Publications by authors named "Fabiola Ceroni"

10 Publications

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An increased burden of rare exonic variants in NRXN1 microdeletion carriers is likely to enhance the penetrance for autism spectrum disorder.

J Cell Mol Med 2021 Jan 21. Epub 2021 Jan 21.

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by a complex polygenic background, but with the unique feature of a subset of cases (~15%-30%) presenting a rare large-effect variant. However, clinical interpretation in these cases is often complicated by incomplete penetrance, variable expressivity and different neurodevelopmental trajectories. NRXN1 intragenic deletions represent the prototype of such ASD-associated susceptibility variants. From chromosomal microarrays analysis of 104 ASD individuals, we identified an inherited NRXN1 deletion in a trio family. We carried out whole-exome sequencing and deep sequencing of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in this family, to evaluate the burden of rare variants which may contribute to the phenotypic outcome in NRXN1 deletion carriers. We identified an increased burden of exonic rare variants in the ASD child compared to the unaffected NRXN1 deletion-transmitting mother, which remains significant if we restrict the analysis to potentially deleterious rare variants only (P = 6.07 × 10 ). We also detected significant interaction enrichment among genes with damaging variants in the proband, suggesting that additional rare variants in interacting genes collectively contribute to cross the liability threshold for ASD. Finally, the proband's mtDNA presented five low-level heteroplasmic mtDNA variants that were absent in the mother, and two maternally inherited variants with increased heteroplasmic load. This study underlines the importance of a comprehensive assessment of the genomic background in carriers of large-effect variants, as penetrance modulation by additional interacting rare variants to might represent a widespread mechanism in neurodevelopmental disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcmm.16161DOI Listing
January 2021

Biallelic variants in the small optic lobe calpain CAPN15 are associated with congenital eye anomalies, deafness and other neurodevelopmental deficits.

Hum Mol Genet 2020 Nov;29(18):3054-3063

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

Microphthalmia, coloboma and cataract are part of a spectrum of developmental eye disorders in humans affecting ~12 per 100 000 live births. Currently, variants in over 100 genes are known to underlie these conditions. However, at least 40% of affected individuals remain without a clinical genetic diagnosis, suggesting variants in additional genes may be responsible. Calpain 15 (CAPN15) is an intracellular cysteine protease belonging to the non-classical small optic lobe (SOL) family of calpains, an important class of developmental proteins, as yet uncharacterized in vertebrates. We identified five individuals with microphthalmia and/or coloboma from four independent families carrying homozygous or compound heterozygous predicted damaging variants in CAPN15. Several individuals had additional phenotypes including growth deficits, developmental delay and hearing loss. We generated Capn15 knockout mice that exhibited similar severe developmental eye defects, including anophthalmia, microphthalmia and cataract, and diminished growth. We demonstrate widespread Capn15 expression throughout the brain and central nervous system, strongest during early development, and decreasing postnatally. Together, these findings demonstrate a critical role of CAPN15 in vertebrate developmental eye disorders, and may signify a new developmental pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddaa198DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7645705PMC
November 2020

De Novo Missense Variants in FBXW11 Cause Diverse Developmental Phenotypes Including Brain, Eye, and Digit Anomalies.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 09 8;105(3):640-657. Epub 2019 Aug 8.

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK; West Midlands Regional Clinical Genetics Service and Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham Women's and Children's National Health Service Foundation Trust, Birmingham, B15 2TG, UK. Electronic address:

The identification of genetic variants implicated in human developmental disorders has been revolutionized by second-generation sequencing combined with international pooling of cases. Here, we describe seven individuals who have diverse yet overlapping developmental anomalies, and who all have de novo missense FBXW11 variants identified by whole exome or whole genome sequencing and not reported in the gnomAD database. Their phenotypes include striking neurodevelopmental, digital, jaw, and eye anomalies, and in one individual, features resembling Noonan syndrome, a condition caused by dysregulated RAS signaling. FBXW11 encodes an F-box protein, part of the Skp1-cullin-F-box (SCF) ubiquitin ligase complex, involved in ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation and thus fundamental to many protein regulatory processes. FBXW11 targets include β-catenin and GLI transcription factors, key mediators of Wnt and Hh signaling, respectively, critical to digital, neurological, and eye development. Structural analyses indicate affected residues cluster at the surface of the loops of the substrate-binding domain of FBXW11, and the variants are predicted to destabilize the protein and/or its interactions. In situ hybridization studies on human and zebrafish embryonic tissues demonstrate FBXW11 is expressed in the developing eye, brain, mandibular processes, and limb buds or pectoral fins. Knockdown of the zebrafish FBXW11 orthologs fbxw11a and fbxw11b resulted in embryos with smaller, misshapen, and underdeveloped eyes and abnormal jaw and pectoral fin development. Our findings support the role of FBXW11 in multiple developmental processes, including those involving the brain, eye, digits, and jaw.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.07.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6731360PMC
September 2019

New GJA8 variants and phenotypes highlight its critical role in a broad spectrum of eye anomalies.

Hum Genet 2019 Sep 20;138(8-9):1027-1042. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK.

GJA8 encodes connexin 50 (Cx50), a transmembrane protein involved in the formation of lens gap junctions. GJA8 mutations have been linked to early onset cataracts in humans and animal models. In mice, missense mutations and homozygous Gja8 deletions lead to smaller lenses and microphthalmia in addition to cataract, suggesting that Gja8 may play a role in both lens development and ocular growth. Following screening of GJA8 in a cohort of 426 individuals with severe congenital eye anomalies, primarily anophthalmia, microphthalmia and coloboma, we identified four known [p.(Thr39Arg), p.(Trp45Leu), p.(Asp51Asn), and p.(Gly94Arg)] and two novel [p.(Phe70Leu) and p.(Val97Gly)] likely pathogenic variants in seven families. Five of these co-segregated with cataracts and microphthalmia, whereas the variant p.(Gly94Arg) was identified in an individual with congenital aphakia, sclerocornea, microphthalmia and coloboma. Four missense variants of unknown or unlikely clinical significance were also identified. Furthermore, the screening of GJA8 structural variants in a subgroup of 188 individuals identified heterozygous 1q21 microdeletions in five families with coloboma and other ocular and/or extraocular findings. However, the exact genotype-phenotype correlation of these structural variants remains to be established. Our data expand the spectrum of GJA8 variants and associated phenotypes, confirming the importance of this gene in early eye development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-018-1875-2DOI Listing
September 2019

Multidisciplinary investigation links backward-speech trait and working memory through genetic mutation.

Sci Rep 2016 Feb 3;6:20369. Epub 2016 Feb 3.

Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. OX3 7BN.

Case studies of unusual traits can provide unique snapshots of the effects of modified systems. In this study, we report on an individual from a Serbian family with the ability to rapidly, accurately and voluntarily speak backwards. We consider psychological, neural and genetic correlates of this trait to identify specific relevant neural mechanisms and new molecular pathways for working memory and speech-related tasks. EEG data suggest that the effect of word reversal precedes semantic integration of visually presented backward-words, and that event-related potentials above the frontal lobe are affected by both word reversal and the maintenance of backward-words in working memory. fMRI revealed that the left fusiform gyrus may facilitate the production of backward-speech. Exome sequencing identified three novel coding variants of potential significance in the RIC3, RIPK1 and ZBED5 genes. Taken together, our data suggest that, in this individual, the ability to speak backwards is afforded by an extraordinary working memory capacity. We hypothesise that this is served by cholinergic projections from the basal forebrain to the frontal cortex and supported by visual semantic loops within the left fusiform gyrus and that these neural processes may be mediated by a genetic mutation in RIC3; a chaperone for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep20369DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4738289PMC
February 2016

Genome-wide analysis identifies a role for common copy number variants in specific language impairment.

Eur J Hum Genet 2015 Oct 14;23(10):1370-7. Epub 2015 Jan 14.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

An exploratory genome-wide copy number variant (CNV) study was performed in 127 independent cases with specific language impairment (SLI), their first-degree relatives (385 individuals) and 269 population controls. Language-impaired cases showed an increased CNV burden in terms of the average number of events (11.28 vs 10.01, empirical P=0.003), the total length of CNVs (717 vs 513 Kb, empirical P=0.0001), the average CNV size (63.75 vs 51.6 Kb, empirical P=0.0005) and the number of genes spanned (14.29 vs 10.34, empirical P=0.0007) when compared with population controls, suggesting that CNVs may contribute to SLI risk. A similar trend was observed in first-degree relatives regardless of affection status. The increased burden found in our study was not driven by large or de novo events, which have been described as causative in other neurodevelopmental disorders. Nevertheless, de novo CNVs might be important on a case-by-case basis, as indicated by identification of events affecting relevant genes, such as ACTR2 and CSNK1A1, and small events within known micro-deletion/-duplication syndrome regions, such as chr8p23.1. Pathway analysis of the genes present within the CNVs of the independent cases identified significant overrepresentation of acetylcholine binding, cyclic-nucleotide phosphodiesterase activity and MHC proteins as compared with controls. Taken together, our data suggest that the majority of the risk conferred by CNVs in SLI is via common, inherited events within a 'common disorder-common variant' model. Therefore the risk conferred by CNVs will depend upon the combination of events inherited (both CNVs and SNPs), the genetic background of the individual and the environmental factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2014.296DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4592089PMC
October 2015

A CTNNA3 compound heterozygous deletion implicates a role for αT-catenin in susceptibility to autism spectrum disorder.

J Neurodev Disord 2014 10;6(1):17. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, via Selmi 3, Bologna 40126, Italy.

Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heritable, neurodevelopmental condition showing extreme genetic heterogeneity. While it is well established that rare genetic variation, both de novo and inherited, plays an important role in ASD risk, recent studies also support a rare recessive contribution.

Methods: We identified a compound heterozygous deletion intersecting the CTNNA3 gene, encoding αT-catenin, in a proband with ASD and moderate intellectual disability. The deletion breakpoints were mapped at base-pair resolution, and segregation analysis was performed. We compared the frequency of CTNNA3 exonic deletions in 2,147 ASD cases from the Autism Genome Project (AGP) study versus the frequency in 6,639 controls. Western blot analysis was performed to get a quantitative characterisation of Ctnna3 expression during early brain development in mouse.

Results: The CTNNA3 compound heterozygous deletion includes a coding exon, leading to a putative frameshift and premature stop codon. Segregation analysis in the family showed that the unaffected sister is heterozygote for the deletion, having only inherited the paternal deletion. While the frequency of CTNNA3 exonic deletions is not significantly different between ASD cases and controls, no homozygous or compound heterozygous exonic deletions were found in a sample of over 6,000 controls. Expression analysis of Ctnna3 in the mouse cortex and hippocampus (P0-P90) provided support for its role in the early stage of brain development.

Conclusion: The finding of a rare compound heterozygous CTNNA3 exonic deletion segregating with ASD, the absence of CTNNA3 homozygous exonic deletions in controls and the high expression of Ctnna3 in both brain areas analysed implicate CTNNA3 in ASD susceptibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1866-1955-6-17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4104741PMC
July 2014

A deletion involving CD38 and BST1 results in a fusion transcript in a patient with autism and asthma.

Autism Res 2014 Apr 13;7(2):254-63. Epub 2014 Mar 13.

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

CD38 encodes a ligand in the oxytocin signaling pathway. Some single nucleotide polymorphisms in this gene have been associated with low serum oxytocin levels in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients. Oxytocin disruption has been hypothesized to account for features of ASD, including impaired communication and social behavior, based on animal studies. Recent human studies have shown administration of oxytocin improving emotion recognition, promoting social behavior, and improving auditory processing of social stimuli in ASD patients. In addition to its role in oxytocin signaling, CD38 is involved in the regulation of calcium concentration in airway smooth muscle with impairment of CD38 being implicated in airway diseases like asthma. While a number of studies have implicated rare chromosomal deletions and duplications in helping determine genetic risk for autism, there are to our knowledge no reports describing rearrangements involving CD38 or deletions in patients with ASD. Here, we present two sisters diagnosed with autism and with features of regression-previously acquired speech lost in the second year of life. The younger sister, who also had asthma, inherited a maternal deletion of 4p15.32 that results in a BST1-CD38 fusion transcript. Their mother's deletion was mosaic and she was not affected. Although further work is required to assess functional consequences of the fusion transcript, we hypothesize that the proband's deletion may have served as a risk factor for autism that, when combined with other susceptibility variants, resulted in a more severe presentation than her sister.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.1365DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4309371PMC
April 2014

Homozygous microdeletion of exon 5 in ZNF277 in a girl with specific language impairment.

Eur J Hum Genet 2014 Oct 12;22(10):1165-71. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Specific language impairment (SLI), an unexpected failure to develop appropriate language skills despite adequate non-verbal intelligence, is a heterogeneous multifactorial disorder with a complex genetic basis. We identified a homozygous microdeletion of 21,379 bp in the ZNF277 gene (NM_021994.2), encompassing exon 5, in an individual with severe receptive and expressive language impairment. The microdeletion was not found in the proband's affected sister or her brother who had mild language impairment. However, it was inherited from both parents, each of whom carries a heterozygous microdeletion and has a history of language problems. The microdeletion falls within the AUTS1 locus, a region linked to autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs). Moreover, ZNF277 is adjacent to the DOCK4 and IMMP2L genes, which have been implicated in ASD. We screened for the presence of ZNF277 microdeletions in cohorts of children with SLI or ASD and panels of control subjects. ZNF277 microdeletions were at an increased allelic frequency in SLI probands (1.1%) compared with both ASD family members (0.3%) and independent controls (0.4%). We performed quantitative RT-PCR analyses of the expression of IMMP2L, DOCK4 and ZNF277 in individuals carrying either an IMMP2L_DOCK4 microdeletion or a ZNF277 microdeletion. Although ZNF277 microdeletions reduce the expression of ZNF277, they do not alter the levels of DOCK4 or IMMP2L transcripts. Conversely, IMMP2L_DOCK4 microdeletions do not affect the expression levels of ZNF277. We postulate that ZNF277 microdeletions may contribute to the risk of language impairments in a manner that is independent of the autism risk loci previously described in this region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2014.4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4169542PMC
October 2014