Publications by authors named "Alessia Asaro"

6 Publications

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A novel homozygous variant in JAM3 gene causing hemorrhagic destruction of the brain, subependymal calcification, and congenital cataracts (HDBSCC) with neonatal onset.

Neurol Sci 2021 Jul 22. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.

Background: JAM3 gene, located on human chromosome 11q25, encodes a member of the junctional adhesion molecule (JAM) family. Mutations of this gene are associated with hemorrhagic destruction of the brain, subependymal calcification, and congenital cataracts (HDBSCC).

Case Report: Herein, we present a newborn male with a prenatal suspicion of bilateral cataracts but without fetal ultrasound findings of cortical malformations. He was postnatally diagnosed with a clinical picture of HDBSCC and Early-onset Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy (DEE), associated to a homozygous variant of JAM3 gene.

Conclusion: Identification of this variant in affected individuals has implications for perinatal and postnatal management and genetic counseling. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case reported of a child with a JAM3 variant in Italy, from a different ethnic background than the other reported children until now (Saudi Arabian, Turkish, Afghani, and Moroccan origin). JAM3 screening could be requested in prenatal diagnosis of fetal congenital cataracts and included in Next-Generation DNA Sequencing panels.
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July 2021

Diagnostic Yield and Cost-Effectiveness of "Dynamic" Exome Analysis in Epilepsy with Neurodevelopmental Disorders: A Tertiary-Center Experience in Northern Italy.

Diagnostics (Basel) 2021 May 25;11(6). Epub 2021 May 25.

Department of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, 27100 Pavia, Italy.

Background: The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques in clinical practice led to a significant advance in gene discovery. We aimed to describe diagnostic yields of a "dynamic" exome-based approach in a cohort of patients with epilepsy associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, observational study on 72 probands. All patients underwent a first diagnostic level of a 135 gene panel, a second of 297 genes for inconclusive cases, and finally, a whole-exome sequencing for negative cases. Diagnostic yields at each step and cost-effectiveness were the objects of statistical analysis.

Results: Overall diagnostic yield in our cohort was 37.5%: 29% of diagnoses derived from the first step analysis, 5.5% from the second step, and 3% from the third. A significant difference emerged between the three diagnostic steps ( < 0.01), between the first and second ( = 0.001), and the first and third ( << 0.001). The cost-effectiveness plane indicated that our exome-based "dynamic" approach was better in terms of cost savings and higher diagnostic rate.

Conclusions: Our findings suggested that "dynamic" NGS techniques applied to well-phenotyped individuals can save both time and resources. In patients with unexplained epilepsy comorbid with NDDs, our approach might maximize the number of diagnoses achieved.
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May 2021

Variable expressivity of a familial 1.9 Mb microdeletion in 3q28 leading to haploinsufficiency of TP63: Refinement of the critical region for a new microdeletion phenotype.

Eur J Med Genet 2015 Aug 24;58(8):400-5. Epub 2015 Jun 24.

Institute of Medical Genetics, Università Cattolica S. Cuore, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

We report on a 3-year-old male with intellectual disability (ID), characteristic facial features, polydactyly and epilepsy carrying a paternally inherited 3q28 deletion of 1.9 Mb. The father, carrying the same deletion, presents with cleft palate, nail dystrophy and learning difficulties. The deleted region in this family is one of the smallest so far reported among genomic deletions affecting 3q27-3q28 for which some phenotypic descriptions are available. In particular, since the phenotype of our proband is strikingly similar to that previously described in a patient with a 9.3 Mb deletion, the deletion identified in this report contributes to the definition of the molecular boundaries of a genomic region responsible for a distinct clinical phenotype. Within the deleted interval there are 9 annotated genes, including TP63. Gain of function mutations of TP63 are known to be responsible for a group of conditions with distal limb and ectodermal involvement, such as ADULT, EEC, LMS, and SHFM4 syndromes. Interestingly, our cases demonstrate a milder phenotypic effect for loss of function of this gene.
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August 2015

Unique genomic profile associated with pediatric uveal melanoma.

Eur J Ophthalmol 2015 Jul-Aug;25(4):e31-4

Purpose: To determine genetic features of a pediatric uveal melanoma in a 6-year-old girl by array-based comparative genomic hybridization (a-CGH) and assess prognosis, and to search for constitutional copy number variations (CNVs) encompassing oncosuppressor genes.

Methods: High-resolution a-CGH was performed on genomic DNA from cancer cells and from peripheral blood cells. Histopathology and clinical staging of the tumor were simultaneously assessed.

Results: Array-based CGH revealed no CNVs on tumor cells associated with poor prognosis; namely, no monosomy 3, losses of 1p, 6q, or 8p, and no gains of 8q. A unique genomic profile was observed, consisting mainly of partial terminal duplications affecting chromosomes 1, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 16, and 19, and complete trisomy of chromosomes 6, 7, and 20. The nonmetastatic tumor had predominantly epithelioid histology. No constitutional CNVs encompassing oncosuppressor genes were detected.

Conclusions: We report a very rare uveal melanoma characterized by low-risk genomic profile and poor prognostic histologic and clinical features. The child is relapse-free at 1-year follow-up. The unusual CNVs detected by a-CGH suggest specific pathogenic mechanisms.
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September 2015

Novel de novo heterozygous loss-of-function variants in MED13L and further delineation of the MED13L haploinsufficiency syndrome.

Eur J Hum Genet 2015 Nov 25;23(11):1499-504. Epub 2015 Feb 25.

Istituto di Genetica Medica, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Roma, Italy.

MED13L haploinsufficiency has recently been described as responsible for syndromic intellectual disability. We planned a search for causative gene variants in seven subjects with intellectual disability and overlapping dysmorphic facial features such as bulbous nasal tip, short mouth and straight eyebrows. We found two de novo frameshift variants in MED13L, consisting in single-nucleotide deletion (c.3765delC) and duplication (c.607dupT). A de novo nonsense variant (c.4420A>T) in MED13L was detected in a further subject in the course of routine whole-exome sequencing. By analyzing the clinical data of our patients along with those recently described in the literature, we confirm that there is a common, recognizable phenotype associated with MED13L haploinsufficiency, which includes intellectual disability and a distinctive facial appearance. Congenital heart diseases are found in some subjects with various degree of severity. Our observation of cleft palate, ataxia, epilepsy and childhood leukemia observed in single cases broadens the known clinical spectrum. Haploinsufficiency for MED13L should be considered in the differential diagnosis of the 1p36 microdeletion syndrome, due to overlapping dysmorphic facial features in some patients. The introduction of massive parallel-sequencing techniques into clinical practice is expected to allow for detection of other causative point variants in MED13L. Analysis of genomic data in connection with deep clinical evaluation of patients could elucidate genetic heterogeneity of the MED13L haploinsufficiency phenotype.
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November 2015

Unusual 4p16.3 deletions suggest an additional chromosome region for the Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome-associated seizures disorder.

Epilepsia 2014 Jun 16;55(6):849-57. Epub 2014 Apr 16.

Institute of Medical Genetics, Catholic University, University Hospital A. Gemelli, Roma, Italy.

Objective: Seizure disorder is one of the most relevant clinical manifestations in Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS) and it acts as independent prognostic factor for the severity of intellectual disability (ID). LETM1, encoding a mitochondrial protein playing a role in K(+) /H(+) exchange and in Ca(2+) homeostasis, is currently considered the major candidate gene. However, whether haploinsufficiency limited to LETM1 is enough to cause epilepsy is still unclear. The main purpose of the present research is to define the 4p chromosome regions where genes for seizures reside.

Methods: Comparison of our three unusual 4p16.3 deletions with 13 literature reports. Array-comparative genomic hybridization (a-CGH). Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on messanger RNA (mRNA) of LETM1 and CPLX1. Direct sequencing of LETM1.

Results: Three unusual 4p16.3 deletions were detected by array-CGH in absence of a obvious clinical diagnosis of WHS. Two of these, encompassing LETM1, were found in subjects who never had seizures. The deletions were interstitial, spanning 1.1 Mb with preservation of the terminal 1.77 Mb region in one case and 0.84 Mb with preservation of the terminal 1.07 Mb region in the other. The other deletion was terminal, affecting a 0.564 Mb segment, with preservation of LETM1, and it was associated with seizures and learning difficulties. Upon evaluating our patients along with literature reports, we noted that six of eight subjects with terminal 4p deletions preserving LETM1 had seizures, whereas seven of seven with interstitial deletions including LETM1 and preserving the terminal 1 Mb region on 4p did not. An additional chromosome region for seizures is suggested, falling within the terminal 1.5 Mb on 4p, not including LETM1.

Significance: We consider that haploinsufficiency not limited to LETM1 but including other genes acts as a risk factor for the WHS-associated seizure disorder, according to a comorbidity model of pathogenesis. Additional candidate genes reside in the terminal 1.5 Mb region on 4p, most likely distal to LETM1. A PowerPoint slide summarizing this article is available for download in the Supporting Information section here.
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June 2014