Publications by authors named "Anita Rauch"

190 Publications

Rare variants in KDR, encoding VEGF Receptor 2, are associated with tetralogy of Fallot.

Genet Med 2021 Jun 10. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK.

Purpose: Rare genetic variants in KDR, encoding the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2), have been reported in patients with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). However, their role in disease causality and pathogenesis remains unclear.

Methods: We conducted exome sequencing in a familial case of TOF and large-scale genetic studies, including burden testing, in >1,500 patients with TOF. We studied gene-targeted mice and conducted cell-based assays to explore the role of KDR genetic variation in the etiology of TOF.

Results: Exome sequencing in a family with two siblings affected by TOF revealed biallelic missense variants in KDR. Studies in knock-in mice and in HEK 293T cells identified embryonic lethality for one variant when occurring in the homozygous state, and a significantly reduced VEGFR2 phosphorylation for both variants. Rare variant burden analysis conducted in a set of 1,569 patients of European descent with TOF identified a 46-fold enrichment of protein-truncating variants (PTVs) in TOF cases compared to controls (P = 7 × 10).

Conclusion: Rare KDR variants, in particular PTVs, strongly associate with TOF, likely in the setting of different inheritance patterns. Supported by genetic and in vivo and in vitro functional analysis, we propose loss-of-function of VEGFR2 as one of the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of TOF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01212-yDOI Listing
June 2021

Confirmation of Ogden syndrome as an X-linked recessive fatal disorder due to a recurrent NAA10 variant and review of the literature.

Am J Med Genet A 2021 Jun 1. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Zurich, Schlieren, Switzerland.

Ogden syndrome is a rare lethal X-linked recessive disorder caused by a recurrent missense variant (Ser37Pro) in the NAA10 gene, encoding the catalytic subunit of the N-terminal acetyltransferase A complex (NatA). So far eight boys of two different families have been described in the literature, all presenting the distinctive and recognizable phenotype, which includes mostly postnatal growth retardation, global severe developmental delay, characteristic craniofacial features, and structural cardiac anomalies and/or arrhythmias. Here, we report the ninth case of Ogden syndrome with an independent recurrence of the Ser37Pro variant. We were able to follow the clinical course of the affected boy and delineate the evolving phenotype from his birth until his unfortunate death at 7 months. We could confirm the associated phenotype as well as the natural history of this severe disease. By describing new presenting features, we are further expanding the clinical spectrum associated with Ogden syndrome and review other phenotypes associated with NAA10 variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.62351DOI Listing
June 2021

CSNK2B: A broad spectrum of neurodevelopmental disability and epilepsy severity.

Epilepsia 2021 May 26. Epub 2021 May 26.

Department of Neuropediatrics, APHP Sorbonne University, Trousseau Hospital, Paris, France.

CSNK2B has recently been implicated as a disease gene for neurodevelopmental disability (NDD) and epilepsy. Information about developmental outcomes has been limited by the young age and short follow-up for many of the previously reported cases, and further delineation of the spectrum of associated phenotypes is needed. We present 25 new patients with variants in CSNK2B and refine the associated NDD and epilepsy phenotypes. CSNK2B variants were identified by research or clinical exome sequencing, and investigators from different centers were connected via GeneMatcher. Most individuals had developmental delay and generalized epilepsy with onset in the first 2 years. However, we found a broad spectrum of phenotypic severity, ranging from early normal development with pharmacoresponsive seizures to profound intellectual disability with intractable epilepsy and recurrent refractory status epilepticus. These findings suggest that CSNK2B should be considered in the diagnostic evaluation of patients with a broad range of NDD with treatable or intractable seizures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.16931DOI Listing
May 2021

Missense and truncating variants in CHD5 in a dominant neurodevelopmental disorder with intellectual disability, behavioral disturbances, and epilepsy.

Hum Genet 2021 Jul 4;140(7):1109-1120. Epub 2021 May 4.

CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, Montreal, QC, H3T 1C5, Canada.

Located in the critical 1p36 microdeletion region, the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 5 (CHD5) gene encodes a subunit of the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylation (NuRD) complex required for neuronal development. Pathogenic variants in six of nine chromodomain (CHD) genes cause autosomal dominant neurodevelopmental disorders, while CHD5-related disorders are still unknown. Thanks to GeneMatcher and international collaborations, we assembled a cohort of 16 unrelated individuals harboring heterozygous CHD5 variants, all identified by exome sequencing. Twelve patients had de novo CHD5 variants, including ten missense and two splice site variants. Three familial cases had nonsense or missense variants segregating with speech delay, learning disabilities, and/or craniosynostosis. One patient carried a frameshift variant of unknown inheritance due to unavailability of the father. The most common clinical features included language deficits (81%), behavioral symptoms (69%), intellectual disability (64%), epilepsy (62%), and motor delay (56%). Epilepsy types were variable, with West syndrome observed in three patients, generalized tonic-clonic seizures in two, and other subtypes observed in one individual each. Our findings suggest that, in line with other CHD-related disorders, heterozygous CHD5 variants are associated with a variable neurodevelopmental syndrome that includes intellectual disability with speech delay, epilepsy, and behavioral problems as main features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-021-02283-2DOI Listing
July 2021

Loss-of-function and missense variants in NSD2 cause decreased methylation activity and are associated with a distinct developmental phenotype.

Genet Med 2021 May 3. Epub 2021 May 3.

Department of Human Genetics, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Despite a few recent reports of patients harboring truncating variants in NSD2, a gene considered critical for the Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS) phenotype, the clinical spectrum associated with NSD2 pathogenic variants remains poorly understood.

Methods: We collected a comprehensive series of 18 unpublished patients carrying heterozygous missense, elongating, or truncating NSD2 variants; compared their clinical data to the typical WHS phenotype after pooling them with ten previously described patients; and assessed the underlying molecular mechanism by structural modeling and measuring methylation activity in vitro.

Results: The core NSD2-associated phenotype includes mostly mild developmental delay, prenatal-onset growth retardation, low body mass index, and characteristic facial features distinct from WHS. Patients carrying missense variants were significantly taller and had more frequent behavioral/psychological issues compared with those harboring truncating variants. Structural in silico modeling suggested interference with NSD2's folding and function for all missense variants in known structures. In vitro testing showed reduced methylation activity and failure to reconstitute H3K36me2 in NSD2 knockout cells for most missense variants.

Conclusion: NSD2 loss-of-function variants lead to a distinct, rather mild phenotype partially overlapping with WHS. To avoid confusion for patients, NSD2 deficiency may be named Rauch-Steindl syndrome after the delineators of this phenotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01158-1DOI Listing
May 2021

Disruption of RFX family transcription factors causes autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, and dysregulated behavior.

Genet Med 2021 Jun 3;23(6):1028-1040. Epub 2021 Mar 3.

Division of Medical Genetics, Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE, USA.

Purpose: We describe a novel neurobehavioral phenotype of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability, and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) associated with de novo or inherited deleterious variants in members of the RFX family of genes. RFX genes are evolutionarily conserved transcription factors that act as master regulators of central nervous system development and ciliogenesis.

Methods: We assembled a cohort of 38 individuals (from 33 unrelated families) with de novo variants in RFX3, RFX4, and RFX7. We describe their common clinical phenotypes and present bioinformatic analyses of expression patterns and downstream targets of these genes as they relate to other neurodevelopmental risk genes.

Results: These individuals share neurobehavioral features including ASD, intellectual disability, and/or ADHD; other frequent features include hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli and sleep problems. RFX3, RFX4, and RFX7 are strongly expressed in developing and adult human brain, and X-box binding motifs as well as RFX ChIP-seq peaks are enriched in the cis-regulatory regions of known ASD risk genes.

Conclusion: These results establish a likely role of deleterious variation in RFX3, RFX4, and RFX7 in cases of monogenic intellectual disability, ADHD and ASD, and position these genes as potentially critical transcriptional regulators of neurobiological pathways associated with neurodevelopmental disease pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01114-zDOI Listing
June 2021

DLG4-related synaptopathy: a new rare brain disorder.

Genet Med 2021 05 17;23(5):888-899. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Institute of Human Genetics, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Erlangen, Germany.

Purpose: Postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95), encoded by DLG4, regulates excitatory synaptic function in the brain. Here we present the clinical and genetic features of 53 patients (42 previously unpublished) with DLG4 variants.

Methods: The clinical and genetic information were collected through GeneMatcher collaboration. All the individuals were investigated by local clinicians and the gene variants were identified by clinical exome/genome sequencing.

Results: The clinical picture was predominated by early onset global developmental delay, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, all of which point to a brain disorder. Marfanoid habitus, which was previously suggested to be a characteristic feature of DLG4-related phenotypes, was found in only nine individuals and despite some overlapping features, a distinct facial dysmorphism could not be established. Of the 45 different DLG4 variants, 39 were predicted to lead to loss of protein function and the majority occurred de novo (four with unknown origin). The six missense variants identified were suggested to lead to structural or functional changes by protein modeling studies.

Conclusion: The present study shows that clinical manifestations associated with DLG4 overlap with those found in other neurodevelopmental disorders of synaptic dysfunction; thus, we designate this group of disorders as DLG4-related synaptopathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-020-01075-9DOI Listing
May 2021

SPEN haploinsufficiency causes a neurodevelopmental disorder overlapping proximal 1p36 deletion syndrome with an episignature of X chromosomes in females.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 03 16;108(3):502-516. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15224, USA.

Deletion 1p36 (del1p36) syndrome is the most common human disorder resulting from a terminal autosomal deletion. This condition is molecularly and clinically heterogeneous. Deletions involving two non-overlapping regions, known as the distal (telomeric) and proximal (centromeric) critical regions, are sufficient to cause the majority of the recurrent clinical features, although with different facial features and dysmorphisms. SPEN encodes a transcriptional repressor commonly deleted in proximal del1p36 syndrome and is located centromeric to the proximal 1p36 critical region. Here, we used clinical data from 34 individuals with truncating variants in SPEN to define a neurodevelopmental disorder presenting with features that overlap considerably with those of proximal del1p36 syndrome. The clinical profile of this disease includes developmental delay/intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, aggressive behavior, attention deficit disorder, hypotonia, brain and spine anomalies, congenital heart defects, high/narrow palate, facial dysmorphisms, and obesity/increased BMI, especially in females. SPEN also emerges as a relevant gene for del1p36 syndrome by co-expression analyses. Finally, we show that haploinsufficiency of SPEN is associated with a distinctive DNA methylation episignature of the X chromosome in affected females, providing further evidence of a specific contribution of the protein to the epigenetic control of this chromosome, and a paradigm of an X chromosome-specific episignature that classifies syndromic traits. We conclude that SPEN is required for multiple developmental processes and SPEN haploinsufficiency is a major contributor to a disorder associated with deletions centromeric to the previously established 1p36 critical regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.01.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8008487PMC
March 2021

MED27 Variants Cause Developmental Delay, Dystonia, and Cerebellar Hypoplasia.

Ann Neurol 2021 04 8;89(4):828-833. Epub 2021 Feb 8.

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

The Mediator multiprotein complex functions as a regulator of RNA polymerase II-catalyzed gene transcription. In this study, exome sequencing detected biallelic putative disease-causing variants in MED27, encoding Mediator complex subunit 27, in 16 patients from 11 families with a novel neurodevelopmental syndrome. Patient phenotypes are highly homogeneous, including global developmental delay, intellectual disability, axial hypotonia with distal spasticity, dystonic movements, and cerebellar hypoplasia. Seizures and cataracts were noted in severely affected individuals. Identification of multiple patients with biallelic MED27 variants supports the critical role of MED27 in normal human neural development, particularly for the cerebellum. ANN NEUROL 2021;89:828-833.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.26019DOI Listing
April 2021

Bi-allelic Pathogenic Variants in HS2ST1 Cause a Syndrome Characterized by Developmental Delay and Corpus Callosum, Skeletal, and Renal Abnormalities.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 12 6;107(6):1044-1061. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany. Electronic address:

Heparan sulfate belongs to the group of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), highly sulfated linear polysaccharides. Heparan sulfate 2-O-sulfotransferase 1 (HS2ST1) is one of several specialized enzymes required for heparan sulfate synthesis and catalyzes the transfer of the sulfate groups to the sugar moiety of heparan sulfate. We report bi-allelic pathogenic variants in HS2ST1 in four individuals from three unrelated families. Affected individuals showed facial dysmorphism with coarse face, upslanted palpebral fissures, broad nasal tip, and wide mouth, developmental delay and/or intellectual disability, corpus callosum agenesis or hypoplasia, flexion contractures, brachydactyly of hands and feet with broad fingertips and toes, and uni- or bilateral renal agenesis in three individuals. HS2ST1 variants cause a reduction in HS2ST1 mRNA and decreased or absent heparan sulfate 2-O-sulfotransferase 1 in two of three fibroblast cell lines derived from affected individuals. The heparan sulfate synthesized by the individual 1 cell line lacks 2-O-sulfated domains but had an increase in N- and 6-O-sulfated domains demonstrating functional impairment of the HS2ST1. As heparan sulfate modulates FGF-mediated signaling, we found a significantly decreased activation of the MAP kinases ERK1/2 in FGF-2-stimulated cell lines of affected individuals that could be restored by addition of heparin, a GAG similar to heparan sulfate. Focal adhesions in FGF-2-stimulated fibroblasts of affected individuals concentrated at the cell periphery. Our data demonstrate that a heparan sulfate synthesis deficit causes a recognizable syndrome and emphasize a role for 2-O-sulfated heparan sulfate in human neuronal, skeletal, and renal development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.10.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7820632PMC
December 2020

New insights into the clinical and molecular spectrum of the novel CYFIP2-related neurodevelopmental disorder and impairment of the WRC-mediated actin dynamics.

Genet Med 2021 03 5;23(3):543-554. Epub 2020 Nov 5.

Department of Medical Genetics, Lyon University Hospital, Lyon, France.

Purpose: A few de novo missense variants in the cytoplasmic FMRP-interacting protein 2 (CYFIP2) gene have recently been described as a novel cause of severe intellectual disability, seizures, and hypotonia in 18 individuals, with p.Arg87 substitutions in the majority.

Methods: We assembled data from 19 newly identified and all 18 previously published individuals with CYFIP2 variants. By structural modeling and investigation of WAVE-regulatory complex (WRC)-mediated actin polymerization in six patient fibroblast lines we assessed the impact of CYFIP2 variants on the WRC.

Results: Sixteen of 19 individuals harbor two previously described and 11 novel (likely) disease-associated missense variants. We report p.Asp724 as second mutational hotspot (4/19 cases). Genotype-phenotype correlation confirms a consistently severe phenotype in p.Arg87 patients but a more variable phenotype in p.Asp724 and other substitutions. Three individuals with milder phenotypes carry putative loss-of-function variants, which remain of unclear pathogenicity. Structural modeling predicted missense variants to disturb interactions within the WRC or impair CYFIP2 stability. Consistent with its role in WRC-mediated actin polymerization we substantiate aberrant regulation of the actin cytoskeleton in patient fibroblasts.

Conclusion: Our study expands the clinical and molecular spectrum of CYFIP2-related neurodevelopmental disorder and provides evidence for aberrant WRC-mediated actin dynamics as contributing cellular pathomechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-020-01011-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7935717PMC
March 2021

The broad phenotypic spectrum of PPP2R1A-related neurodevelopmental disorders correlates with the degree of biochemical dysfunction.

Genet Med 2021 02 27;23(2):352-362. Epub 2020 Oct 27.

All Wales Medical Genomics Service, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK.

Purpose: Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) caused by protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) dysfunction have mainly been associated with de novo variants in PPP2R5D and PPP2CA, and more rarely in PPP2R1A. Here, we aimed to better understand the latter by characterizing 30 individuals with de novo and often recurrent variants in this PP2A scaffolding Aα subunit.

Methods: Most cases were identified through routine clinical diagnostics. Variants were biochemically characterized for phosphatase activity and interaction with other PP2A subunits.

Results: We describe 30 individuals with 16 different variants in PPP2R1A, 21 of whom had variants not previously reported. The severity of developmental delay ranged from mild learning problems to severe intellectual disability (ID) with or without epilepsy. Common features were language delay, hypotonia, and hypermobile joints. Macrocephaly was only seen in individuals without B55α subunit-binding deficit, and these patients had less severe ID and no seizures. Biochemically more disruptive variants with impaired B55α but increased striatin binding were associated with profound ID, epilepsy, corpus callosum hypoplasia, and sometimes microcephaly.

Conclusion: We significantly expand the phenotypic spectrum of PPP2R1A-related NDD, revealing a broader clinical presentation of the patients and that the functional consequences of the variants are more diverse than previously reported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-020-00981-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7862067PMC
February 2021

Severe reaction to radiotherapy provoked by hypomorphic germline mutations in ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia mutated gene).

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2020 10 3;8(10):e1409. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Zurich, Schlieren-Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: A minority of breast cancer (BC) patients suffer from severe reaction to adjuvant radiotherapy (RT). Although deficient DNA double-strand break repair is considered the main basis for the reactions, pretreatment identification of high-risk patients has been challenging.

Methods: To retrospectively determine the etiology of severe local reaction to RT in a 39-year-old woman with BC, we performed next-generation sequencing followed by further clinical and functional studies.

Results: We found a -4 intronic variant (c.2251-4A>G) in trans with a synonymous (c.3576G>A) variant affecting the ATM DNA-repair gene (NG_009830.1, NM_000051.3) which is linked to autosomal recessive ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T). We verified abnormal transcripts resulting from both variants, next to a minor wild-type transcript leading to a residual ATM kinase activity and genomic instability. Follow-up examination of the patient revealed no classic sign of A-T but previously unnoticed head dystonia and mild dysarthria, a family history of BC and late-onset ataxia segregating with the variants. Additionally, her serum level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) was elevated similar to A-T patients.

Conclusion: Considering the variable presentations of A-T and devastating impact of severe reactions to RT, we suggest a routine measurement of AFP in RT-candidate BC patients followed by next-generation sequencing with special attention to non-canonical splice site and synonymous variants in ATM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.1409DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7549565PMC
October 2020

Genome-wide non-invasive prenatal testing in single- and multiple-pregnancies at any risk: Identification of maternal polymorphisms to reduce the number of unnecessary invasive confirmation testing.

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2020 Sep 2;252:19-29. Epub 2020 Jun 2.

Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Objective: Non-invasive prenatal testing by targeted or genome-wide copy number profiling (cnNIPT) has the potential to outperform standard NIPT targeting the common trisomies 13, 18, and 21, only. Nevertheless, prospective results and outcome data on cnNIPT are still scarce and there is increasing evidence for maternal copy number variants (CNVs) interfering with results of both, standard and cnNIPT.

Study Design: We assessed the performance of cnNIPT in 3053 prospective and 116 retrospective cases with special consideration of maternal CNVs in singleton and multiple gestational pregnancies at any risk, as well as comprehensive follow-up.

Results: A result was achieved in 2998 (98.2%) of total prospective cases (89.2% analyzed genome-wide). Confirmed fetal chromosomal abnormalities were detected in 45 (1.5%) cases, of which five (11%) would have remained undetected in standard NIPTs. Additionally, we observed 4 likely fetal trisomies without follow-up and a likely phenotype associated placental partial trisomy 16. Moreover, we observed clinically relevant confirmed maternal CNVs in 9 (0.3%) cases and likely maternal clonal hematopoiesis in 3 (0.1%). For common fetal trisomies we prospectively observed a very high sensitivity (100% [95% CI: 91.96-100%]) and specificity (>99.9% [95% CI: 99.8-100%]), and positive predictive value (PPV) (97.8% [95% CI: 86.1-99.7%]), but our retrospective control cases demonstrated that due to cases of fetal restricted mosaicism the true sensitivity of NIPT is lower. After showing that 97.3% of small CNVs prospectively observed in 8.3% of genome-wide tests were mostly benign maternal variants, sensitivity (75.0% [95% CI: 19.4%-99.4%]), specificity (99.7% [99.5%-99.9%]) and PPV (30.0% [14.5%-52.1%]) for relevant fetal CNVs were relatively high, too. Maternal autoimmune disorders and medication, such as dalteparin, seem to impair assay quality.

Conclusion: When maternal CNVs are recognized as such, cnNIPT showed a very high sensitivity, specificity and PPV for common trisomies in single and multiple pregnancies at any risk and very good values genome-wide. We found that the resolution for segmental aberrations is generally comparable to standard karyotyping, and exceeds the latter if the fetal fraction is above 10%, which allows detection of the 2.5 Mb 22q11.2 microdeletion associated with the velocardiofacial syndrome, even if the mother is not a carrier.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.05.070DOI Listing
September 2020

Swiss newborn screening for severe T and B cell deficiency with a combined TREC/KREC assay - management recommendations.

Swiss Med Wkly 2020 Jun 24;150:w20254. Epub 2020 Jun 24.

University Children's Hospital Zurich, Switzerland.

The recent introduction of newborn screening for severe primary T and B cell deficiencies in Switzerland allows rapid identification of patients with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Outcomes for SCID are greatly improved by early diagnosis and treatment with allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation or, in selected cases, gene therapy. National centralised newborn screening is performed in Switzerland since January 2019 using a combined T cell receptor excision circles (TREC) / κ-deleting recombination excision circles (KREC) assay, also revealing infants with non-SCID severe T and B cell disorders, who are often diagnosed with a substantial delay. Here, we outline the screening procedure currently performed in Switzerland and give recommendations for diagnostic evaluations and precautionary measures against infection in children with abnormal screening test results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4414/smw.2020.20254DOI Listing
June 2020

Novel morphological and genetic features of fumarate hydratase deficient renal cell carcinoma in HLRCC syndrome patients with a tailored therapeutic approach.

Genes Chromosomes Cancer 2020 11 7;59(11):611-619. Epub 2020 Jul 7.

Department of Pathology and Molecular Pathology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

The hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma syndrome (HLRCC) is defined by germline mutations in the fumarate hydratase (FH) gene and associated with leiomyomas and aggressive renal cell carcinomas with FH deficiency. Here, we comprehensively characterize two new patients with HLRCC syndrome on a morphological, immunohistochemical and genetic level. The patients developed aggressive HLRCC syndrome-associated RCCs, uterine leiomyomas and dermal leiomyomas. One HLRCC syndrome-associated RCC exhibited an unusual morphology with accumulation of "colloid-like" cytoplasmic inclusions, which might serve as a novel sentinel feature to trigger further testing. This case showed partially retained FH expression, initially hampering correct diagnosis. Comprehensive next-generation sequencing analyses of HLRCC syndrome-associated RCC and leiomyomas in our patients revealed divergent genetic changes in the FH gene in different tumors from the same patient. While all leiomyomas (uterine and cutaneous) showed a FH loss of heterozygosity (LOH) as a wildtype allele inactivating event, one HLRCC-RCC showed a second, undescribed NM_000143.3; c.947C>T; p.Ala316Val FH mutation accompanying the preexisting splice site mutation c.378+2T>C. In the other HLRCC syndrome-associated RCC, the FH mutation (NM_000143.3; c.462T>G; p.Asn154Lys with a somatic LOH) represents another variant of unknown significance that we link to HLRCC - and thus classify as likely pathogenic. Due to the specific diagnosis of metastatic HLRCC syndrome-associated RCC, both cases were treated in first line with bevacizumab/erlotinib and showed remarkable and long lasting responses. These findings allow new morphological and molecular insights into the biology of the HLRCC syndrome, corroborate the "second hit" hypothesis of tumor formation in HLRCC patients and may promote a distinct therapeutic approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gcc.22878DOI Listing
November 2020

Characterization of SETD1A haploinsufficiency in humans and Drosophila defines a novel neurodevelopmental syndrome.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 Apr 28. Epub 2020 Apr 28.

Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine, Children's Mercy Hospital, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Kansas City, MO, USA.

Defects in histone methyltransferases (HMTs) are major contributing factors in neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Heterozygous variants of SETD1A involved in histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methylation were previously identified in individuals with schizophrenia. Here, we define the clinical features of the Mendelian syndrome associated with haploinsufficiency of SETD1A by investigating 15 predominantly pediatric individuals who all have de novo SETD1A variants. These individuals present with a core set of symptoms comprising global developmental delay and/or intellectual disability, subtle facial dysmorphisms, behavioral and psychiatric problems. We examined cellular phenotypes in three patient-derived lymphoblastoid cell lines with three variants: p.Gly535Alafs*12, c.4582-2_4582delAG, and p.Tyr1499Asp. These patient cell lines displayed DNA damage repair defects that were comparable to previously observed RNAi-mediated depletion of SETD1A. This suggested that these variants, including the p.Tyr1499Asp in the catalytic SET domain, behave as loss-of-function (LoF) alleles. Previous studies demonstrated a role for SETD1A in cell cycle control and differentiation. However, individuals with SETD1A variants do not show major structural brain defects or severe microcephaly, suggesting that defective proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitors is unlikely the single underlying cause of the disorder. We show here that the Drosophila melanogaster SETD1A orthologue is required in postmitotic neurons of the fly brain for normal memory, suggesting a role in post development neuronal function. Together, this study defines a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by dominant de novo LoF variants in SETD1A and further supports a role for H3K4 methyltransferases in the regulation of neuronal processes underlying normal cognitive functioning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0725-5DOI Listing
April 2020

Insight Into the Ontogeny of GnRH Neurons From Patients Born Without a Nose.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2020 05;105(5)

Service de Génétique Clinique, CHU Robert Debré, Paris, France.

Context: The reproductive axis is controlled by a network of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons born in the primitive nose that migrate to the hypothalamus alongside axons of the olfactory system. The observation that congenital anosmia (inability to smell) is often associated with GnRH deficiency in humans led to the prevailing view that GnRH neurons depend on olfactory structures to reach the brain, but this hypothesis has not been confirmed.

Objective: The objective of this work is to determine the potential for normal reproductive function in the setting of completely absent internal and external olfactory structures.

Methods: We conducted comprehensive phenotyping studies in 11 patients with congenital arhinia. These studies were augmented by review of medical records and study questionnaires in another 40 international patients.

Results: All male patients demonstrated clinical and/or biochemical signs of GnRH deficiency, and the 5 men studied in person had no luteinizing hormone (LH) pulses, suggesting absent GnRH activity. The 6 women studied in person also had apulsatile LH profiles, yet 3 had spontaneous breast development and 2 women (studied from afar) had normal breast development and menstrual cycles, suggesting a fully intact reproductive axis. Administration of pulsatile GnRH to 2 GnRH-deficient patients revealed normal pituitary responsiveness but gonadal failure in the male patient.

Conclusions: Patients with arhinia teach us that the GnRH neuron, a key gatekeeper of the reproductive axis, is associated with but may not depend on olfactory structures for normal migration and function, and more broadly, illustrate the power of extreme human phenotypes in answering fundamental questions about human embryology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa065DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7108682PMC
May 2020

primary microcephaly is associated with hypothalamic, retinal and cochlear developmental defects.

J Med Genet 2020 06 3;57(6):389-399. Epub 2020 Feb 3.

Département de Génétique, APHP, Hopital Robert Debré, 75019 Paris, France

Background: Primary hereditary microcephaly (MCPH) comprises a large group of autosomal recessive disorders mainly affecting cortical development and resulting in a congenital impairment of brain growth. Despite the identification of >25 causal genes so far, it remains a challenge to distinguish between different MCPH forms at the clinical level.

Methods: 7 patients with newly identified mutations in (MCPH3) were investigated by performing prospective, extensive and systematic clinical, MRI, psychomotor, neurosensory and cognitive examinations under similar conditions.

Results: All patients displayed neurosensory defects in addition to microcephaly. Small cochlea with incomplete partition type II was found in all cases and was associated with progressive deafness in 4 of them. Furthermore, the CDK5RAP2 protein was specifically identified in the developing cochlea from human fetal tissues. Microphthalmia was also present in all patients along with retinal pigmentation changes and lipofuscin deposits. Finally, hypothalamic anomalies consisting of interhypothalamic adhesions, a congenital midline defect usually associated with holoprosencephaly, was detected in 5 cases.

Conclusion: This is the first report indicating that not only governs brain size but also plays a role in ocular and cochlear development and is necessary for hypothalamic nuclear separation at the midline. Our data indicate that CDK5RAP2 should be considered as a potential gene associated with deafness and forme fruste of holoprosencephaly. These children should be given neurosensory follow-up to prevent additional comorbidities and allow them reaching their full educational potential.

Trial Registration Number: NCT01565005.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2019-106474DOI Listing
June 2020

High-resolution chromosomal microarray analysis for copy-number variations in high-functioning autism reveals large aberration typical for intellectual disability.

J Neural Transm (Vienna) 2020 01 14;127(1):81-94. Epub 2019 Dec 14.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich, University of Zurich, Wagistrasse 12, 8952, Schlieren, Switzerland.

Copy-number variants (CNVs), in particular rare, small and large ones (< 1% frequency) and those encompassing brain-related genes, have been shown to be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and intellectual disability (ID). However, the vast majority of CNV findings lack specificity with respect to autistic or developmental-delay phenotypes. Therefore, the aim of the study was to investigate the size and frequency of CNVs in high-functioning ASD (HFA) without ID compared with a random population sample and with published findings in ASD and ID. To investigate the role of CNVs for the "core symptoms" of high-functioning autism, we included in the present exploratory study only patients with HFA without ID. The aim was to test whether HFA have similar large rare (> 1 Mb) CNVs as reported in ASD and ID. We performed high-resolution chromosomal microarray analysis in 108 children and adolescents with HFA without ID. There was no significant difference in the overall number of rare CNVs compared to 124 random population samples. However, patients with HFA carried significantly more frequently CNVs containing brain-related genes. Surprisingly, six HFA patients carried very large CNVs known to be typically present in ID. Our findings provide new evidence that not only small, but also large CNVs affecting several key genes contribute to the genetic etiology/risk of HFA without affecting their intellectual ability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00702-019-02114-9DOI Listing
January 2020

Rare copy number variants in individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis: Enrichment of synaptic/brain-related functional pathways.

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 2020 03 19;183(2):140-151. Epub 2019 Nov 19.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital of Psychiatry, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic neuropsychiatric disorder, with a heritability of around 60-80%. Large (>100 kb) rare (<1%) copy number variants (CNVs) occur more frequently in schizophrenia patients compared to controls. Currently, there are no studies reporting genome-wide CNVs in clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR-P) individuals. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of rare genome-wide CNVs in 84 CHR-P individuals and 124 presumably healthy controls. There were no significant differences in all rare CNV frequencies and sizes between CHR-P individuals and controls. However, brain-related CNVs and brain-related deletions were significantly more frequent in CHR-P individuals than controls. In CHR-P individuals, significant associations were found between brain-related CNV carriers and attenuated positive symptoms syndrome or cognitive disturbances (OR = 3.07, p = .0286). Brain-related CNV carriers experienced significantly higher negative symptoms (p = .0047), higher depressive symptoms (p = .0175), and higher disturbances of self and surroundings (p = .0029) than noncarriers. Furthermore, enrichment analysis of genes was performed in the regions of rare CNVs using three independent methods, which confirmed significant clustering of predefined genes involved in synaptic/brain-related functional pathways in CHR-P individuals. These results suggest that rare CNVs might affect synaptic/brain-related functional pathways in CHR-P individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.b.32770DOI Listing
March 2020

De Novo Pathogenic Variants in N-cadherin Cause a Syndromic Neurodevelopmental Disorder with Corpus Collosum, Axon, Cardiac, Ocular, and Genital Defects.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 10;105(4):854-868

Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, H3A 2B4, Montreal, QC, Canada; Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, H3A 2B4, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Cadherins constitute a family of transmembrane proteins that mediate calcium-dependent cell-cell adhesion. The extracellular domain of cadherins consists of extracellular cadherin (EC) domains, separated by calcium binding sites. The EC interacts with other cadherin molecules in cis and in trans to mechanically hold apposing cell surfaces together. CDH2 encodes N-cadherin, whose essential roles in neural development include neuronal migration and axon pathfinding. However, CDH2 has not yet been linked to a Mendelian neurodevelopmental disorder. Here, we report de novo heterozygous pathogenic variants (seven missense, two frameshift) in CDH2 in nine individuals with a syndromic neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by global developmental delay and/or intellectual disability, variable axon pathfinding defects (corpus callosum agenesis or hypoplasia, mirror movements, Duane anomaly), and ocular, cardiac, and genital anomalies. All seven missense variants (c.1057G>A [p.Asp353Asn]; c.1789G>A [p.Asp597Asn]; c.1789G>T [p.Asp597Tyr]; c.1802A>C [p.Asn601Thr]; c.1839C>G [p.Cys613Trp]; c.1880A>G [p.Asp627Gly]; c.2027A>G [p.Tyr676Cys]) result in substitution of highly conserved residues, and six of seven cluster within EC domains 4 and 5. Four of the substitutions affect the calcium-binding site in the EC4-EC5 interdomain. We show that cells expressing these variants in the EC4-EC5 domains have a defect in cell-cell adhesion; this defect includes impaired binding in trans with N-cadherin-WT expressed on apposing cells. The two frameshift variants (c.2563_2564delCT [p.Leu855Valfs4]; c.2564_2567dupTGTT [p.Leu856Phefs5]) are predicted to lead to a truncated cytoplasmic domain. Our study demonstrates that de novo heterozygous variants in CDH2 impair the adhesive activity of N-cadherin, resulting in a multisystemic developmental disorder, that could be named ACOG syndrome (agenesis of corpus callosum, axon pathfinding, cardiac, ocular, and genital defects).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.09.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817525PMC
October 2019

Prenatal diagnosis of HNF1B-associated renal cysts: Is there a need to differentiate intragenic variants from 17q12 microdeletion syndrome?

Prenat Diagn 2019 11 25;39(12):1136-1147. Epub 2019 Oct 25.

Institute of Human Genetics, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Erlangen, Germany.

Objective: 17q12 microdeletions containing HNF1B and intragenic variants within this gene are associated with variable developmental, endocrine, and renal anomalies, often already noted prenatally as hyperechogenic/cystic kidneys. Here, we describe prenatal and postnatal phenotypes of seven individuals with HNF1B aberrations and compare their clinical and genetic data to those of previous studies.

Methods: Prenatal sequencing and postnatal chromosomal microarray analysis were performed in seven individuals with renal and/or neurodevelopmental phenotypes. We evaluated HNF1B-related clinical features from 82 studies and reclassified 192 reported intragenic HNF1B variants.

Results: In a prenatal case, we identified a novel in-frame deletion p.(Gly239del) within the HNF1B DNA-binding domain, a mutational hot spot as demonstrated by spatial clustering analysis and high computational prediction scores. The six postnatally diagnosed individuals harbored 17q12 microdeletions. Literature screening revealed variable reporting of HNF1B-associated clinical traits. Overall, both mutation groups showed a high phenotypic heterogeneity. The reclassification of all previously reported intragenic HNF1B variants provided an up-to-date overview of the mutational spectrum.

Conclusions: We highlight the value of prenatal HNF1B screening in renal developmental diseases. Standardized clinical reporting and systematic classification of HNF1B variants are necessary for a more accurate risk quantification of prenatal and postnatal clinical features, improving genetic counseling and prenatal decision making.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pd.5556DOI Listing
November 2019

Partial Loss of USP9X Function Leads to a Male Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Disorder Converging on Transforming Growth Factor β Signaling.

Biol Psychiatry 2020 01 29;87(2):100-112. Epub 2019 Jun 29.

Institute of Human Genetics, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: The X-chromosome gene USP9X encodes a deubiquitylating enzyme that has been associated with neurodevelopmental disorders primarily in female subjects. USP9X escapes X inactivation, and in female subjects de novo heterozygous copy number loss or truncating mutations cause haploinsufficiency culminating in a recognizable syndrome with intellectual disability and signature brain and congenital abnormalities. In contrast, the involvement of USP9X in male neurodevelopmental disorders remains tentative.

Methods: We used clinically recommended guidelines to collect and interrogate the pathogenicity of 44 USP9X variants associated with neurodevelopmental disorders in males. Functional studies in patient-derived cell lines and mice were used to determine mechanisms of pathology.

Results: Twelve missense variants showed strong evidence of pathogenicity. We define a characteristic phenotype of the central nervous system (white matter disturbances, thin corpus callosum, and widened ventricles); global delay with significant alteration of speech, language, and behavior; hypotonia; joint hypermobility; visual system defects; and other common congenital and dysmorphic features. Comparison of in silico and phenotypical features align additional variants of unknown significance with likely pathogenicity. In support of partial loss-of-function mechanisms, using patient-derived cell lines, we show loss of only specific USP9X substrates that regulate neurodevelopmental signaling pathways and a united defect in transforming growth factor β signaling. In addition, we find correlates of the male phenotype in Usp9x brain-specific knockout mice, and further resolve loss of hippocampal-dependent learning and memory.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrate the involvement of USP9X variants in a distinctive neurodevelopmental and behavioral syndrome in male subjects and identify plausible mechanisms of pathogenesis centered on disrupted transforming growth factor β signaling and hippocampal function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.05.028DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6925349PMC
January 2020

Prevalence of genetic susceptibility for breast and ovarian cancer in a non-cancer related study population: secondary germline findings from a Swiss single centre cohort.

Swiss Med Wkly 2019 Aug 18;149:w20092. Epub 2019 Aug 18.

Institute of Medical Genetics (IMG), University of Zurich, Schlieren-Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Since the advent of high-throughput sequencing technologies, organised germline screening, independent of the personal and family cancer history, has been frequently proposed. Since ethnic and geographic populations significantly differ in their mutation spectra and prevalence, one critical prerequisite would be the knowledge of the expected carrier frequencies.

Objective: For the first time, in a retrospective non-cancer related cohort from a single Swiss genetic centre, we systematically assessed the prevalence of secondary findings in 19 genes (BRCA1/2 plus 17 non-BRCA genes) previously designated by the US National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) germline testing.

Design: A total of 400 individuals without a cancer diagnosis undergoing whole-exome sequencing (WES) analysis for neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) from 2015 to 2017 at IMG Zurich were included after quality assessment. Among these, 180 were unaffected parental couples, 27 unaffected parental singles and 13 NDD index patients (mean age 43 years). The majority of the cohort was of Caucasian ethnicity (n = 336, 84.0%) and of Northwest European ancestry (n = 202, 50.5%), for 70 of whom (42.5%) an autochthonous Swiss descent was assumed. For WES filtering of rare, potentially actionable secondary variants in HBOC genes, an overall minor allele frequency (MAF) below 0.65% was used as cut-off. Each rare variant was manually evaluated according to the recommended ACGM-AMP standards, with some adaptations including “hypomorphic” as an additional distinct pathogenicity class.

Results: Overall, 526 rare secondary variants (339 different variants) were encountered, with the BRCA1/2 genes accounting for 27.2% of the total variant yield. If stratified for variant pathogenicity, for BRCA1/2, three pathogenic variants were found in three females of Italian ancestry (carrier frequency of 0.8%). In the non-BRCA genes, five carriers of (likely) pathogenic variants (1.3%) were identified, with two Swiss individuals harbouring the same CHEK2 Arg160Gly variant known to be recurrent among Caucasians. Hence, the overall carrier rate added up to 2.0%. Additionally, seven various hypomorphic HBOC predisposing alleles were detected in 22 individuals (5.5%).

Conclusion: We provide the first evidence of a high prevalence of HBOC-related cancer susceptibility in the heterogeneous Swiss general population and relevant subpopulations, particularly in individuals of Italian descent. These pioneering data may substantiate population-based HBOC screening in Switzerland.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4414/smw.2019.20092DOI Listing
August 2019

A clinical scoring system for congenital contractural arachnodactyly.

Genet Med 2020 01 18;22(1):124-131. Epub 2019 Jul 18.

Center for Human Genetics, Institute of Pathology and Genetics (IPG), Gosselies, Belgium.

Purpose: Congenital contractural arachnodactyly (CCA) is an autosomal dominant connective tissue disorder manifesting joint contractures, arachnodactyly, crumpled ears, and kyphoscoliosis as main features. Due to its rarity, rather aspecific clinical presentation, and overlap with other conditions including Marfan syndrome, the diagnosis is challenging, but important for prognosis and clinical management. CCA is caused by pathogenic variants in FBN2, encoding fibrillin-2, but locus heterogeneity has been suggested. We designed a clinical scoring system and diagnostic criteria to support the diagnostic process and guide molecular genetic testing.

Methods: In this retrospective study, we assessed 167 probands referred for FBN2 analysis and classified them into a FBN2-positive (n = 44) and FBN2-negative group (n = 123) following molecular analysis. We developed a 20-point weighted clinical scoring system based on the prevalence of ten main clinical characteristics of CCA in both groups.

Results: The total score was significantly different between the groups (P < 0.001) and was indicative for classifying patients into unlikely CCA (total score <7) and likely CCA (total score ≥7) groups.

Conclusions: Our clinical score is helpful for clinical guidance for patients suspected to have CCA, and provides a quantitative tool for phenotyping in research settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-019-0609-8DOI Listing
January 2020

Heterozygous Variants in KMT2E Cause a Spectrum of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Epilepsy.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 06 9;104(6):1210-1222. Epub 2019 May 9.

Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen 72076, Germany.

We delineate a KMT2E-related neurodevelopmental disorder on the basis of 38 individuals in 36 families. This study includes 31 distinct heterozygous variants in KMT2E (28 ascertained from Matchmaker Exchange and three previously reported), and four individuals with chromosome 7q22.2-22.23 microdeletions encompassing KMT2E (one previously reported). Almost all variants occurred de novo, and most were truncating. Most affected individuals with protein-truncating variants presented with mild intellectual disability. One-quarter of individuals met criteria for autism. Additional common features include macrocephaly, hypotonia, functional gastrointestinal abnormalities, and a subtle facial gestalt. Epilepsy was present in about one-fifth of individuals with truncating variants and was responsive to treatment with anti-epileptic medications in almost all. More than 70% of the individuals were male, and expressivity was variable by sex; epilepsy was more common in females and autism more common in males. The four individuals with microdeletions encompassing KMT2E generally presented similarly to those with truncating variants, but the degree of developmental delay was greater. The group of four individuals with missense variants in KMT2E presented with the most severe developmental delays. Epilepsy was present in all individuals with missense variants, often manifesting as treatment-resistant infantile epileptic encephalopathy. Microcephaly was also common in this group. Haploinsufficiency versus gain-of-function or dominant-negative effects specific to these missense variants in KMT2E might explain this divergence in phenotype, but requires independent validation. Disruptive variants in KMT2E are an under-recognized cause of neurodevelopmental abnormalities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.03.021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556837PMC
June 2019

Deleterious Variation in BRSK2 Associates with a Neurodevelopmental Disorder.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 04 14;104(4):701-708. Epub 2019 Mar 14.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, AL 35806, USA. Electronic address:

Developmental delay and intellectual disability (DD and ID) are heterogeneous phenotypes that arise in many rare monogenic disorders. Because of this rarity, developing cohorts with enough individuals to robustly identify disease-associated genes is challenging. Social-media platforms that facilitate data sharing among sequencing labs can help to address this challenge. Through one such tool, GeneMatcher, we identified nine DD- and/or ID-affected probands with a rare, heterozygous variant in the gene encoding the serine/threonine-protein kinase BRSK2. All probands have a speech delay, and most present with intellectual disability, motor delay, behavioral issues, and autism. Six of the nine variants are predicted to result in loss of function, and computational modeling predicts that the remaining three missense variants are damaging to BRSK2 structure and function. All nine variants are absent from large variant databases, and BRSK2 is, in general, relatively intolerant to protein-altering variation among humans. In all six probands for whom parents were available, the mutations were found to have arisen de novo. Five of these de novo variants were from cohorts with at least 400 sequenced probands; collectively, the cohorts span 3,429 probands, and the observed rate of de novo variation in these cohorts is significantly higher than the estimated background-mutation rate (p = 2.46 × 10). We also find that exome sequencing provides lower coverage and appears less sensitive to rare variation in BRSK2 than does genome sequencing; this fact most likely reduces BRSK2's visibility in many clinical and research sequencing efforts. Altogether, our results implicate damaging variation in BRSK2 as a source of neurodevelopmental disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.02.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451696PMC
April 2019

Elucidation of the phenotypic spectrum and genetic landscape in primary and secondary microcephaly.

Genet Med 2019 09 7;21(9):2043-2058. Epub 2019 Mar 7.

Child Development Center, University Children's Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Purpose: Microcephaly is a sign of many genetic conditions but has been rarely systematically evaluated. We therefore comprehensively studied the clinical and genetic landscape of an unselected cohort of patients with microcephaly.

Methods: We performed clinical assessment, high-resolution chromosomal microarray analysis, exome sequencing, and functional studies in 62 patients (58% with primary microcephaly [PM], 27% with secondary microcephaly [SM], and 15% of unknown onset).

Results: We found severity of developmental delay/intellectual disability correlating with severity of microcephaly in PM, but not SM. We detected causative variants in 48.4% of patients and found divergent inheritance and variant pattern for PM (mainly recessive and likely gene-disrupting [LGD]) versus SM (all dominant de novo and evenly LGD or missense). While centrosome-related pathways were solely identified in PM, transcriptional regulation was the most frequently affected pathway in both SM and PM. Unexpectedly, we found causative variants in different mitochondria-related genes accounting for ~5% of patients, which emphasizes their role even in syndromic PM. Additionally, we delineated novel candidate genes involved in centrosome-related pathway (SPAG5, TEDC1), Wnt signaling (VPS26A, ZNRF3), and RNA trafficking (DDX1).

Conclusion: Our findings enable improved evaluation and genetic counseling of PM and SM patients and further elucidate microcephaly pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-019-0464-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6752480PMC
September 2019

Further corroboration of distinct functional features in SCN2A variants causing intellectual disability or epileptic phenotypes.

Mol Med 2019 02 27;25(1). Epub 2019 Feb 27.

Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Zurich, 8952, Schlieren, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Deleterious variants in the voltage-gated sodium channel type 2 (Na1.2) lead to a broad spectrum of phenotypes ranging from benign familial neonatal-infantile epilepsy (BFNIE), severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) and intellectual disability (ID) to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Yet, the underlying mechanisms are still incompletely understood.

Methods: To further elucidate the genotype-phenotype correlation of SCN2A variants we investigated the functional effects of six variants representing the phenotypic spectrum by whole-cell patch-clamp studies in transfected HEK293T cells and in-silico structural modeling.

Results: The two variants p.L1342P and p.E1803G detected in patients with early onset epileptic encephalopathy (EE) showed profound and complex changes in channel gating, whereas the BFNIE variant p.L1563V exhibited only a small gain of channel function. The three variants identified in ID patients without seizures, p.R937C, p.L611Vfs*35 and p.W1716*, did not produce measurable currents. Homology modeling of the missense variants predicted structural impairments consistent with the electrophysiological findings.

Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis that complete loss-of-function variants lead to ID without seizures, small gain-of-function variants cause BFNIE and EE variants exhibit variable but profound Na1.2 gating changes. Moreover, structural modeling was able to predict the severity of the variant impact, supporting a potential role of structural modeling as a prognostic tool. Our study on the functional consequences of SCN2A variants causing the distinct phenotypes of EE, BFNIE and ID contributes to the elucidation of mechanisms underlying the broad phenotypic variability reported for SCN2A variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s10020-019-0073-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6391808PMC
February 2019