NDN (n=1) and hypermethylation at IGF2 (n=1). IGF2R DMR2 hypermethylation was detected in five patients, six parents of patients in the SGA cohort and two controls. We conclude that aberrant methylation at imprinted loci in children born SGA exists but seems to be rare if known imprinting syndromes are excluded. Further investigations on the physiological variations and the functional consequences of the detected aberrant methylation are necessary before final conclusions on the clinical impact can be drawn.
Chromosome 8p23.1 is a common hotspot associated with major congenital malformations, including congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and cardiac defects. We present findings from high-resolution arrays in patients who carry a loss (n?=?18) or a gain (n?=?1) of sub-band 8p23.1. We confirm a region involved in both diaphragmatic and heart malformations. Results from a novel CNVConnect algorithm, prioritizing protein-protein interactions between products of genes in the 8p23.1 hotspot and products of previously known CDH causing genes, implicated GATA4, NEIL2, and SOX7 in diaphragmatic defects. Sequence analysis of these genes in 226 chromosomally normal CDH patients, as well as in a small number of deletion 8p23.1 patients, showed rare unreported variants in the coding region; these may be contributing to the diaphragmatic phenotype. We also demonstrated that two of these three genes were expressed in the E11.5-12.5 primordial mouse diaphragm, the developmental stage at which CDH is thought to occur. This combination of bioinformatics and expression studies can be applied to other chromosomal hotspots, as well as private microdeletions or microduplications, to identify causative genes and their interaction networks.
Carpenter syndrome is an autosomal-recessive multiple-congenital-malformation disorder characterized by multisuture craniosynostosis and polysyndactyly of the hands and feet; many other clinical features occur, and the most frequent include obesity, umbilical hernia, cryptorchidism, and congenital heart disease. Mutations of RAB23, encoding a small GTPase that regulates vesicular transport, are present in the majority of cases. Here, we describe a disorder caused by mutations in multiple epidermal-growth-factor-like-domains 8 (MEGF8), which exhibits substantial clinical overlap with Carpenter syndrome but is frequently associated with abnormal left-right patterning. We describe five affected individuals with similar dysmorphic facies, and three of them had either complete situs inversus, dextrocardia, or transposition of the great arteries; similar cardiac abnormalities were previously identified in a mouse mutant for the orthologous Megf8. The mutant alleles comprise one nonsense, three missense, and two splice-site mutations; we demonstrate in zebrafish that, in contrast to the wild-type protein, the proteins containing all three missense alterations provide only weak rescue of an early gastrulation phenotype induced by Megf8 knockdown. We conclude that mutations in MEGF8 cause a Carpenter syndrome subtype frequently associated with defective left-right patterning, probably through perturbation of signaling by hedgehog and nodal family members. We did not observe any subject with biallelic loss-of function mutations, suggesting that some residual MEGF8 function might be necessary for survival and might influence the phenotypes observed.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a dominantly inherited congenital malformation disorder, caused by mutations in the cohesin-loading protein NIPBL for nearly 60% of individuals with classical CdLS, and by mutations in the core cohesin components SMC1A (~5%) and SMC3 (<1%) for a smaller fraction of probands. In humans, the multisubunit complex cohesin is made up of SMC1, SMC3, RAD21 and a STAG protein. These form a ring structure that is proposed to encircle sister chromatids to mediate sister chromatid cohesion and also has key roles in gene regulation. SMC3 is acetylated during S-phase to establish cohesiveness of chromatin-loaded cohesin, and in yeast, the class I histone deacetylase Hos1 deacetylates SMC3 during anaphase. Here we identify HDAC8 as the vertebrate SMC3 deacetylase, as well as loss-of-function HDAC8 mutations in six CdLS probands. Loss of HDAC8 activity results in increased SMC3 acetylation and inefficient dissolution of the ‘used’ cohesin complex released from chromatin in both prophase and anaphase. SMC3 with retained acetylation is loaded onto chromatin, and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing analysis demonstrates decreased occupancy of cohesin localization sites that results in a consistent pattern of altered transcription seen in CdLS cell lines with either NIPBL or HDAC8 mutations.
The evolutionarily conserved cohesin complex was originally described for its role in regulating sister-chromatid cohesion during mitosis and meiosis. Cohesin and its regulatory proteins have been implicated in several human developmental disorders, including Cornelia de Lange (CdLS) and Roberts syndromes. Here we show that human mutations in the integral cohesin structural protein RAD21 result in a congenital phenotype consistent with a "cohesinopathy." Children with RAD21 mutations display growth retardation, minor skeletal anomalies, and facial features that overlap findings in individuals with CdLS. Notably, unlike children with mutations in NIPBL, SMC1A, or SMC3, these individuals have much milder cognitive impairment than those with classical CdLS. Mechanistically, these mutations act at the RAD21 interface with the other cohesin proteins STAG2 and SMC1A, impair cellular DNA damage response, and disrupt transcription in a zebrafish model. Our data suggest that, compared to loss-of-function mutations, dominant missense mutations result in more severe functional defects and cause worse structural and cognitive clinical findings. These results underscore the essential role of RAD21 in eukaryotes and emphasize the need for further understanding of the role of cohesin in human development.
Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome (NBS) is characterized by sparse hair, distinctive facial morphology, distal-limb anomalies and intellectual disability. We sequenced the exomes of ten individuals with NBS and identified heterozygous variants in SMARCA2 in eight of them. Extended molecular screening identified nonsynonymous SMARCA2 mutations in 36 of 44 individuals with NBS; these mutations were confirmed to be de novo when parental samples were available. SMARCA2 encodes the core catalytic unit of the SWI/SNF ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complex that is involved in the regulation of gene transcription. The mutations cluster within sequences that encode ultra-conserved motifs in the catalytic ATPase region of the protein. These alterations likely do not impair SWI/SNF complex assembly but may be associated with disrupted ATPase activity. The identification of SMARCA2 mutations in humans provides insight into the function of the Snf2 helicase family.
Mandibulofacial dysostosis with microcephaly (MFDM) is a rare sporadic syndrome comprising craniofacial malformations, microcephaly, developmental delay, and a recognizable dysmorphic appearance. Major sequelae, including choanal atresia, sensorineural hearing loss, and cleft palate, each occur in a significant proportion of affected individuals. We present detailed clinical findings in 12 unrelated individuals with MFDM; these 12 individuals compose the largest reported cohort to date. To define the etiology of MFDM, we employed whole-exome sequencing of four unrelated affected individuals and identified heterozygous mutations or deletions of EFTUD2 in all four. Validation studies of eight additional individuals with MFDM demonstrated causative EFTUD2 mutations in all affected individuals tested. A range of EFTUD2-mutation types, including null alleles and frameshifts, is seen in MFDM, consistent with haploinsufficiency; segregation is de novo in all cases assessed to date. U5-116kD, the protein encoded by EFTUD2, is a highly conserved spliceosomal GTPase with a central regulatory role in catalytic splicing and post-splicing-complex disassembly. MFDM is the first multiple-malformation syndrome attributed to a defect of the major spliceosome. Our findings significantly extend the range of reported spliceosomal phenotypes in humans and pave the way for further investigation in related conditions such as Treacher Collins syndrome.
Genitopatellar syndrome (GPS) is a rare disorder in which patellar aplasia or hypoplasia is associated with external genital anomalies and severe intellectual disability. Using an exome-sequencing approach, we identified de novo mutations of KAT6B in five individuals with GPS; a single nonsense variant and three frameshift indels, including a 4 bp deletion observed in two cases. All identified mutations are located within the terminal exon of the gene and are predicted to generate a truncated protein product lacking evolutionarily conserved domains. KAT6B encodes a member of the MYST family of histone acetyltranferases. We demonstrate a reduced level of both histone H3 and H4 acetylation in patient-derived cells suggesting that dysregulation of histone acetylation is a direct functional consequence of GPS alleles. These findings define the genetic basis of GPS and illustrate the complex role of the regulation of histone acetylation during development.
Floating-Harbor syndrome (FHS) is a rare condition characterized by short stature, delayed osseous maturation, expressive-language deficits, and a distinctive facial appearance. Occurrence is generally sporadic, although parent-to-child transmission has been reported on occasion. Employing whole-exome sequencing, we identified heterozygous truncating mutations in SRCAP in five unrelated individuals with sporadic FHS. Sanger sequencing identified mutations in SRCAP in eight more affected persons. Mutations were de novo in all six instances in which parental DNA was available. SRCAP is an SNF2-related chromatin-remodeling factor that serves as a coactivator for CREB-binding protein (CREBBP, better known as CBP, the major cause of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome [RTS]). Five SRCAP mutations, two of which are recurrent, were identified; all are tightly clustered within a small (111 codon) region of the final exon. These mutations are predicted to abolish three C-terminal AT-hook DNA-binding motifs while leaving the CBP-binding and ATPase domains intact. Our findings show that SRCAP mutations are the major cause of FHS and offer an explanation for the clinical overlap between FHS and RTS.
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