Publications by authors named "Lauren Brick"

12 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

A recurrent de novo variant is associated with hypomyelinating leukodystrophy.

Cold Spring Harb Mol Case Stud 2020 06 12;6(3). Epub 2020 Jun 12.

Research Unit for Molecular Medicine, Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital, 8200, Aarhus N, Denmark.

Standardization of the use of next-generation sequencing for the diagnosis of rare neurological disorders has made it possible to detect potential disease-causing genetic variations, including de novo variants. However, the lack of a clear pathogenic relevance of gene variants poses a critical limitation for translating this genetic information into clinical practice, increasing the necessity to perform functional assays. Genetic screening is currently recommended in the guidelines for diagnosis of hypomyelinating leukodystrophies (HLDs). HLDs represent a group of rare heterogeneous disorders that interfere with the myelination of the neurons in the central nervous system. One of the HLD-related genes is , encoding the mitochondrial chaperone heat shock protein 60 (HSP60), which functions as folding machinery for the mitochondrial proteins imported into the mitochondrial matrix space. Disease-causing variants have been associated with an autosomal recessive form of fatal hypomyelinating leukodystrophy (HLD4, MitCHAP60 disease; MIM #612233) and an autosomal dominant form of spastic paraplegia, type 13 (SPG13; MIM #605280). In 2018, a de novo variant was reported in a patient with HLD. Here, we present another case carrying the same heterozygous de novo variation in the gene (c.139T > G, p.Leu47Val) associated with an HLD phenotype. Our molecular studies show that the variant HSP60 protein is stably present in the patient's fibroblasts, and functional assays demonstrate that the variant protein lacks in vivo function, thus confirming its disease association. We conclude that de novo variations of the gene should be considered as potentially disease-causing in the diagnosis and pathogenesis of the HLDs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/mcs.a004879DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7304351PMC
June 2020

Evaluation of DNA Methylation Episignatures for Diagnosis and Phenotype Correlations in 42 Mendelian Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 03 27;106(3):356-370. Epub 2020 Feb 27.

Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Molecular Diagnostics Division, London Health Sciences Centre, London, ON N6A5W9, Canada; Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Western University, London, ON N6A3K7, Canada. Electronic address:

Genetic syndromes frequently present with overlapping clinical features and inconclusive or ambiguous genetic findings which can confound accurate diagnosis and clinical management. An expanding number of genetic syndromes have been shown to have unique genomic DNA methylation patterns (called "episignatures"). Peripheral blood episignatures can be used for diagnostic testing as well as for the interpretation of ambiguous genetic test results. We present here an approach to episignature mapping in 42 genetic syndromes, which has allowed the identification of 34 robust disease-specific episignatures. We examine emerging patterns of overlap, as well as similarities and hierarchical relationships across these episignatures, to highlight their key features as they are related to genetic heterogeneity, dosage effect, unaffected carrier status, and incomplete penetrance. We demonstrate the necessity of multiclass modeling for accurate genetic variant classification and show how disease classification using a single episignature at a time can sometimes lead to classification errors in closely related episignatures. We demonstrate the utility of this tool in resolving ambiguous clinical cases and identification of previously undiagnosed cases through mass screening of a large cohort of subjects with developmental delays and congenital anomalies. This study more than doubles the number of published syndromes with DNA methylation episignatures and, most significantly, opens new avenues for accurate diagnosis and clinical assessment in individuals affected by these disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.01.019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7058829PMC
March 2020

Defining the clinical phenotype of Saul-Wilson syndrome.

Genet Med 2020 05 17;22(5):857-866. Epub 2020 Jan 17.

Division of Orthogenetics, Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE, USA.

Purpose: Four patients with Saul-Wilson syndrome were reported between 1982 and 1994, but no additional individuals were described until 2018, when the molecular etiology of the disease was elucidated. Hence, the clinical phenotype of the disease remains poorly defined. We address this shortcoming by providing a detailed characterization of its phenotype.

Methods: Retrospective chart reviews were performed and primary radiographs assessed for all 14 individuals. Four individuals underwent detailed ophthalmologic examination by the same physician. Two individuals underwent gynecologic evaluation. Z-scores for height, weight, head circumference and body mass index were calculated at different ages.

Results: All patients exhibited short stature, with sharp decline from the mean within the first months of life, and a final height Z-score between -4 and -8.5 standard deviations. The facial and radiographic features evolved over time. Intermittent neutropenia was frequently observed. Novel findings included elevation of liver transaminases, skeletal fragility, rod-cone dystrophy, and cystic macular changes.

Conclusions: Saul-Wilson syndrome presents a remarkably uniform phenotype, and the comprehensive description of our cohort allows for improved understanding of the long-term morbidity of the condition, establishment of follow-up recommendations for affected individuals, and documentation of the natural history into adulthood for comparison with treated patients, when therapeutics become available.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-019-0737-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7205587PMC
May 2020

Loss of UGP2 in brain leads to a severe epileptic encephalopathy, emphasizing that bi-allelic isoform-specific start-loss mutations of essential genes can cause genetic diseases.

Acta Neuropathol 2020 03 9;139(3):415-442. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

Department of Clinical Genetics, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Developmental and/or epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are a group of devastating genetic disorders, resulting in early-onset, therapy-resistant seizures and developmental delay. Here we report on 22 individuals from 15 families presenting with a severe form of intractable epilepsy, severe developmental delay, progressive microcephaly, visual disturbance and similar minor dysmorphisms. Whole exome sequencing identified a recurrent, homozygous variant (chr2:64083454A > G) in the essential UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (UGP2) gene in all probands. This rare variant results in a tolerable Met12Val missense change of the longer UGP2 protein isoform but causes a disruption of the start codon of the shorter isoform, which is predominant in brain. We show that the absence of the shorter isoform leads to a reduction of functional UGP2 enzyme in neural stem cells, leading to altered glycogen metabolism, upregulated unfolded protein response and premature neuronal differentiation, as modeled during pluripotent stem cell differentiation in vitro. In contrast, the complete lack of all UGP2 isoforms leads to differentiation defects in multiple lineages in human cells. Reduced expression of Ugp2a/Ugp2b in vivo in zebrafish mimics visual disturbance and mutant animals show a behavioral phenotype. Our study identifies a recurrent start codon mutation in UGP2 as a cause of a novel autosomal recessive DEE syndrome. Importantly, it also shows that isoform-specific start-loss mutations causing expression loss of a tissue-relevant isoform of an essential protein can cause a genetic disease, even when an organism-wide protein absence is incompatible with life. We provide additional examples where a similar disease mechanism applies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02109-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7035241PMC
March 2020

Bi-allelic Loss of Human APC2, Encoding Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein 2, Leads to Lissencephaly, Subcortical Heterotopia, and Global Developmental Delay.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 10;105(4):844-853

Department of Neurosciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093, USA; Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine, Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA 92123, USA. Electronic address:

Lissencephaly is a severe brain malformation in which failure of neuronal migration results in agyria or pachygyria and in which the brain surface appears unusually smooth. It is often associated with microcephaly, profound intellectual disability, epilepsy, and impaired motor abilities. Twenty-two genes are associated with lissencephaly, accounting for approximately 80% of disease. Here we report on 12 individuals with a unique form of lissencephaly; these individuals come from eight unrelated families and have bi-allelic mutations in APC2, encoding adenomatous polyposis coli protein 2. Brain imaging studies demonstrate extensive posterior predominant lissencephaly, similar to PAFAH1B1-associated lissencephaly, as well as co-occurrence of subcortical heterotopia posterior to the caudate nuclei, "ribbon-like" heterotopia in the posterior frontal region, and dysplastic in-folding of the mesial occipital cortex. The established role of APC2 in integrating the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons to mediate cellular morphological changes suggests shared function with other lissencephaly-encoded cytoskeletal proteins such as α-N-catenin (CTNNA2) and platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase 1b regulatory subunit 1 (PAFAH1B1, also known as LIS1). Our findings identify APC2 as a radiographically distinguishable recessive form of lissencephaly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.08.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817548PMC
October 2019

Diagnostic Utility of Genome-wide DNA Methylation Testing in Genetically Unsolved Individuals with Suspected Hereditary Conditions.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 04 28;104(4):685-700. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Western University, London, ON N6A 3K7, Canada; Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Molecular Diagnostics Division, London Health Sciences Centre, London, ON N6A 5W9, Canada. Electronic address:

Conventional genetic testing of individuals with neurodevelopmental presentations and congenital anomalies (ND/CAs), i.e., the analysis of sequence and copy number variants, leaves a substantial proportion of them unexplained. Some of these cases have been shown to result from DNA methylation defects at a single locus (epi-variants), while others can exhibit syndrome-specific DNA methylation changes across multiple loci (epi-signatures). Here, we investigate the clinical diagnostic utility of genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of peripheral blood in unresolved ND/CAs. We generate a computational model enabling concurrent detection of 14 syndromes using DNA methylation data with full accuracy. We demonstrate the ability of this model in resolving 67 individuals with uncertain clinical diagnoses, some of whom had variants of unknown clinical significance (VUS) in the related genes. We show that the provisional diagnoses can be ruled out in many of the case subjects, some of whom are shown by our model to have other diseases initially not considered. By applying this model to a cohort of 965 ND/CA-affected subjects without a previous diagnostic assumption and a separate assessment of rare epi-variants in this cohort, we identify 15 case subjects with syndromic Mendelian disorders, 12 case subjects with imprinting and trinucleotide repeat expansion disorders, as well as 106 case subjects with rare epi-variants, a portion of which involved genes clinically or functionally linked to the subjects' phenotypes. This study demonstrates that genomic DNA methylation analysis can facilitate the molecular diagnosis of unresolved clinical cases and highlights the potential value of epigenomic testing in the routine clinical assessment of ND/CAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.03.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451739PMC
April 2019

De novo mutations in the GTP/GDP-binding region of RALA, a RAS-like small GTPase, cause intellectual disability and developmental delay.

PLoS Genet 2018 11 30;14(11):e1007671. Epub 2018 Nov 30.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, AL, United States of America.

Mutations that alter signaling of RAS/MAPK-family proteins give rise to a group of Mendelian diseases known as RASopathies. However, among RASopathies, the matrix of genotype-phenotype relationships is still incomplete, in part because there are many RAS-related proteins and in part because the phenotypic consequences may be variable and/or pleiotropic. Here, we describe a cohort of ten cases, drawn from six clinical sites and over 16,000 sequenced probands, with de novo protein-altering variation in RALA, a RAS-like small GTPase. All probands present with speech and motor delays, and most have intellectual disability, low weight, short stature, and facial dysmorphism. The observed rate of de novo RALA variants in affected probands is significantly higher (p = 4.93 x 10(-11)) than expected from the estimated random mutation rate. Further, all de novo variants described here affect residues within the GTP/GDP-binding region of RALA; in fact, six alleles arose at only two codons, Val25 and Lys128. The affected residues are highly conserved across both RAL- and RAS-family genes, are devoid of variation in large human population datasets, and several are homologous to positions at which disease-associated variants have been observed in other GTPase genes. We directly assayed GTP hydrolysis and RALA effector-protein binding of the observed variants, and found that all but one tested variant significantly reduced both activities compared to wild-type. The one exception, S157A, reduced GTP hydrolysis but significantly increased RALA-effector binding, an observation similar to that seen for oncogenic RAS variants. These results show the power of data sharing for the interpretation and analysis of rare variation, expand the spectrum of molecular causes of developmental disability to include RALA, and provide additional insight into the pathogenesis of human disease caused by mutations in small GTPases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007671DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6291162PMC
November 2018

A Recurrent De Novo Heterozygous COG4 Substitution Leads to Saul-Wilson Syndrome, Disrupted Vesicular Trafficking, and Altered Proteoglycan Glycosylation.

Am J Hum Genet 2018 10;103(4):553-567

Human Genetics Program, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.

The conserved oligomeric Golgi (COG) complex is involved in intracellular vesicular transport, and is composed of eight subunits distributed in two lobes, lobe A (COG1-4) and lobe B (COG5-8). We describe fourteen individuals with Saul-Wilson syndrome, a rare form of primordial dwarfism with characteristic facial and radiographic features. All affected subjects harbored heterozygous de novo variants in COG4, giving rise to the same recurrent amino acid substitution (p.Gly516Arg). Affected individuals' fibroblasts, whose COG4 mRNA and protein were not decreased, exhibited delayed anterograde vesicular trafficking from the ER to the Golgi and accelerated retrograde vesicular recycling from the Golgi to the ER. This altered steady-state equilibrium led to a decrease in Golgi volume, as well as morphologic abnormalities with collapse of the Golgi stacks. Despite these abnormalities of the Golgi apparatus, protein glycosylation in sera and fibroblasts from affected subjects was not notably altered, but decorin, a proteoglycan secreted into the extracellular matrix, showed altered Golgi-dependent glycosylation. In summary, we define a specific heterozygous COG4 substitution as the molecular basis of Saul-Wilson syndrome, a rare skeletal dysplasia distinct from biallelic COG4-CDG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.09.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174323PMC
October 2018

De Novo and Inherited Loss-of-Function Variants in TLK2: Clinical and Genotype-Phenotype Evaluation of a Distinct Neurodevelopmental Disorder.

Am J Hum Genet 2018 06 31;102(6):1195-1203. Epub 2018 May 31.

Clinical Genetics Group, MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DS, UK; Craniofacial Unit, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK. Electronic address:

Next-generation sequencing is a powerful tool for the discovery of genes related to neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Here, we report the identification of a distinct syndrome due to de novo or inherited heterozygous mutations in Tousled-like kinase 2 (TLK2) in 38 unrelated individuals and two affected mothers, using whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing technologies, matchmaker databases, and international collaborations. Affected individuals had a consistent phenotype, characterized by mild-borderline neurodevelopmental delay (86%), behavioral disorders (68%), severe gastro-intestinal problems (63%), and facial dysmorphism including blepharophimosis (82%), telecanthus (74%), prominent nasal bridge (68%), broad nasal tip (66%), thin vermilion of the upper lip (62%), and upslanting palpebral fissures (55%). Analysis of cell lines from three affected individuals showed that mutations act through a loss-of-function mechanism in at least two case subjects. Genotype-phenotype analysis and comparison of computationally modeled faces showed that phenotypes of these and other individuals with loss-of-function variants significantly overlapped with phenotypes of individuals with other variant types (missense and C-terminal truncating). This suggests that haploinsufficiency of TLK2 is the most likely underlying disease mechanism, leading to a consistent neurodevelopmental phenotype. This work illustrates the power of international data sharing, by the identification of 40 individuals from 26 different centers in 7 different countries, allowing the identification, clinical delineation, and genotype-phenotype evaluation of a distinct NDD caused by mutations in TLK2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.04.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992133PMC
June 2018

The Sweat Metabolome of Screen-Positive Cystic Fibrosis Infants: Revealing Mechanisms beyond Impaired Chloride Transport.

ACS Cent Sci 2017 Aug 31;3(8):904-913. Epub 2017 Jul 31.

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L8, Canada.

The sweat chloride test remains the gold standard for confirmatory diagnosis of cystic fibrosis (CF) in support of universal newborn screening programs. However, it provides ambiguous results for intermediate sweat chloride cases while not reflecting disease progression when classifying the complex CF disease spectrum given the pleiotropic effects of gene modifiers and environment. Herein we report the first characterization of the sweat metabolome from screen-positive CF infants and identify metabolites associated with disease status that complement sweat chloride testing. Pilocarpine-stimulated sweat specimens were collected independently from two CF clinics, including 50 unaffected infants (e.g., carriers) and 18 confirmed CF cases. Nontargeted metabolite profiling was performed using multisegment injection-capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry as a high throughput platform for analysis of polar/ionic metabolites in volume-restricted sweat samples. Amino acids, organic acids, amino acid derivatives, dipeptides, purine derivatives, and unknown exogenous compounds were identified in sweat when using high resolution tandem mass spectrometry, including metabolites associated with affected yet asymptomatic CF infants, such as asparagine and glutamine. Unexpectedly, a metabolite of pilocarpine, used to stimulate sweat secretion, pilocarpic acid, and a plasticizer metabolite from environmental exposure, mono(2-ethylhexyl)phthalic acid, were secreted in the sweat of CF infants at significantly lower concentrations relative to unaffected CF screen-positive controls. These results indicated a deficiency in human paraoxonase, an enzyme unrelated to mutations to the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and impaired chloride transport, which is a nonspecific arylesterase/lactonase known to mediate inflammation, bacterial biofilm formation, and recurrent lung infections in affected CF children later in life. This work sheds new light into the underlying mechanisms of CF pathophysiology as required for new advances in precision medicine of orphan diseases that benefit from early detection and intervention, including new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.7b00299DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5571457PMC
August 2017

Reciprocal deletion and duplication at 2q23.1 indicates a role for MBD5 in autism spectrum disorder.

Eur J Hum Genet 2014 Jan 1;22(1):57-63. Epub 2013 May 1.

1] Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA [2] Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA [3] Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Copy number variations associated with abnormal gene dosage have an important role in the genetic etiology of many neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability (ID) and autism. We hypothesize that the chromosome 2q23.1 region encompassing MBD5 is a dosage-dependent region, wherein deletion or duplication results in altered gene dosage. We previously established the 2q23.1 microdeletion syndrome and report herein 23 individuals with 2q23.1 duplications, thus establishing a complementary duplication syndrome. The observed phenotype includes ID, language impairments, infantile hypotonia and gross motor delay, behavioral problems, autistic features, dysmorphic facial features (pinnae anomalies, arched eyebrows, prominent nose, small chin, thin upper lip), and minor digital anomalies (fifth finger clinodactyly and large broad first toe). The microduplication size varies among all cases and ranges from 68 kb to 53.7 Mb, encompassing a region that includes MBD5, an important factor in methylation patterning and epigenetic regulation. We previously reported that haploinsufficiency of MBD5 is the primary causal factor in 2q23.1 microdeletion syndrome and that mutations in MBD5 are associated with autism. In this study, we demonstrate that MBD5 is the only gene in common among all duplication cases and that overexpression of MBD5 is likely responsible for the core clinical features present in 2q23.1 microduplication syndrome. Phenotypic analyses suggest that 2q23.1 duplication results in a slightly less severe phenotype than the reciprocal deletion. The features associated with a deletion, mutation or duplication of MBD5 and the gene expression changes observed support MBD5 as a dosage-sensitive gene critical for normal development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2013.67DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865402PMC
January 2014

Severe intellectual disability and autistic features associated with microduplication 2q23.1.

Eur J Hum Genet 2012 Apr 16;20(4):398-403. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

We report on two patients with developmental delay, hypotonia, and autistic features associated with duplications of chromosome region 2q23.1-2q23.2 detected by chromosome microarray analysis. The duplications include one OMIM Morbid Map gene, MBD5, as well as seven known RefSeq genes (ACVR2A, ORC4L, EPC2, KIF5C, MIR1978, LYPD6B, and LYPD6). MBD5 lies in the minimum area of overlap of the 2q23.1 microdeletion syndrome. This report provides the first detailed clinical examination of two individuals with a duplication of this region and suggests that brain development and cognitive function may be affected by an increased dosage of the genes involved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2011.199DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3306850PMC
April 2012