Publications by authors named "Alma Kuechler"

81 Publications

Disruption of MeCP2-TCF20 complex underlies distinct neurodevelopmental disorders.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2022 Jan;119(4)

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030;

MeCP2 is associated with Rett syndrome (RTT), duplication syndrome, and a number of conditions with isolated features of these diseases, including autism, intellectual disability, and motor dysfunction. MeCP2 is known to broadly bind methylated DNA, but the precise molecular mechanism driving disease pathogenesis remains to be determined. Using proximity-dependent biotinylation (BioID), we identified a transcription factor 20 (TCF20) complex that interacts with MeCP2 at the chromatin interface. Importantly, RTT-causing mutations in disrupt this interaction. TCF20 and MeCP2 are highly coexpressed in neurons and coregulate the expression of key neuronal genes. Reducing partially rescued the behavioral deficits caused by overexpression, demonstrating a functional relationship between MeCP2 and TCF20 in duplication syndrome pathogenesis. We identified a patient exhibiting RTT-like neurological features with a missense mutation in the PHF14 subunit of the TCF20 complex that abolishes the MeCP2-PHF14-TCF20 interaction. Our data demonstrate the critical role of the MeCP2-TCF20 complex for brain function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2119078119DOI Listing
January 2022

Bi-allelic loss-of-function variants in cause severe fetal akinesia with arthrogryposis multiplex.

J Med Genet 2021 Nov 5. Epub 2021 Nov 5.

Practice for Human Genetics, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Fetal akinesia (FA) results in variable clinical presentations and has been associated with more than 166 different disease loci. However, the underlying molecular cause remains unclear in many individuals. We aimed to further define the set of genes involved.

Methods: We performed in-depth clinical characterisation and exome sequencing on a cohort of 23 FA index cases sharing arthrogryposis as a common feature.

Results: We identified likely pathogenic or pathogenic variants in 12 different established disease genes explaining the disease phenotype in 13 index cases and report 12 novel variants. In the unsolved families, a search for recessive-type variants affecting the same gene was performed; and in five affected fetuses of two unrelated families, a homozygous loss-of-function variant in the gene () was found.

Conclusion: Our study underlines the broad locus heterogeneity of FA with well-established and atypical genotype-phenotype associations. We describe as a new factor implicated in the pathogenesis of severe neurogenic FA sequence with arthrogryposis of multiple joints, pulmonary hypoplasia and facial dysmorphisms. This hypothesis is further corroborated by a recent report on overlapping phenotypes observed in Kif21a null piglets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2021-108064DOI Listing
November 2021

Homozygous WASHC4 variant in two sisters causes a syndromic phenotype defined by dysmorphisms, intellectual disability, profound developmental disorder, and skeletal muscle involvement.

J Pathol 2022 01 18;256(1):93-107. Epub 2021 Nov 18.

Department of Pediatric Neurology, Centre for Neuromuscular Disorders, Centre for Translational Neuro- and Behavioral Sciences, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Recessive variants in WASHC4 are linked to intellectual disability complicated by poor language skills, short stature, and dysmorphic features. The protein encoded by WASHC4 is part of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein and SCAR homolog family, co-localizes with actin in cells, and promotes Arp2/3-dependent actin polymerization in vitro. Functional studies in a zebrafish model suggested that WASHC4 knockdown may also affect skeletal muscles by perturbing protein clearance. However, skeletal muscle involvement has not been reported so far in patients, and precise biochemical studies allowing a deeper understanding of the molecular etiology of the disease are still lacking. Here, we report two siblings with a homozygous WASHC4 variant expanding the clinical spectrum of the disease and provide a phenotypical comparison with cases reported in the literature. Proteomic profiling of fibroblasts of the WASHC4-deficient patient revealed dysregulation of proteins relevant for the maintenance of the neuromuscular axis. Immunostaining on a muscle biopsy derived from the same patient confirmed dysregulation of proteins relevant for proper muscle function, thus highlighting an affliction of muscle cells upon loss of functional WASHC4. The results of histological and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopic studies support the concept of a functional role of the WASHC4 protein in humans by altering protein processing and clearance. The proteomic analysis confirmed key molecular players in vitro and highlighted, for the first time, the involvement of skeletal muscle in patients. © 2021 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.5812DOI Listing
January 2022

De novo missense variants in FBXO11 alter its protein expression and subcellular localization.

Hum Mol Genet 2021 Sep 9. Epub 2021 Sep 9.

Research Centre for Medical Genetics, Moscow, 115522, Russia.

Recently, we and others identified de novo FBXO11 variants as causative for a variable neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD). We now assembled clinical and mutational information on 23 additional individuals. The phenotypic spectrum remains highly variable, with developmental delay and/or intellectual disability as the core feature and behavioral anomalies, hypotonia and various facial dysmorphism as frequent aspects. The mutational spectrum includes intragenic deletions, likely gene disrupting and missense variants distributed across the protein. To further characterize the functional consequences of FBXO11 missense variants, we analyzed their effects on protein expression and localization by overexpression of 17 different mutant constructs in HEK293 and HeLa cells. We found that the majority of missense variants resulted in subcellular mislocalization and/or reduced FBXO11 protein expression levels. For instance, variants located in the nuclear localization signal and the N-terminal F-Box domain lead to altered subcellular localization with exclusion from the nucleus or the formation of cytoplasmic aggregates and to reduced protein levels in western blot. In contrast, variants localized in the C-terminal Zn-finger UBR domain lead to an accumulation in the cytoplasm without alteration of protein levels. Together with the mutational data our functional results suggest that most missense variants likely lead to a loss of the original FBXO11 function and thereby highlight haploinsufficiency as the most likely disease mechanism for FBXO11-associated NDDs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddab265DOI Listing
September 2021

MFSD2A-associated primary microcephaly - Expanding the clinical and mutational spectrum of this ultra-rare disease.

Eur J Med Genet 2021 Oct 13;64(10):104310. Epub 2021 Aug 13.

Institute for Human Genetics, University Hospital Essen, Germany. Electronic address:

MFSD2A, a member of the major facilitator superfamily (MFS), is a transmembrane transporter responsible for the uptake of specific essential fatty acids through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to the brain. The transporter is crucial for early embryonic brain development and a major factor in the formation and maintenance of the BBB. Mfsd2a-knockout mice show a leakage of the BBB in early embryonic stages and develop a phenotype characterized by microcephaly, cognitive impairment, and anxiety. So far, homozygous or compound heterozygous MFSD2A mutations in humans have only been reported in 13 different families with a total of 28 affected individuals. The phenotypical spectrum of patients with MFSD2A variants is rather broad but all patients present with microcephaly and severe intellectual disability, absent or limited speech, and walking difficulties. Severely affected patients develop seizures and show brain malformations and have, above all, a profound developmental delay hardly reaching any developmental motor milestones. Here, we report on two unrelated individuals with novel homozygous variants in the MFSD2A gene, presenting with severe primary microcephaly, brain malformations, profound developmental delay, and epilepsy, including hypsarrhythmia. Our findings extend the mutational spectrum of the bi-allelic MFSD2A variants causing autosomal recessive primary microcephaly type 15 and broaden the phenotypic spectrum associated with these pathogenic variants emphasizing the role of MFSD2A in early brain development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmg.2021.104310DOI Listing
October 2021

Clinical relevance of postzygotic mosaicism in Cornelia de Lange syndrome and purifying selection of NIPBL variants in blood.

Sci Rep 2021 07 29;11(1):15459. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Unit of Clinical Genetics and Functional Genomics, Department of Pharmacology-Physiology, School of Medicine, Universidad de Zaragoza, CIBERER-GCV02 and IIS-Aragon, 50009, Zaragoza, Spain.

Postzygotic mosaicism (PZM) in NIPBL is a strong source of causality for Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) that can have major clinical implications. Here, we further delineate the role of somatic mosaicism in CdLS by describing a series of 11 unreported patients with mosaic disease-causing variants in NIPBL and performing a retrospective cohort study from a Spanish CdLS diagnostic center. By reviewing the literature and combining our findings with previously published data, we demonstrate a negative selection against somatic deleterious NIPBL variants in blood. Furthermore, the analysis of all reported cases indicates an unusual high prevalence of mosaicism in CdLS, occurring in 13.1% of patients with a positive molecular diagnosis. It is worth noting that most of the affected individuals with mosaicism have a clinical phenotype at least as severe as those with constitutive pathogenic variants. However, the type of genetic change does not vary between germline and somatic events and, even in the presence of mosaicism, missense substitutions are located preferentially within the HEAT repeat domain of NIPBL. In conclusion, the high prevalence of mosaicism in CdLS as well as the disparity in tissue distribution provide a novel orientation for the clinical management and genetic counselling of families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-94958-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8322329PMC
July 2021

A homozygous nonsense mutation early in exon 5 of BRCA2 is associated with very severe Fanconi anemia.

Eur J Med Genet 2021 Aug 10;64(8):104260. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Department of Pediatrics III, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45122 Essen, Germany; Department of Otorhinolaryngology & Head/Neck Surgery, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Heinrich Heine University, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany. Electronic address:

Fanconi anemia (FA) due to biallelic mutations in the BRCA2 gene is very rare and associated with an extremely high risk of early-onset of aggressive childhood malignancies, predominantly brain tumors, leukemia, and nephroblastoma. Here, we present a consanguineous family with three affected children of the D1 subtype of FA and describe the clinical consequences of the earliest known biallelic nonsense/stop-gain germ-line mutation in BRCA2, exon 5 c.469A>T, that leads to a premature stop of translation, p.Lys157*. The three patients were born with severe intrauterine growth restrictions and different degrees of congenital malformations. Altogether, they developed eight distinct malignancies and died within their first three years of life. Treatment with a reduced chemotherapy regimen was only performed in patient 2 for his first tumor, a nephroblastoma, which the patient tolerated well for eight months, until he developed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and then acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Finally, the third patient experienced a hepatoblastoma, an unclassified brain tumor and MDS in parallel and died in her second year of life. Our report re-emphasizes the aggressiveness and fatality of the FA-D1 children with biallelic BRCA2 nonsense mutations, that are both located before exon 11, which contains binding domains for the RAD51 recombinase.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmg.2021.104260DOI Listing
August 2021

Schuurs-Hoeijmakers Syndrome ( Neurodevelopmental Disorder): Seven Novel Patients and a Review.

Genes (Basel) 2021 05 13;12(5). Epub 2021 May 13.

CIBERER, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras, ISCIII, Melchor Fernández Almagro 3, 28029 Madrid, Spain.

Schuurs-Hoeijmakers syndrome (SHMS) or Neurodevelopmental disorder is a rare disorder characterized by intellectual disability, abnormal craniofacial features and congenital malformations. SHMS is an autosomal dominant hereditary disease caused by pathogenic variants in the gene. PACS1 is a trans-Golgi-membrane traffic regulator that directs protein cargo and several viral envelope proteins. It is upregulated during human embryonic brain development and has low expression after birth. So far, only 54 patients with SHMS have been reported. In this work, we report on seven new identified SHMS individuals with the classical c.607C > T: p.Arg206Trp pathogenic variant and review clinical and molecular aspects of all the patients reported in the literature, providing a summary of clinical findings grouped as very frequent (≥75% of patients), frequent (50-74%), infrequent (26-49%) and rare (less than ≤25%).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes12050738DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8153584PMC
May 2021

ANKRD11 variants: KBG syndrome and beyond.

Clin Genet 2021 08 14;100(2):187-200. Epub 2021 May 14.

Centro Fondazione Mariani per il Bambino Fragile ASST-Lariana Sant'Anna Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, San Fermo della Battaglia (Como), Italy.

Mutations affecting the transcriptional regulator Ankyrin Repeat Domain 11 (ANKRD11) are mainly associated with the multisystem developmental disorder known as KBG syndrome, but have also been identified in individuals with Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) and other developmental disorders caused by variants affecting different chromatin regulators. The extensive functional overlap of these proteins results in shared phenotypical features, which complicate the assessment of the clinical diagnosis. Additionally, re-evaluation of individuals at a later age occasionally reveals that the initial phenotype has evolved toward clinical features more reminiscent of a developmental disorder different from the one that was initially diagnosed. For this reason, variants in ANKRD11 can be ascribed to a broader class of disorders that fall within the category of the so-called chromatinopathies. In this work, we report on the clinical characterization of 23 individuals with variants in ANKRD11. The subjects present primarily with developmental delay, intellectual disability and dysmorphic features, and all but two received an initial clinical diagnosis of either KBG syndrome or CdLS. The number and the severity of the clinical signs are overlapping but variable and result in a broad spectrum of phenotypes, which could be partially accounted for by the presence of additional molecular diagnoses and distinct pathogenic mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.13977DOI Listing
August 2021

Mutations in Are a Novel Cause of Galloway-Mowat Syndrome.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2021 03 16;32(3):580-596. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Institute of Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Background: Galloway-Mowat syndrome (GAMOS) is characterized by neurodevelopmental defects and a progressive nephropathy, which typically manifests as steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome. The prognosis of GAMOS is poor, and the majority of children progress to renal failure. The discovery of monogenic causes of GAMOS has uncovered molecular pathways involved in the pathogenesis of disease.

Methods: Homozygosity mapping, whole-exome sequencing, and linkage analysis were used to identify mutations in four families with a GAMOS-like phenotype, and high-throughput PCR technology was applied to 91 individuals with GAMOS and 816 individuals with isolated nephrotic syndrome. and studies determined the functional significance of the mutations identified.

Results: Three biallelic variants of the transcriptional regulator were detected in six families with proteinuric kidney disease. Four families with a variant in the protein's zinc-finger (ZNF) domain have additional GAMOS-like features, including brain anomalies, cardiac defects, and skeletal defects. All variants destabilize the PRDM15 protein, and the ZNF variant additionally interferes with transcriptional activation. Morpholino oligonucleotide-mediated knockdown of Prdm15 in embryos disrupted pronephric development. Human wild-type RNA rescued the disruption, but the three variants did not. Finally, CRISPR-mediated knockout of in human podocytes led to dysregulation of several renal developmental genes.

Conclusions: Variants in can cause either isolated nephrotic syndrome or a GAMOS-type syndrome on an allelic basis. PRDM15 regulates multiple developmental kidney genes, and is likely to play an essential role in renal development in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2020040490DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7920168PMC
March 2021

Bi-allelic loss of function variants in SLC30A5 as cause of perinatal lethal cardiomyopathy.

Eur J Hum Genet 2021 05 5;29(5):808-815. Epub 2021 Feb 5.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Perinatal mortality is a heavy burden for both affected parents and physicians. However, the underlying genetic causes have not been sufficiently investigated and most cases remain without diagnosis. This impedes appropriate counseling or therapy. We describe four affected children of two unrelated families with cardiomyopathy, hydrops fetalis, or cystic hygroma that all deceased perinatally. In the four patients, we found the following homozygous loss of function (LoF) variants in SLC30A5 NM_022902.4:c.832_836del p.(Ile278Phefs*33) and NM_022902.4:c.1981_1982del p.(His661Tyrfs*10). Knockout of SLC30A5 has previously been shown a cardiac phenotype in mouse models and no homozygous LoF variants in SLC30A5 are currently described in gnomAD. Taken together, we present SLC30A5 as a new gene for a severe and perinatally lethal form of cardiomyopathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41431-020-00803-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8110774PMC
May 2021

Mutation-specific pathophysiological mechanisms define different neurodevelopmental disorders associated with SATB1 dysfunction.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 02 28;108(2):346-356. Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Department of Rehabilitation and Development, Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Portland, OR 97227, USA.

Whereas large-scale statistical analyses can robustly identify disease-gene relationships, they do not accurately capture genotype-phenotype correlations or disease mechanisms. We use multiple lines of independent evidence to show that different variant types in a single gene, SATB1, cause clinically overlapping but distinct neurodevelopmental disorders. Clinical evaluation of 42 individuals carrying SATB1 variants identified overt genotype-phenotype relationships, associated with different pathophysiological mechanisms, established by functional assays. Missense variants in the CUT1 and CUT2 DNA-binding domains result in stronger chromatin binding, increased transcriptional repression, and a severe phenotype. In contrast, variants predicted to result in haploinsufficiency are associated with a milder clinical presentation. A similarly mild phenotype is observed for individuals with premature protein truncating variants that escape nonsense-mediated decay, which are transcriptionally active but mislocalized in the cell. Our results suggest that in-depth mutation-specific genotype-phenotype studies are essential to capture full disease complexity and to explain phenotypic variability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.01.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7895900PMC
February 2021

One test for all: whole exome sequencing significantly improves the diagnostic yield in growth retarded patients referred for molecular testing for Silver-Russell syndrome.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2021 01 22;16(1):42. Epub 2021 Jan 22.

Institute of Human Genetics, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074, Aachen, Germany.

Background: Silver-Russell syndrome (SRS) is an imprinting disorder which is characterised by severe primordial growth retardation, relative macrocephaly and a typical facial gestalt. The clinical heterogeneity of SRS is reflected by a broad spectrum of molecular changes with hypomethylation in 11p15 and maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 7 (upd(7)mat) as the most frequent findings. Monogenetic causes are rare, but a clinical overlap with numerous other disorders has been reported. However, a comprehensive overview on the contribution of mutations in differential diagnostic genes to phenotypes reminiscent to SRS is missing due to the lack of appropriate tests. With the implementation of next generation sequencing (NGS) tools this limitation can now be circumvented.

Main Body: We analysed 75 patients referred for molecular testing for SRS by a NGS-based multigene panel, whole exome sequencing (WES), and trio-based WES. In 21/75 patients a disease-causing variant could be identified among them variants in known SRS genes (IGF2, PLAG1, HMGA2). Several patients carried variants in genes which have not yet been considered as differential diagnoses of SRS.

Conclusions: WES approaches significantly increase the diagnostic yield in patients referred for SRS testing. Several of the identified monogenetic disorders have a major impact on clinical management and genetic counseling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-021-01683-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7821667PMC
January 2021

Intellectual disability associated with craniofacial dysmorphism, cleft palate, and congenital heart defect due to a de novo MEIS2 mutation: A clinical longitudinal study.

Am J Med Genet A 2021 04 11;185(4):1216-1221. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg - Essen, Essen, Germany.

Intellectual disability (ID) has an estimated prevalence of 1.5%-2%. Whole exome sequencing (WES) studies have identified a multitude of novel causative gene defects and have shown that sporadic ID cases result from de novo mutations in genes associated with ID. Here, we report on a 10-year-old girl, who has been regularly presented in our neuropediatric and genetic outpatient clinic. A median cleft palate and a heart defect were surgically corrected in infancy. Apart from ID, she has behavioral anomalies, muscular hypotonia, scoliosis, and hypermobile joints. The facial phenotype is characterized by arched eyebrows, mildly upslanting long palpebral fissures, prominent nasal tip, and large, protruding ears. Trio WES revealed a de novo missense variant in MEIS2 (c.998G>A; p.Arg333Lys). Haploinsufficiency of MEIS2 had been discussed as the most likely mechanism of the microdeletion 5q14-associated complex phenotype with ID, cleft palate, and heart defect. Recently, four studies including in total 17 individuals with intragenic MEIS2 variants were reported. Here we present the evolution of the clinical phenotype and compare with the data of known individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.62070DOI Listing
April 2021

The adult phenotype of Schaaf-Yang syndrome.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2020 10 19;15(1):294. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: MAGEL2-associated Schaaf-Yang syndrome (SHFYNG, OMIM #615547, ORPHA: 398069), which was identified in 2013, is a rare disorder caused by truncating variants of the paternal copy of MAGEL2, which is localized in the imprinted region on 15q11.2q13. The phenotype of SHFYNG in childhood partially overlaps with that of the well-established Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS, OMIM #176270). While larger numbers of younger individuals with SHFYNG have been recently published, the phenotype in adulthood is not well established. We recruited 7 adult individuals (aged 18 to 36) with molecularly confirmed SHFYNG and collected data regarding the clinical profile including eating habits, sleep, behavior, personal autonomy, psychiatric abnormalities and other medical conditions, as well as information about the respective phenotypes in childhood.

Results: Within our small cohort, we identified a range of common features, such as disturbed sleep, hypoactivity, social withdrawal and anxiety, but also noted considerable differences at the level of personal autonomy and skills. Behavioral problems were frequent, and a majority of individuals displayed weight gain and food-seeking behavior, along with mild intellectual disability or borderline intellectual function. Classical symptoms of SHFYNG in childhood were reported for most individuals.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate a high variability of the functional abilities and social participation of adults with SHFYNG. A high prevalence of obesity within our cohort was notable, and uncontrollable food intake was a major concern for some caregivers. The phenotypes of PWS and SHFYNG in adulthood might be more difficult to discern than the phenotypes in childhood. Molecular genetic testing for SHFYNG should therefore be considered in adults with the suspected diagnosis of PWS, if testing for PWS has been negative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-020-01557-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7574436PMC
October 2020

Further evidence for POMK as candidate gene for WWS with meningoencephalocele.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2020 09 9;15(1):242. Epub 2020 Sep 9.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: Walker-Warburg syndrome (WWS) is a rare form of alpha-dystroglycanopathy characterized by muscular dystrophy and severe malformations of the CNS and eyes. Bi-allelic pathogenic variants in POMK are the cause of a broad spectrum of alpha-dystroglycanopathies. POMK encodes protein-O-mannose kinase, which is required for proper glycosylation and function of the dystroglycan complex and is crucial for extracellular matrix composition.

Results: Here, we report on male monozygotic twins with severe CNS malformations (hydrocephalus, cortical malformation, hypoplastic cerebellum, and most prominently occipital meningocele), eye malformations and highly elevated creatine kinase, indicating the clinical diagnosis of a congenital muscular dystrophy (alpha-dystroglycanopathy). Both twins were found to harbor a homozygous nonsense mutation c.640C>T, p.214* in POMK, confirming the clinical diagnosis and supporting the concept that POMK mutations can be causative of WWS.

Conclusion: Our combined data suggest a more important role for POMK in the pathogenesis of meningoencephalocele. Only eight different pathogenic POMK variants have been published so far, detected in eight families; only five showed the severe WWS phenotype, suggesting that POMK-associated WWS is an extremely rare disease. We expand the phenotypic and mutational spectrum of POMK-associated WWS and provide evidence of the broad phenotypic variability of POMK-associated disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-020-01454-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7488248PMC
September 2020

Variants of SOS2 are a rare cause of Noonan syndrome with particular predisposition for lymphatic complications.

Eur J Hum Genet 2021 01 12;29(1):51-60. Epub 2020 Aug 12.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany.

RASopathies are caused by variants in genes encoding components or modulators of the RAS/MAPK signaling pathway. Noonan syndrome is the most common entity among this group of disorders and is characterized by heart defects, short stature, variable developmental delay, and typical facial features. Heterozygous variants in SOS2, encoding a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for RAS, have recently been identified in patients with Noonan syndrome. The number of published cases with SOS2-related Noonan syndrome is still limited and little is known about genotype-phenotype correlations. We collected previously unpublished clinical and genotype data from 17 individuals carrying a disease-causing SOS2 variant. Most individuals had one of the previously reported dominant pathogenic variants; only four had novel changes at the established hotspots for variants that affect protein function. The overall phenotype of the 17 patients fits well into the spectrum of Noonan syndrome and is most similar to the phenotype observed in patients with SOS1-related Noonan syndrome, with ectodermal anomalies as common features and short stature and learning disabilities as relatively infrequent findings compared to the average Noonan syndrome phenotype. The spectrum of heart defects in SOS2-related Noonan syndrome was consistent with the known spectrum of cardiac anomalies in RASopathies, but no specific heart defect was particularly predominating. Notably, lymphatic anomalies were extraordinarily frequent, affecting more than half of the patients. We therefore conclude that SOS2-related Noonan syndrome is associated with a particularly high risk of lymphatic complications that may have a significant impact on morbidity and quality of life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41431-020-00708-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7852574PMC
January 2021

13q deletion syndrome resulting from balanced chromosomal rearrangement in father: the significance of parental karyotyping.

Mol Cytogenet 2020 23;13:31. Epub 2020 Jul 23.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: Retinoblastoma is a malignancy of the eye in children characterized by biallelic inactivation of gene (), located at chromosome 13q14.2. Children with interstitial chromosome 13q deletions that include the gene show a predisposition to develop retinoblastoma and variable other features. Large 13q deletions with severe clinical phenotype are nearly always the result of a de novo mutation, i.e. the pathogenic alteration is not detected in parents. This results in a low risk for siblings to develop 13q deletion syndrome.

Result: Here, we describe a patient with profound muscle hypotonia, severe developmental delay and bilateral retinoblastoma carrying a large deletion in 13q13.3q14 with the size of 16 Mb, involving the gene. Neither parent showed retinoblastoma, muscle hypotonia or developmental delay. Chromosome analysis and Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) showed a balanced complex chromosomal rearrangement (CCR) between chromosome 12 and 13 [ins(12;13)(q21.2;q12.3q14.3)] and an additional balanced translocation of chromosome 7 and 15 [t(7;15)(q31.2;q25.3)] in the healthy father. Malsegregation of the paternal insertional translocation involving chromosome 12 and 13 resulted in a 13q deletion syndrome of the child [46,XY,ins(12;13)(q21.2;q12.3q14.3)].

Conclusion: Balanced translocations in parents are a rare cause of de novo deletions in offspring. This case report emphasizes the need for parental chromosomal analysis and FISH in parents of children diagnosed with 13q deletion syndrome or large gene deletions to precisely determine the recurrence risk in siblings. Guidelines for genetic testing should be revised accordingly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13039-020-00500-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7379829PMC
July 2020

Defining the phenotypical spectrum associated with variants in .

J Med Genet 2021 01 22;58(1):33-40. Epub 2020 Jun 22.

Neurogenetics Research Group, Reproduction Genetics and Regenerative Medicine Research Cluster, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.

Background: Variants in genes belonging to the tubulin superfamily account for a heterogeneous spectrum of brain malformations referred to as tubulinopathies. Variants in have been reported in 10 patients with a broad spectrum of brain imaging features, ranging from a normal cortex to polymicrogyria, while one patient has been reported with progressive atrophy of the cerebellar vermis.

Methods: In order to further refine the phenotypical spectrum associated with , clinical and imaging features of 12 patients with pathogenic variants, recruited via the international network of the authors, were reviewed.

Results: We report 12 patients with eight novel and one recurrent variants spread throughout the gene but encoding for amino acids clustering at the protein surface. Eleven patients (91.7%) developed seizures in early life. All patients suffered from intellectual disability, and 11 patients had severe motor developmental delay, with 4 patients (36.4 %) being non-ambulatory. The cerebral cortex was normal in five individuals and showed dysgyria of variable severity in seven patients. Associated brain malformations were less frequent in patients compared with other tubulinopathies. None of the patients had progressive cerebellar atrophy.

Conclusion: The imaging phenotype associated with pathogenic variants in is highly variable, ranging from a normal cortex to extensive dysgyria with associated brain malformations. For recurrent variants, no clear genotype-phenotype correlations could be established, suggesting the role of additional modifiers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2019-106740DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7803914PMC
January 2021

De Novo SOX6 Variants Cause a Neurodevelopmental Syndrome Associated with ADHD, Craniosynostosis, and Osteochondromas.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 06 21;106(6):830-845. Epub 2020 May 21.

Roberts Individualized Medical Genetics Center, Division of Human Genetics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

SOX6 belongs to a family of 20 SRY-related HMG-box-containing (SOX) genes that encode transcription factors controlling cell fate and differentiation in many developmental and adult processes. For SOX6, these processes include, but are not limited to, neurogenesis and skeletogenesis. Variants in half of the SOX genes have been shown to cause severe developmental and adult syndromes, referred to as SOXopathies. We here provide evidence that SOX6 variants also cause a SOXopathy. Using clinical and genetic data, we identify 19 individuals harboring various types of SOX6 alterations and exhibiting developmental delay and/or intellectual disability; the individuals are from 17 unrelated families. Additional, inconstant features include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, mild facial dysmorphism, craniosynostosis, and multiple osteochondromas. All variants are heterozygous. Fourteen are de novo, one is inherited from a mosaic father, and four offspring from two families have a paternally inherited variant. Intragenic microdeletions, balanced structural rearrangements, frameshifts, and nonsense variants are predicted to inactivate the SOX6 variant allele. Four missense variants occur in residues and protein regions highly conserved evolutionarily. These variants are not detected in the gnomAD control cohort, and the amino acid substitutions are predicted to be damaging. Two of these variants are located in the HMG domain and abolish SOX6 transcriptional activity in vitro. No clear genotype-phenotype correlations are found. Taken together, these findings concur that SOX6 haploinsufficiency leads to a neurodevelopmental SOXopathy that often includes ADHD and abnormal skeletal and other features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.04.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7273536PMC
June 2020

Int22h1/Int22h2-mediated Xq28 duplication syndrome: de novo duplications, prenatal diagnoses, and additional phenotypic features.

Hum Mutat 2020 07 12;41(7):1238-1249. Epub 2020 Mar 12.

Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE.

Int22h1/Int22h2-mediated Xq28 duplication syndrome is a relatively new X-linked intellectual disability syndrome, arising from duplications of the subregion flanked by intron 22 homologous regions 1 and 2 on the q arm of chromosome X. Its primary manifestations include variable cognitive deficits, distinct facial dysmorphia, and neurobehavioral abnormalities that mainly include hyperactivity, irritability, and autistic behavior. Affected males are hemizygous for the duplication, which explains their often more severe manifestations compared with heterozygous females. In this report, we describe the cases of nine individuals recently identified having the syndrome, highlighting unique and previously unreported findings of this syndrome. Specifically, we report for the first time in this syndrome, two cases with de novo duplications, three receiving prenatal diagnosis with the syndrome, and three others having atypical versions of the duplication. Among the latter, one proband has a shortened version spanning only the centromeric half of the typical duplication, while the other two cases have a nearly identical length duplication as the classical duplication, with the exception that their duplication's breakpoints are telomerically shifted by about 0.2 Mb. Finally, we shed light on two new manifestations in this syndrome, vertebral anomalies and multiple malignancies, which possibly expand the phenotypic spectrum of the syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.24009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7292747PMC
July 2020

Widening of the genetic and clinical spectrum of Lamb-Shaffer syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder due to SOX5 haploinsufficiency.

Genet Med 2020 03 3;22(3):524-537. Epub 2019 Oct 3.

CHU de Rennes, service de génétique clinique, Rennes, France.

Purpose: Lamb-Shaffer syndrome (LAMSHF) is a neurodevelopmental disorder described in just over two dozen patients with heterozygous genetic alterations involving SOX5, a gene encoding a transcription factor regulating cell fate and differentiation in neurogenesis and other discrete developmental processes. The genetic alterations described so far are mainly microdeletions. The present study was aimed at increasing our understanding of LAMSHF, its clinical and genetic spectrum, and the pathophysiological mechanisms involved.

Methods: Clinical and genetic data were collected through GeneMatcher and clinical or genetic networks for 41 novel patients harboring various types ofSOX5 alterations. Functional consequences of selected substitutions were investigated.

Results: Microdeletions and truncating variants occurred throughout SOX5. In contrast, most missense variants clustered in the pivotal SOX-specific high-mobility-group domain. The latter variants prevented SOX5 from binding DNA and promoting transactivation in vitro, whereas missense variants located outside the high-mobility-group domain did not. Clinical manifestations and severity varied among patients. No clear genotype-phenotype correlations were found, except that missense variants outside the high-mobility-group domain were generally better tolerated.

Conclusions: This study extends the clinical and genetic spectrum associated with LAMSHF and consolidates evidence that SOX5 haploinsufficiency leads to variable degrees of intellectual disability, language delay, and other clinical features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-019-0657-0DOI Listing
March 2020

Activating Mutations of RRAS2 Are a Rare Cause of Noonan Syndrome.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 06 23;104(6):1223-1232. Epub 2019 May 23.

Département de Génétique, Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) Hôpital Robert Debré, 75019 Paris, France; INSERM UMR 1141 - Université de Paris, 75019 Paris, France.

Aberrant signaling through pathways controlling cell response to extracellular stimuli constitutes a central theme in disorders affecting development. Signaling through RAS and the MAPK cascade controls a variety of cell decisions in response to cytokines, hormones, and growth factors, and its upregulation causes Noonan syndrome (NS), a developmental disorder whose major features include a distinctive facies, a wide spectrum of cardiac defects, short stature, variable cognitive impairment, and predisposition to malignancies. NS is genetically heterogeneous, and mutations in more than ten genes have been reported to underlie this disorder. Despite the large number of genes implicated, about 10%-20% of affected individuals with a clinical diagnosis of NS do not have mutations in known RASopathy-associated genes, indicating that additional unidentified genes contribute to the disease, when mutated. By using a mixed strategy of functional candidacy and exome sequencing, we identify RRAS2 as a gene implicated in NS in six unrelated subjects/families. We show that the NS-causing RRAS2 variants affect highly conserved residues localized around the nucleotide binding pocket of the GTPase and are predicted to variably affect diverse aspects of RRAS2 biochemical behavior, including nucleotide binding, GTP hydrolysis, and interaction with effectors. Additionally, all pathogenic variants increase activation of the MAPK cascade and variably impact cell morphology and cytoskeletal rearrangement. Finally, we provide a characterization of the clinical phenotype associated with RRAS2 mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.04.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562003PMC
June 2019

Delineation of MidXq28-duplication syndrome distal to MECP2 and proximal to RAB39B genes.

Clin Genet 2019 09 17;96(3):246-253. Epub 2019 Jun 17.

Medical Genetics Unit, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza IRCCS, San Giovanni Rotondo (FG), Italy.

Two distinct genomic disorders have been linked to Xq28-gains, namely Xq28-duplications including MECP2 and Int22h1/Int22h2-mediated duplications involving RAB39B. Here, we describe six unrelated patients, five males and one female, with Xq28-gains distal to MECP2 and proximal to the Int22h1/Int22h2 low copy repeats. Comparison with patients carrying overlapping duplications in the literature defined the MidXq28-duplication syndrome featuring intellectual disability, language impairment, structural brain malformations, microcephaly, seizures and minor craniofacial features. The duplications overlapped for 108 kb including FLNA, RPL10 and GDI1 genes, highly expressed in brain and candidates for the neurologic phenotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.13565DOI Listing
September 2019

De Novo Mutations Affecting the Catalytic Cα Subunit of PP2A, PPP2CA, Cause Syndromic Intellectual Disability Resembling Other PP2A-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 01 27;104(1):139-156. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

Institute of Human Genetics, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany; Institut für Humangenetik, Universitätsklinikum Essen, Universität Duisburg-Essen, 45147 Essen, Germany.

Type 2A protein phosphatases (PP2As) are highly expressed in the brain and regulate neuronal signaling by catalyzing phospho-Ser/Thr dephosphorylations in diverse substrates. PP2A holoenzymes comprise catalytic C-, scaffolding A-, and regulatory B-type subunits, which determine substrate specificity and physiological function. Interestingly, de novo mutations in genes encoding A- and B-type subunits have recently been implicated in intellectual disability (ID) and developmental delay (DD). We now report 16 individuals with mild to profound ID and DD and a de novo mutation in PPP2CA, encoding the catalytic Cα subunit. Other frequently observed features were severe language delay (71%), hypotonia (69%), epilepsy (63%), and brain abnormalities such as ventriculomegaly and a small corpus callosum (67%). Behavioral problems, including autism spectrum disorders, were reported in 47% of individuals, and three individuals had a congenital heart defect. PPP2CA de novo mutations included a partial gene deletion, a frameshift, three nonsense mutations, a single amino acid duplication, a recurrent mutation, and eight non-recurrent missense mutations. Functional studies showed complete PP2A dysfunction in four individuals with seemingly milder ID, hinting at haploinsufficiency. Ten other individuals showed mutation-specific biochemical distortions, including poor expression, altered binding to the A subunit and specific B-type subunits, and impaired phosphatase activity and C-terminal methylation. Four were suspected to have a dominant-negative mechanism, which correlated with severe ID. Two missense variants affecting the same residue largely behaved as wild-type in our functional assays. Overall, we found that pathogenic PPP2CA variants impair PP2A-B56(δ) functionality, suggesting that PP2A-related neurodevelopmental disorders constitute functionally converging ID syndromes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.12.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6323609PMC
January 2019

Genetic Diagnostic Elucidation of a Patient With Multiorgan Granulomas, Facial Peculiarities, and Psychomotor Retardation.

Front Genet 2018 27;9:355. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Klinik für Kinderheilkunde III, Universitätsklinikum Essen, Essen, Germany.

We report the case of a 19-years-old patient who presented with a perplexing variety of symptoms which included remarkable facial features, intellectual disability, granulomatous upper lip swelling (previously diagnosed as Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome), Crohn's-like disease, non-productive cough, and a granulomatous mass localized in the left lung. Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) was diagnosed using dihydrorhodamine 123 assay that showed low levels of phagocytic NADPH-oxidase. DNA sequencing revealed a heterozygous mutation in the gene on chromosome 7. As remarkable facial features and psychomotor retardation are not associated with CGD, a more detailed genetic work-up using fluorescence hybridization was performed. A microdeletion in 7q11.23 on one allele indicated Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS). The gene and its two pseudogenes are part of a highly repetitive region within 7q11.23 and are prone to recombination events and deletions. Such deletions can involve both the WBS critical region and the wildtype gene, as was the case for our patient. The second allele of the gene was affected by the frequent c.75.76delGT mutation that stems from a recombination of the wildtype gene with one of its pseudogenes. In conclusion, patients with -deficient CGD may also harbor microdeletions that result in WBS or other hereditary disorders; therefore, it is important to perform a thorough genetic analysis in order to initiate appropriate therapy for these patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2018.00355DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6170790PMC
September 2018

Genetic variants in components of the NALCN-UNC80-UNC79 ion channel complex cause a broad clinical phenotype (NALCN channelopathies).

Hum Genet 2018 Sep 23;137(9):753-768. Epub 2018 Aug 23.

Aix Marseille Univ, MMG, INSERM, Marseille, France.

NALCN is a conserved cation channel, which conducts a permanent sodium leak current and regulates resting membrane potential and neuronal excitability. It is part of a large ion channel complex, the "NALCN channelosome", consisting of multiple proteins including UNC80 and UNC79. The predominant neuronal expression pattern and its function suggest an important role in neuronal function and disease. So far, biallelic NALCN and UNC80 variants have been described in a small number of individuals leading to infantile hypotonia, psychomotor retardation, and characteristic facies 1 (IHPRF1, OMIM 615419) and 2 (IHPRF2, OMIM 616801), respectively. Heterozygous de novo NALCN missense variants in the S5/S6 pore-forming segments lead to congenital contractures of the limbs and face, hypotonia, and developmental delay (CLIFAHDD, OMIM 616266) with some clinical overlap. In this study, we present detailed clinical information of 16 novel individuals with biallelic NALCN variants, 1 individual with a heterozygous de novo NALCN missense variant and an interesting clinical phenotype without contractures, and 12 individuals with biallelic UNC80 variants. We report for the first time a missense NALCN variant located in the predicted S6 pore-forming unit inherited in an autosomal-recessive manner leading to mild IHPRF1. We show evidence of clinical variability, especially among IHPRF1-affected individuals, and discuss differences between the IHPRF1- and IHPRF2 phenotypes. In summary, we provide a comprehensive overview of IHPRF1 and IHPRF2 phenotypes based on the largest cohort of individuals reported so far and provide additional insights into the clinical phenotypes of these neurodevelopmental diseases to help improve counseling of affected families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-018-1929-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6671679PMC
September 2018

BCL11B mutations in patients affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder with reduced type 2 innate lymphoid cells.

Brain 2018 08;141(8):2299-2311

Département de Génétique, Hôpital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France.

The transcription factor BCL11B is essential for development of the nervous and the immune system, and Bcl11b deficiency results in structural brain defects, reduced learning capacity, and impaired immune cell development in mice. However, the precise role of BCL11B in humans is largely unexplored, except for a single patient with a BCL11B missense mutation, affected by multisystem anomalies and profound immune deficiency. Using massively parallel sequencing we identified 13 patients bearing heterozygous germline alterations in BCL11B. Notably, all of them are affected by global developmental delay with speech impairment and intellectual disability; however, none displayed overt clinical signs of immune deficiency. Six frameshift mutations, two nonsense mutations, one missense mutation, and two chromosomal rearrangements resulting in diminished BCL11B expression, arose de novo. A further frameshift mutation was transmitted from a similarly affected mother. Interestingly, the most severely affected patient harbours a missense mutation within a zinc-finger domain of BCL11B, probably affecting the DNA-binding structural interface, similar to the recently published patient. Furthermore, the most C-terminally located premature termination codon mutation fails to rescue the progenitor cell proliferation defect in hippocampal slice cultures from Bcl11b-deficient mice. Concerning the role of BCL11B in the immune system, extensive immune phenotyping of our patients revealed alterations in the T cell compartment and lack of peripheral type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), consistent with the findings described in Bcl11b-deficient mice. Unsupervised analysis of 102 T lymphocyte subpopulations showed that the patients clearly cluster apart from healthy children, further supporting the common aetiology of the disorder. Taken together, we show here that mutations leading either to BCL11B haploinsufficiency or to a truncated BCL11B protein clinically cause a non-syndromic neurodevelopmental delay. In addition, we suggest that missense mutations affecting specific sites within zinc-finger domains might result in distinct and more severe clinical outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awy173DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061686PMC
August 2018
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