Publications by authors named "Davor Lessel"

69 Publications

A novel homozygous synonymous variant further expands the phenotypic spectrum of POLR3A-related pathologies.

Am J Med Genet A 2021 Oct 5. Epub 2021 Oct 5.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Pathogenic biallelic variants in POL3RA have been associated with different disorders characterized by progressive neurological deterioration. These include the 4H leukodystrophy syndrome (hypomyelination, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, and hypodontia) and adolescent-onset progressive spastic ataxia, as well as Wiedemann-Rautenstrauch syndrome (WRS), a recognizable neonatal progeroid syndrome. The phenotypic differences between these disorders are thought to occur mainly due to different functional effects of underlying POLR3A variants. Here we present the detailed clinical course of a 37-year-old woman in whom we identified a homozygous synonymous POLR3A variant c.3336G>A resulting in leaky splicing r.[3336ins192, =, 3243_3336del94]. She presented at birth with intrauterine growth retardation, lipodystrophy, muscular hypotonia, and several WRS-like facial features, albeit without sparse hair and prominent scalp veins. She had no signs of developmental delay or intellectual disability. Over the years, above characteristic facial features, she showed severe postnatal growth retardation, global lipodystrophy, joint contractures, thoracic hypoplasia, scoliosis, anodontia, spastic quadriplegia, bilateral hearing loss, aphonia, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, and cerebellar peduncles hyperintensities in brain imaging. These manifestations partially overlap the clinical features of the previously reported POLR3A-associated disorders, mostly mimicking the WRS. Thus, our study expands the POLR3A-mediated phenotypic spectrum and suggests existence of a phenotypic continuum underlying biallelic POLR3A variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.62525DOI Listing
October 2021

Prevalence and clinical prediction of mitochondrial disorders in a large neuropediatric cohort.

Clin Genet 2021 12 19;100(6):766-770. Epub 2021 Sep 19.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Neurological symptoms are frequent and often a leading feature of childhood-onset mitochondrial disorders (MD) but the exact incidence of MD in unselected neuropediatric patients is unknown. Their early detection is desirable due to a potentially rapid clinical decline and the availability of management options. In 491 children with neurological symptoms, a comprehensive diagnostic work-up including exome sequencing was performed. The success rate in terms of a molecular genetic diagnosis within our cohort was 51%. Disease-causing variants in a mitochondria-associated gene were detected in 12% of solved cases. In order to facilitate the clinical identification of MDs within neuropediatric cohorts, we have created an easy-to-use bedside-tool, the MDC-NP. In our cohort, the MDC-NP predicted disease conditions related to MDs with a sensitivity of 0.83, and a specificity of 0.96.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.14061DOI Listing
December 2021

Identification of 22 susceptibility loci associated with testicular germ cell tumors.

Nat Commun 2021 07 23;12(1):4487. Epub 2021 Jul 23.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT) are the most common tumor in young white men and have a high heritability. In this study, the international Testicular Cancer Consortium assemble 10,156 and 179,683 men with and without TGCT, respectively, for a genome-wide association study. This meta-analysis identifies 22 TGCT susceptibility loci, bringing the total to 78, which account for 44% of disease heritability. Men with a polygenic risk score (PRS) in the 95 percentile have a 6.8-fold increased risk of TGCT compared to men with median scores. Among men with independent TGCT risk factors such as cryptorchidism, the PRS may guide screening decisions with the goal of reducing treatment-related complications causing long-term morbidity in survivors. These findings emphasize the interconnected nature of two known pathways that promote TGCT susceptibility: male germ cell development within its somatic niche and regulation of chromosomal division and structure, and implicate an additional biological pathway, mRNA translation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24334-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8302763PMC
July 2021

Whole-Exome Sequencing in Critically Ill Neonates and Infants: Diagnostic Yield and Predictability of Monogenic Diagnosis.

Neonatology 2021 8;118(4):454-461. Epub 2021 Jul 8.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Introduction: Monogenic diseases play an important role in critically ill neonates and infants treated in the intensive care unit. This study aimed to determine the diagnostic yield of whole-exome sequencing (WES) for monogenic diseases and identify phenotypes more likely associated with a genetic etiology.

Methods: From March 2017 to 2020, a comprehensive diagnostic workup including WES in a single academic center was performed in 61 unrelated, critically ill neonates and infants with an unknown underlying disease within the first year of life. We conducted 59 trio-WES, 1 duo-WES, and 1 single-WES analyses. Symptoms were classified according to the Human Phenotype Ontology.

Results: The overall molecular genetic diagnostic rate within our cohort was 46% (28/61) and 50% (15/30) in the subgroup of preterm neonates. Identifying the genetic cause of disease facilitates individualized management in the majority of patients. A positive or negative predictive power of specific clinical features for a genetic diagnosis could not be observed.

Conclusion: WES is a powerful noninvasive diagnostic tool in critically ill neonates and infants with a high diagnostic rate. We recommend initiating WES as early as possible due to the impact on management and family counseling. Recommendations regarding the clinical utility of WES in critically ill neonates and infants should not be based on the phenotype alone. Here, we present a clinical workflow for the application of WES for critically ill neonates and infants in an interdisciplinary setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000516890DOI Listing
September 2021

ANK3 related neurodevelopmental disorders: expanding the spectrum of heterozygous loss-of-function variants.

Neurogenetics 2021 10 3;22(4):263-269. Epub 2021 Jul 3.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.

ANK3 encodes multiple isoforms of ankyrin-G, resulting in variegated tissue expression and function, especially regarding its role in neuronal development. Based on the zygosity, location, and type, ANK3 variants result in different neurodevelopmental phenotypes. Autism spectrum disorder has been associated with heterozygous missense variants in ANK3, whereas a more severe neurodevelopmental phenotype is caused by isoform-dependent, autosomal-dominant, or autosomal-recessive loss-of-function variants. Here, we present four individuals affected by a variable neurodevelopmental phenotype harboring a heterozygous frameshift or nonsense variant affecting all ANK3 transcripts. Thus, we provide further evidence of an isoform-based phenotypic continuum underlying ANK3-associated pathologies and expand its phenotypic spectrum.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10048-021-00655-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8426245PMC
October 2021

Genotype-phenotype correlations and novel molecular insights into the DHX30-associated neurodevelopmental disorders.

Genome Med 2021 05 21;13(1):90. Epub 2021 May 21.

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

Background: We aimed to define the clinical and variant spectrum and to provide novel molecular insights into the DHX30-associated neurodevelopmental disorder.

Methods: Clinical and genetic data from affected individuals were collected through Facebook-based family support group, GeneMatcher, and our network of collaborators. We investigated the impact of novel missense variants with respect to ATPase and helicase activity, stress granule (SG) formation, global translation, and their effect on embryonic development in zebrafish. SG formation was additionally analyzed in CRISPR/Cas9-mediated DHX30-deficient HEK293T and zebrafish models, along with in vivo behavioral assays.

Results: We identified 25 previously unreported individuals, ten of whom carry novel variants, two of which are recurrent, and provide evidence of gonadal mosaicism in one family. All 19 individuals harboring heterozygous missense variants within helicase core motifs (HCMs) have global developmental delay, intellectual disability, severe speech impairment, and gait abnormalities. These variants impair the ATPase and helicase activity of DHX30, trigger SG formation, interfere with global translation, and cause developmental defects in a zebrafish model. Notably, 4 individuals harboring heterozygous variants resulting either in haploinsufficiency or truncated proteins presented with a milder clinical course, similar to an individual harboring a de novo mosaic HCM missense variant. Functionally, we established DHX30 as an ATP-dependent RNA helicase and as an evolutionary conserved factor in SG assembly. Based on the clinical course, the variant location, and type we establish two distinct clinical subtypes. DHX30 loss-of-function variants cause a milder phenotype whereas a severe phenotype is caused by HCM missense variants that, in addition to the loss of ATPase and helicase activity, lead to a detrimental gain-of-function with respect to SG formation. Behavioral characterization of dhx30-deficient zebrafish revealed altered sleep-wake activity and social interaction, partially resembling the human phenotype.

Conclusions: Our study highlights the usefulness of social media to define novel Mendelian disorders and exemplifies how functional analyses accompanied by clinical and genetic findings can define clinically distinct subtypes for ultra-rare disorders. Such approaches require close interdisciplinary collaboration between families/legal representatives of the affected individuals, clinicians, molecular genetics diagnostic laboratories, and research laboratories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-021-00900-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140440PMC
May 2021

Truncating SRCAP variants outside the Floating-Harbor syndrome locus cause a distinct neurodevelopmental disorder with a specific DNA methylation signature.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 06 27;108(6):1053-1068. Epub 2021 Apr 27.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20251 Hamburg, Germany.

Truncating variants in exons 33 and 34 of the SNF2-related CREBBP activator protein (SRCAP) gene cause the neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) Floating-Harbor syndrome (FLHS), characterized by short stature, speech delay, and facial dysmorphism. Here, we present a cohort of 33 individuals with clinical features distinct from FLHS and truncating (mostly de novo) SRCAP variants either proximal (n = 28) or distal (n = 5) to the FLHS locus. Detailed clinical characterization of the proximal SRCAP individuals identified shared characteristics: developmental delay with or without intellectual disability, behavioral and psychiatric problems, non-specific facial features, musculoskeletal issues, and hypotonia. Because FLHS is known to be associated with a unique set of DNA methylation (DNAm) changes in blood, a DNAm signature, we investigated whether there was a distinct signature associated with our affected individuals. A machine-learning model, based on the FLHS DNAm signature, negatively classified all our tested subjects. Comparing proximal variants with typically developing controls, we identified a DNAm signature distinct from the FLHS signature. Based on the DNAm and clinical data, we refer to the condition as "non-FLHS SRCAP-related NDD." All five distal variants classified negatively using the FLHS DNAm model while two classified positively using the proximal model. This suggests divergent pathogenicity of these variants, though clinically the distal group presented with NDD, similar to the proximal SRCAP group. In summary, for SRCAP, there is a clear relationship between variant location, DNAm profile, and clinical phenotype. These results highlight the power of combined epigenetic, molecular, and clinical studies to identify and characterize genotype-epigenotype-phenotype correlations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.04.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206150PMC
June 2021

Rare deleterious mutations of HNRNP genes result in shared neurodevelopmental disorders.

Genome Med 2021 04 19;13(1):63. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

The Atwal Clinic: Genomic & Personalized Medicine, Jacksonville, FL, USA.

Background: With the increasing number of genomic sequencing studies, hundreds of genes have been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). The rate of gene discovery far outpaces our understanding of genotype-phenotype correlations, with clinical characterization remaining a bottleneck for understanding NDDs. Most disease-associated Mendelian genes are members of gene families, and we hypothesize that those with related molecular function share clinical presentations.

Methods: We tested our hypothesis by considering gene families that have multiple members with an enrichment of de novo variants among NDDs, as determined by previous meta-analyses. One of these gene families is the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs), which has 33 members, five of which have been recently identified as NDD genes (HNRNPK, HNRNPU, HNRNPH1, HNRNPH2, and HNRNPR) and two of which have significant enrichment in our previous meta-analysis of probands with NDDs (HNRNPU and SYNCRIP). Utilizing protein homology, mutation analyses, gene expression analyses, and phenotypic characterization, we provide evidence for variation in 12 HNRNP genes as candidates for NDDs. Seven are potentially novel while the remaining genes in the family likely do not significantly contribute to NDD risk.

Results: We report 119 new NDD cases (64 de novo variants) through sequencing and international collaborations and combined with published clinical case reports. We consider 235 cases with gene-disruptive single-nucleotide variants or indels and 15 cases with small copy number variants. Three hnRNP-encoding genes reach nominal or exome-wide significance for de novo variant enrichment, while nine are candidates for pathogenic mutations. Comparison of HNRNP gene expression shows a pattern consistent with a role in cerebral cortical development with enriched expression among radial glial progenitors. Clinical assessment of probands (n = 188-221) expands the phenotypes associated with HNRNP rare variants, and phenotypes associated with variation in the HNRNP genes distinguishes them as a subgroup of NDDs.

Conclusions: Overall, our novel approach of exploiting gene families in NDDs identifies new HNRNP-related disorders, expands the phenotypes of known HNRNP-related disorders, strongly implicates disruption of the hnRNPs as a whole in NDDs, and supports that NDD subtypes likely have shared molecular pathogenesis. To date, this is the first study to identify novel genetic disorders based on the presence of disorders in related genes. We also perform the first phenotypic analyses focusing on related genes. Finally, we show that radial glial expression of these genes is likely critical during neurodevelopment. This is important for diagnostics, as well as developing strategies to best study these genes for the development of therapeutics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-021-00870-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8056596PMC
April 2021

Trans-ancestry genome-wide association meta-analysis of prostate cancer identifies new susceptibility loci and informs genetic risk prediction.

Nat Genet 2021 01 4;53(1):65-75. Epub 2021 Jan 4.

Cancer Epidemiology Division, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Prostate cancer is a highly heritable disease with large disparities in incidence rates across ancestry populations. We conducted a multiancestry meta-analysis of prostate cancer genome-wide association studies (107,247 cases and 127,006 controls) and identified 86 new genetic risk variants independently associated with prostate cancer risk, bringing the total to 269 known risk variants. The top genetic risk score (GRS) decile was associated with odds ratios that ranged from 5.06 (95% confidence interval (CI), 4.84-5.29) for men of European ancestry to 3.74 (95% CI, 3.36-4.17) for men of African ancestry. Men of African ancestry were estimated to have a mean GRS that was 2.18-times higher (95% CI, 2.14-2.22), and men of East Asian ancestry 0.73-times lower (95% CI, 0.71-0.76), than men of European ancestry. These findings support the role of germline variation contributing to population differences in prostate cancer risk, with the GRS offering an approach for personalized risk prediction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-00748-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8148035PMC
January 2021

Histone H3.3 beyond cancer: Germline mutations in cause a previously unidentified neurodegenerative disorder in 46 patients.

Sci Adv 2020 Dec 2;6(49). Epub 2020 Dec 2.

Institut für Neurogenomik, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Munich, Germany.

Although somatic mutations in Histone 3.3 (H3.3) are well-studied drivers of oncogenesis, the role of germline mutations remains unreported. We analyze 46 patients bearing de novo germline mutations in histone 3 family 3A () or with progressive neurologic dysfunction and congenital anomalies without malignancies. Molecular modeling of all 37 variants demonstrated clear disruptions in interactions with DNA, other histones, and histone chaperone proteins. Patient histone posttranslational modifications (PTMs) analysis revealed notably aberrant local PTM patterns distinct from the somatic lysine mutations that cause global PTM dysregulation. RNA sequencing on patient cells demonstrated up-regulated gene expression related to mitosis and cell division, and cellular assays confirmed an increased proliferative capacity. A zebrafish model showed craniofacial anomalies and a defect in Foxd3-derived glia. These data suggest that the mechanism of germline mutations are distinct from cancer-associated somatic histone mutations but may converge on control of cell proliferation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abc9207DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7821880PMC
December 2020

Germline AGO2 mutations impair RNA interference and human neurological development.

Nat Commun 2020 11 16;11(1):5797. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Department of Genetics, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, ON, Canada.

ARGONAUTE-2 and associated miRNAs form the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), which targets mRNAs for translational silencing and degradation as part of the RNA interference pathway. Despite the essential nature of this process for cellular function, there is little information on the role of RISC components in human development and organ function. We identify 13 heterozygous mutations in AGO2 in 21 patients affected by disturbances in neurological development. Each of the identified single amino acid mutations result in impaired shRNA-mediated silencing. We observe either impaired RISC formation or increased binding of AGO2 to mRNA targets as mutation specific functional consequences. The latter is supported by decreased phosphorylation of a C-terminal serine cluster involved in mRNA target release, increased formation of dendritic P-bodies in neurons and global transcriptome alterations in patient-derived primary fibroblasts. Our data emphasize the importance of gene expression regulation through the dynamic AGO2-RNA association for human neuronal development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19572-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670403PMC
November 2020

The Variant C.349A>G Is Associated with Prostate Cancer Risk and Carriers Share a Common Ancestor.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Nov 4;12(11). Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.

The identification of recurrent founder variants in cancer predisposing genes may have important implications for implementing cost-effective targeted genetic screening strategies. In this study, we evaluated the prevalence and relative risk of the recurrent variant c.349A>G in a series of 462 Portuguese patients with early-onset and/or familial/hereditary prostate cancer (PrCa), as well as in the large multicentre PRACTICAL case-control study comprising 55,162 prostate cancer cases and 36,147 controls. Additionally, we investigated the potential shared ancestry of the carriers by performing identity-by-descent, haplotype and age estimation analyses using high-density SNP data from 70 variant carriers belonging to 11 different populations included in the PRACTICAL consortium. The missense variant c.349A>G was found significantly associated with an increased risk for PrCa (OR 1.9; 95% CI: 1.1-3.2). A shared haplotype flanking the variant in all carriers was identified, strongly suggesting a common founder of European origin. Additionally, using two independent statistical algorithms, implemented by DMLE+2.3 and ESTIAGE, we were able to estimate the age of the variant between 2300 and 3125 years. By extending the haplotype analysis to 14 additional carrier families, a shared core haplotype was revealed among all carriers matching the conserved region previously identified in the high-density SNP analysis. These findings are consistent with c.349A>G being a founder variant associated with increased PrCa risk, suggesting its potential usefulness for cost-effective targeted genetic screening in PrCa families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12113254DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7694218PMC
November 2020

Loss of MTX2 causes mandibuloacral dysplasia and links mitochondrial dysfunction to altered nuclear morphology.

Nat Commun 2020 09 11;11(1):4589. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

Aix Marseille Univ, INSERM, MMG, U1251, Marseille, France.

Mandibuloacral dysplasia syndromes are mainly due to recessive LMNA or ZMPSTE24 mutations, with cardinal nuclear morphological abnormalities and dysfunction. We report five homozygous null mutations in MTX2, encoding Metaxin-2 (MTX2), an outer mitochondrial membrane protein, in patients presenting with a severe laminopathy-like mandibuloacral dysplasia characterized by growth retardation, bone resorption, arterial calcification, renal glomerulosclerosis and severe hypertension. Loss of MTX2 in patients' primary fibroblasts leads to loss of Metaxin-1 (MTX1) and mitochondrial dysfunction, including network fragmentation and oxidative phosphorylation impairment. Furthermore, patients' fibroblasts are resistant to induced apoptosis, leading to increased cell senescence and mitophagy and reduced proliferation. Interestingly, secondary nuclear morphological defects are observed in both MTX2-mutant fibroblasts and mtx-2-depleted C. elegans. We thus report the identification of a severe premature aging syndrome revealing an unsuspected link between mitochondrial composition and function and nuclear morphology, establishing a pathophysiological link with premature aging laminopathies and likely explaining common clinical features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18146-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7486921PMC
September 2020

Mutations in genes encoding regulators of mRNA decapping and translation initiation: links to intellectual disability.

Biochem Soc Trans 2020 06;48(3):1199-1211

Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QW, U.K.

Intellectual disability (ID) affects at least 1% of the population, and typically presents in the first few years of life. ID is characterized by impairments in cognition and adaptive behavior and is often accompanied by further delays in language and motor skills, as seen in many neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD). Recent widespread high-throughput approaches that utilize whole-exome sequencing or whole-genome sequencing have allowed for a considerable increase in the identification of these pathogenic variants in monogenic forms of ID. Notwithstanding this progress, the molecular and cellular consequences of the identified mutations remain mostly unknown. This is particularly important as the associated protein dysfunctions are the prerequisite to the identification of targets for novel drugs of these rare disorders. Recent Next-Generation sequencing-based studies have further established that mutations in genes encoding proteins involved in RNA metabolism are a major cause of NDD. Here, we review recent studies linking germline mutations in genes encoding factors mediating mRNA decay and regulators of translation, namely DCPS, EDC3, DDX6 helicase and ID. These RNA-binding proteins have well-established roles in mRNA decapping and/or translational repression, and the mutations abrogate their ability to remove 5' caps from mRNA, diminish their interactions with cofactors and stabilize sub-sets of transcripts. Additional genes encoding RNA helicases with roles in translation including DDX3X and DHX30 have also been linked to NDD. Given the speed in the acquisition, analysis and sharing of sequencing data, and the importance of post-transcriptional regulation for brain development, we anticipate mutations in more such factors being identified and functionally characterized.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BST20200109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7329352PMC
June 2020

Phenotypic spectrum and transcriptomic profile associated with germline variants in TRAF7.

Genet Med 2020 07 7;22(7):1215-1226. Epub 2020 May 7.

Department of Medical Genetics, Lyon Hospices Civils, Lyon, France.

Purpose: Somatic variants in tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 7 (TRAF7) cause meningioma, while germline variants have recently been identified in seven patients with developmental delay and cardiac, facial, and digital anomalies. We aimed to define the clinical and mutational spectrum associated with TRAF7 germline variants in a large series of patients, and to determine the molecular effects of the variants through transcriptomic analysis of patient fibroblasts.

Methods: We performed exome, targeted capture, and Sanger sequencing of patients with undiagnosed developmental disorders, in multiple independent diagnostic or research centers. Phenotypic and mutational comparisons were facilitated through data exchange platforms. Whole-transcriptome sequencing was performed on RNA from patient- and control-derived fibroblasts.

Results: We identified heterozygous missense variants in TRAF7 as the cause of a developmental delay-malformation syndrome in 45 patients. Major features include a recognizable facial gestalt (characterized in particular by blepharophimosis), short neck, pectus carinatum, digital deviations, and patent ductus arteriosus. Almost all variants occur in the WD40 repeats and most are recurrent. Several differentially expressed genes were identified in patient fibroblasts.

Conclusion: We provide the first large-scale analysis of the clinical and mutational spectrum associated with the TRAF7 developmental syndrome, and we shed light on its molecular etiology through transcriptome studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-020-0792-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8093014PMC
July 2020

Nine newly identified individuals refine the phenotype associated with MYT1L mutations.

Am J Med Genet A 2020 05 17;182(5):1021-1031. Epub 2020 Feb 17.

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

Both point mutations and deletions of the MYT1L gene as well as microdeletions of chromosome band 2p25.3 including MYT1L are associated with intellectual disability, obesity, and behavioral problems. Thus, MYT1L is assumed to be the-at least mainly-causative gene in the 2p25.3 deletion syndrome. Here, we present comprehensive descriptions of nine novel individuals bearing MYT1L mutations; most of them single nucleotide variants (SNVs). This increases the number of known individuals with causative deletions or SNVs of MYT1L to 51. Since eight of the nine novel patients bear mutations affecting MYT1L only, the total number of such individuals now nearly equals the number of individuals with larger microdeletions affecting additional genes, allowing for a comprehensive phenotypic comparison of these two patient groups. For example, 55% of the individuals with mutations affecting MYT1L only were overweight or obese as compared to 86% of the individuals with larger microdeletions. A similar trend was observed regarding short stature with 5 versus 35%, respectively. However, these differences were nominally significant only after correction for multiple testing, further supporting the hypothesis that MYT1L haploinsufficiency is central to the 2p25.3 deletion phenotype. Most importantly, the large number of individuals with MYT1L mutations presented and reviewed here allowed for the delineation of a more comprehensive clinical picture. Seizures, postnatal short stature, macrocephaly, and microcephaly could be shown to be over-represented among individuals with MYT1L mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.61515DOI Listing
May 2020

Two novel cases further expand the phenotype of TOR1AIP1-associated nuclear envelopathies.

Hum Genet 2020 Apr 13;139(4):483-498. Epub 2020 Feb 13.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.

Biallelic variants in TOR1AIP1, encoding the integral nuclear membrane protein LAP1 (lamina-associated polypeptide 1) with two functional isoforms LAP1B and LAP1C, have initially been linked to muscular dystrophies with variable cardiac and neurological impairment. Furthermore, a recurrent homozygous nonsense alteration, resulting in loss of both LAP1 isoforms, was identified in seven likely related individuals affected by multisystem anomalies with progeroid-like appearance and lethality within the 1st decade of life. Here, we have identified compound heterozygosity in TOR1AIP1 affecting both LAP1 isoforms in two unrelated individuals affected by congenital bilateral hearing loss, ventricular septal defect, bilateral cataracts, mild to moderate developmental delay, microcephaly, mandibular hypoplasia, short stature, progressive muscular atrophy, joint contractures and severe chronic heart failure, with much longer survival. Cellular characterization of primary fibroblasts of one affected individual revealed absence of both LAP1B and LAP1C, constitutively low lamin A/C levels, aberrant nuclear morphology including nuclear cytoplasmic channels, and premature senescence, comparable to findings in other progeroid forms of nuclear envelopathies. We additionally observed an abnormal activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2). Ectopic expression of wild-type TOR1AIP1 mitigated these cellular phenotypes, providing further evidence for the causal role of identified genetic variants. Altogether, we thus further expand the TOR1AIP1-associated phenotype by identifying individuals with biallelic loss-of-function variants who survived beyond the 1st decade of life and reveal novel molecular consequences underlying the TOR1AIP1-associated disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-019-02105-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7078146PMC
April 2020

MN1 C-terminal truncation syndrome is a novel neurodevelopmental and craniofacial disorder with partial rhombencephalosynapsis.

Brain 2020 01;143(1):55-68

GeneDx, Gaithersburg, MD, USA.

MN1 encodes a transcriptional co-regulator without homology to other proteins, previously implicated in acute myeloid leukaemia and development of the palate. Large deletions encompassing MN1 have been reported in individuals with variable neurodevelopmental anomalies and non-specific facial features. We identified a cluster of de novo truncating mutations in MN1 in a cohort of 23 individuals with strikingly similar dysmorphic facial features, especially midface hypoplasia, and intellectual disability with severe expressive language delay. Imaging revealed an atypical form of rhombencephalosynapsis, a distinctive brain malformation characterized by partial or complete loss of the cerebellar vermis with fusion of the cerebellar hemispheres, in 8/10 individuals. Rhombencephalosynapsis has no previously known definitive genetic or environmental causes. Other frequent features included perisylvian polymicrogyria, abnormal posterior clinoid processes and persistent trigeminal artery. MN1 is encoded by only two exons. All mutations, including the recurrent variant p.Arg1295* observed in 8/21 probands, fall in the terminal exon or the extreme 3' region of exon 1, and are therefore predicted to result in escape from nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. This was confirmed in fibroblasts from three individuals. We propose that the condition described here, MN1 C-terminal truncation (MCTT) syndrome, is not due to MN1 haploinsufficiency but rather is the result of dominantly acting C-terminally truncated MN1 protein. Our data show that MN1 plays a critical role in human craniofacial and brain development, and opens the door to understanding the biological mechanisms underlying rhombencephalosynapsis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awz379DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7962909PMC
January 2020

Hereditary Syndromes with Signs of Premature Aging.

Dtsch Arztebl Int 2019 07;116(29-30):489-496

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg; Martin Zeitz Center for Rare Diseases, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg.

Background: Segmental progeroid syndromes (SPS) are rare hereditary diseases in which the affected individuals show signs of premature aging in more than one organ or type of tissue. We review the clinical and genetic features of some of these syndromes and discuss the extent to which their study affords a complementary opportunity to study aging processes in general.

Methods: This review is based on publications retrieved by a selective search in PubMed.

Results: Segmental progeroid syndromes are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of hereditary diseases. They can be categorized, for example, by the age of onset of manifestations (congenital vs. infantile vs. juvenile/adult forms). They are diagnosed on clinical grounds supplemented by genetic testing on the basis of next-generation sequencing, which is of central importance in view of the marked heterogeneity and complexity of their overlapping clinical features. The elucidation of the genetic and molecular causes of these diseases can lead to causally directed treatment, as shown by the initial clinical trials in Hutchinson- Gilford progeria syndrome. The molecular features of SPS are identical in many ways to those of "physiological" aging. Thus, studying the molecular mechanisms of SPS may be helpful for the development of molecularly defined treatment approaches for age-associated diseases in general.

Conclusion: Segmental progeroid syndromes are a complex group of diseases with overlapping clinical features. Current research efforts focus on the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of these diseases, most of which are very rare. This should enable the development of treatments that might be applicable to general processes of aging as well.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2019.0489DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6726857PMC
July 2019

SPRTN protease and checkpoint kinase 1 cross-activation loop safeguards DNA replication.

Nat Commun 2019 07 17;10(1):3142. Epub 2019 Jul 17.

Cancer Research UK and Medical Research Council Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK.

The SPRTN metalloprotease is essential for DNA-protein crosslink (DPC) repair and DNA replication in vertebrate cells. Cells deficient in SPRTN protease exhibit DPC-induced replication stress and genome instability, manifesting as premature ageing and liver cancer. Here, we provide a body of evidence suggesting that SPRTN activates the ATR-CHK1 phosphorylation signalling cascade during physiological DNA replication by proteolysis-dependent eviction of CHK1 from replicative chromatin. During this process, SPRTN proteolyses the C-terminal/inhibitory part of CHK1, liberating N-terminal CHK1 kinase active fragments. Simultaneously, CHK1 full length and its N-terminal fragments phosphorylate SPRTN at the C-terminal regulatory domain, which stimulates SPRTN recruitment to chromatin to promote unperturbed DNA replication fork progression and DPC repair. Our data suggest that a SPRTN-CHK1 cross-activation loop plays a part in DNA replication and protection from DNA replication stress. Finally, our results with purified components of this pathway further support the proposed model of a SPRTN-CHK1 cross-activation loop.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11095-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6637133PMC
July 2019

Paralog Studies Augment Gene Discovery: DDX and DHX Genes.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 08 27;105(2):302-316. Epub 2019 Jun 27.

Division of Nephrology, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Members of a paralogous gene family in which variation in one gene is known to cause disease are eight times more likely to also be associated with human disease. Recent studies have elucidated DHX30 and DDX3X as genes for which pathogenic variant alleles are involved in neurodevelopmental disorders. We hypothesized that variants in paralogous genes encoding members of the DExD/H-box RNA helicase superfamily might also underlie developmental delay and/or intellectual disability (DD and/or ID) disease phenotypes. Here we describe 15 unrelated individuals who have DD and/or ID, central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction, vertebral anomalies, and dysmorphic features and were found to have probably damaging variants in DExD/H-box RNA helicase genes. In addition, these individuals exhibit a variety of other tissue and organ system involvement including ocular, outer ear, hearing, cardiac, and kidney tissues. Five individuals with homozygous (one), compound-heterozygous (two), or de novo (two) missense variants in DHX37 were identified by exome sequencing. We identified ten total individuals with missense variants in three other DDX/DHX paralogs: DHX16 (four individuals), DDX54 (three individuals), and DHX34 (three individuals). Most identified variants are rare, predicted to be damaging, and occur at conserved amino acid residues. Taken together, these 15 individuals implicate the DExD/H-box helicases in both dominantly and recessively inherited neurodevelopmental phenotypes and highlight the potential for more than one disease mechanism underlying these disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.06.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6698803PMC
August 2019

Fatal Myelotoxicity Following Palliative Chemotherapy With Cisplatin and Gemcitabine in a Patient With Stage IV Cholangiocarcinoma Linked to Post Mortem Diagnosis of Fanconi Anemia.

Front Oncol 2019 22;9:420. Epub 2019 May 22.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Unrecognized genome instability syndromes can potentially impede the rational treatment of cancer in rare patients. Identification of cancer patients with a hereditary condition is a compelling necessity for oncologists, giving varying hypersensitivities to various chemotherapeutic agents or radiation, depending on the underlying genetic cause. Omission of genetic testing in the setting of an overlooked hereditary syndrome may lead to unexpected and unbearable toxicity from oncological standard approaches. We present a case of a 33-year-old man with an early-onset stage IV intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, who experienced unusual bone marrow failure and neutropenic fever syndrome as a consequence of palliative chemotherapy containing cisplatin and gemcitabine, leading to a fatal outcome on day 25 of his first chemotherapeutic cycle. The constellation of bone marrow failure after exposure to the platinum-based agent cisplatin, the presence of an early-onset solid malignancy and the critical appraisal of further phenotypical features raised suspicion of a hereditary genome instability syndrome. Whole-exome sequencing from buccal swab DNA enabled the post mortem diagnosis of Fanconi anemia, most likely linked to the fatal outcome due to utilization of the DNA crosslinking agent cisplatin. The patient's phenotype was exceptional, as he never displayed significant hematologic abnormalities, which is the hallmark of Fanconi anemia. As such, this case stresses the importance to at least question the possibility of a hereditary basis in cases of relatively early-onset malignancy before defining an oncological treatment strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2019.00420DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6540739PMC
May 2019

Exome Sequencing in Children.

Dtsch Arztebl Int 2019 03;116(12):197-204

*Joint last authors; Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf; Department of Pediatrics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf; Institute of Human Genetics, Klinikum Rechts der Isar, TUM, Munich; Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics, University Hospital Tübingen; Institute of Human Genetics, Helmholtz Center Munich; Undiagnosed Disease Program at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UDP-UKE).

Background: In developed countries, global developmental disorders are encounter- ed in approximately 1% of all children. The causes are manifold, and no exogenous cause can be identified in about half of the affected children. The parallel investi- gation of the coding sequences of all genes of the affected individual (whole exome sequencing, WES) has developed into a successful diagnostic method for identify- ing the cause of the problem. It is not yet clear, however, when WES should best be used in routine clinical practice in order to exploit the potential of this method to the fullest.

Methods: In an interdisciplinary study, we carried out standardized clinical pheno- typing and a systematic genetic analysis (WES of the index patient and his or her parents, so-called trio WES) in 50 children with developmental disturbances of unclear etiology and with nonspecific neurological manifestations.

Results: In 21 children (42% of the collective), we were able to identify the cause of the disorder by demonstrating a mutation in a gene known to be associated with disease. Three of these children subsequently underwent specific treatment. In 22 other children (44%), we detected possibly etiological changes in candidate genes not currently known to be associated with human disease.

Conclusion: Our detection rate of at least 42% is high in comparison with the results obtained in other studies from Germany and other countries to date and implies that WES can be used to good effect as a differential diagnostic tool in pediatric neurol- ogy. WES should be carried out in both the index patient and his or her parents (trio- WES) and accompanied by close interdisciplinary collaboration of human geneti- cists and pediatricians, by comprehensive and targeted phenotyping (also after the diagnosis is established), and by the meticulous evaluation of all gene variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2019.0197DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6514384PMC
March 2019

The Discovery of a LEMD2-Associated Nuclear Envelopathy with Early Progeroid Appearance Suggests Advanced Applications for AI-Driven Facial Phenotyping.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 04 21;104(4):749-757. Epub 2019 Mar 21.

Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Cologne, 50931, Germany; Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, 50931, Germany. Electronic address:

Over a relatively short period of time, the clinical geneticist's "toolbox" has been expanded by machine-learning algorithms for image analysis, which can be applied to the task of syndrome identification on the basis of facial photographs, but these technologies harbor potential beyond the recognition of established phenotypes. Here, we comprehensively characterized two individuals with a hitherto unknown genetic disorder caused by the same de novo mutation in LEMD2 (c.1436C>T;p.Ser479Phe), the gene which encodes the nuclear envelope protein LEM domain-containing protein 2 (LEMD2). Despite different ages and ethnic backgrounds, both individuals share a progeria-like facial phenotype and a distinct combination of physical and neurologic anomalies, such as growth retardation; hypoplastic jaws crowded with multiple supernumerary, yet unerupted, teeth; and cerebellar intention tremor. Immunofluorescence analyses of patient fibroblasts revealed mutation-induced disturbance of nuclear architecture, recapitulating previously published data in LEMD2-deficient cell lines, and additional experiments suggested mislocalization of mutant LEMD2 protein within the nuclear lamina. Computational analysis of facial features with two different deep neural networks showed phenotypic proximity to other nuclear envelopathies. One of the algorithms, when trained to recognize syndromic similarity (rather than specific syndromes) in an unsupervised approach, clustered both individuals closely together, providing hypothesis-free hints for a common genetic etiology. We show that a recurrent de novo mutation in LEMD2 causes a nuclear envelopathy whose prognosis in adolescence is relatively good in comparison to that of classical Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, and we suggest that the application of artificial intelligence to the analysis of patient images can facilitate the discovery of new genetic disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.02.021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451726PMC
April 2019

Shared heritability and functional enrichment across six solid cancers.

Nat Commun 2019 01 25;10(1):431. Epub 2019 Jan 25.

Human Cancer Genetics Programme, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Calle de Melchor Fernández Almagro, 3, 28029, Madrid, Spain.

Quantifying the genetic correlation between cancers can provide important insights into the mechanisms driving cancer etiology. Using genome-wide association study summary statistics across six cancer types based on a total of 296,215 cases and 301,319 controls of European ancestry, here we estimate the pair-wise genetic correlations between breast, colorectal, head/neck, lung, ovary and prostate cancer, and between cancers and 38 other diseases. We observed statistically significant genetic correlations between lung and head/neck cancer (r = 0.57, p = 4.6 × 10), breast and ovarian cancer (r = 0.24, p = 7 × 10), breast and lung cancer (r = 0.18, p =1.5 × 10) and breast and colorectal cancer (r = 0.15, p = 1.1 × 10). We also found that multiple cancers are genetically correlated with non-cancer traits including smoking, psychiatric diseases and metabolic characteristics. Functional enrichment analysis revealed a significant excess contribution of conserved and regulatory regions to cancer heritability. Our comprehensive analysis of cross-cancer heritability suggests that solid tumors arising across tissues share in part a common germline genetic basis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-08054-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6347624PMC
January 2019

Association of Inherited Pathogenic Variants in Checkpoint Kinase 2 (CHEK2) With Susceptibility to Testicular Germ Cell Tumors.

JAMA Oncol 2019 Apr;5(4):514-522

Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Importance: Approximately 50% of the risk for the development of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) is estimated to be heritable, but no mendelian TGCT predisposition genes have yet been identified. It is hypothesized that inherited pathogenic DNA repair gene (DRG) alterations may drive susceptibility to TGCTs.

Objective: To systematically evaluate the enrichment of germline pathogenic variants in the mendelian cancer predisposition DRGs in patients with TGCTs vs healthy controls.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A case-control enrichment analysis was performed from January 2016 to May 2018 to screen for 48 DRGs in 205 unselected men with TGCT and 27 173 ancestry-matched cancer-free individuals from the Exome Aggregation Consortium cohort in the discovery stage. Significant findings were selectively replicated in independent cohorts of 448 unselected men with TGCTs and 442 population-matched controls, as well as 231 high-risk men with TGCTs and 3090 ancestry-matched controls. Statistical analysis took place from January to May 2018.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Gene-level enrichment analysis of germline pathogenic variants in individuals with TGCTs relative to cancer-free controls.

Results: Among 205 unselected men with TGCTs (mean [SD] age, 33.04 [9.67] years), 22 pathogenic germline DRG variants, one-third of which were in CHEK2 (OMIM 604373), were identified in 20 men (9.8%; 95% CI, 6.1%-14.7%). Unselected men with TGCTs were approximately 4 times more likely to carry germline loss-of-function CHEK2 variants compared with cancer-free individuals from the Exome Aggregation Consortium cohort (odds ratio [OR], 3.87; 95% CI, 1.65-8.86; nominal P = .006; q = 0.018). Similar enrichment was also seen in an independent cohort of 448 unselected Croatian men with TGCTs (mean [SD] age, 31.98 [8.11] years) vs 442 unselected Croatian men without TGCTs (at least 50 years of age at time of sample collection) (OR, >1.4; P = .03) and 231 high-risk men with TGCTs (mean [SD] age, 31.54 [9.24] years) vs 3090 men (all older than 50 years) from the Penn Medicine Biobank (OR, 6.30; 95% CI, 2.34-17.31; P = .001). The low-penetrance CHEK2 variant (p.Ile157Thr) was found to be a Croatian founder TGCT risk variant (OR, 3.93; 95% CI, 1.53-9.95; P = .002). Individuals with the pathogenic CHEK2 loss-of-function variants developed TGCTs 6 years earlier than individuals with CHEK2 wild-type alleles (5.95 years; 95% CI, 1.48-10.42; P = .009).

Conclusions And Relevance: This multicenter case-control analysis of men with or without TGCTs provides evidence for CHEK2 as a novel moderate-penetrance TGCT susceptibility gene, with potential clinical utility. In addition to highlighting DNA-repair deficiency as a potential mechanism driving TGCT susceptibility, this analysis also provides new avenues to explore management strategies and biological investigations for high-risk individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.6477DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459214PMC
April 2019
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