Publications by authors named "Melissa B Ramocki"

24 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

16p11.2 deletion and duplication: Characterizing neurologic phenotypes in a large clinically ascertained cohort.

Am J Med Genet A 2016 11 13;170(11):2943-2955. Epub 2016 Jul 13.

University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Chromosome 16p11.2 deletions and duplications are among the most frequent genetic etiologies of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders, but detailed descriptions of their neurologic phenotypes have not yet been completed. We utilized standardized examination and history methods to characterize a neurologic phenotype in 136 carriers of 16p11.2 deletion and 110 carriers of 16p11.2 duplication-the largest cohort to date of uniformly and comprehensively characterized individuals with the same 16p copy number variants (CNVs). The 16p11.2 deletion neurologic phenotype is characterized by highly prevalent speech articulation abnormalities, limb and trunk hypotonia with hyporeflexia, abnormalities of agility, sacral dimples, seizures/epilepsy, large head size/macrocephaly, and Chiari I/cerebellar tonsillar ectopia. Speech articulation abnormalities, hypotonia, abnormal agility, sacral dimples, and seizures/epilepsy are also seen in duplication carriers, along with more prominent hyperreflexia; less, though still prevalent, hyporeflexia; highly prevalent action tremor; small head size/microcephaly; and cerebral white matter/corpus callosum abnormalities and ventricular enlargement. The neurologic phenotypes of these reciprocal 16p11.2 CNVs include both shared and distinct features. Reciprocal phenotypic characteristics of predominant hypo- versus hyperreflexia and macro- versus microcephaly may reflect opposite neurobiological abnormalities with converging effects causing the functional impairments shared between 16p11.2 deletion and duplication carriers (i.e., abnormal motor agility and articulation). While the phenotypes exhibit overlap with other genetically-caused neurodevelopmental disorders, clinicians should be aware of the more striking features-such as the speech and motor impairments, growth abnormalities, tremor, and sacral dimples-when evaluating individuals with developmental delay, intellectual disability, ASD, and/or language disorders. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.37820DOI Listing
November 2016

Clinical phenotype of the recurrent 1q21.1 copy-number variant.

Genet Med 2016 Apr 11;18(4):341-9. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.

Purpose: To characterize the clinical phenotype of the recurrent copy-number variation (CNV) at 1q21.1, we assessed the psychiatric and medical phenotypes of 1q21.1 deletion and duplication carriers ascertained through clinical genetic testing and family member cascade testing, with particular emphasis on dimensional assessment across multiple functional domains.

Methods: Nineteen individuals with 1q21.1 deletion, 19 individuals with the duplication, and 23 familial controls (noncarrier siblings and parents) spanning early childhood through adulthood were evaluated for psychiatric, neurologic, and other medical diagnoses, and their cognitive, adaptive, language, motor, and neurologic domains were also assessed. Twenty-eight individuals with 1q21.1 CNVs (15 deletion, 13 duplication) underwent structural magnetic resonance brain imaging.

Results: Probands with 1q21.1 CNVs presented with a range of psychiatric, neurologic, and medical disorders. Deletion and duplication carriers shared several features, including borderline cognitive functioning, impaired fine and gross motor functioning, articulation abnormalities, and hypotonia. Increased frequency of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, increased ASD symptom severity, and increased prevalence of macrocephaly were observed in the duplication relative to deletion carriers, whereas reciprocally increased prevalence of microcephaly was observed in the deletion carriers.

Conclusions: Individuals with 1q21.1 deletions or duplications exhibit consistent deficits on motor and cognitive functioning and abnormalities in head circumference.Genet Med 18 4, 341-349.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/gim.2015.78DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7263044PMC
April 2016

Dosage changes of a segment at 17p13.1 lead to intellectual disability and microcephaly as a result of complex genetic interaction of multiple genes.

Am J Hum Genet 2014 Nov 6;95(5):565-78. Epub 2014 Nov 6.

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA; Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA; Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Electronic address:

The 17p13.1 microdeletion syndrome is a recently described genomic disorder with a core clinical phenotype of intellectual disability, poor to absent speech, dysmorphic features, and a constellation of more variable clinical features, most prominently microcephaly. We identified five subjects with copy-number variants (CNVs) on 17p13.1 for whom we performed detailed clinical and molecular studies. Breakpoint mapping and retrospective analysis of published cases refined the smallest region of overlap (SRO) for microcephaly to a genomic interval containing nine genes. Dissection of this phenotype in zebrafish embryos revealed a complex genetic architecture: dosage perturbation of four genes (ASGR1, ACADVL, DVL2, and GABARAP) impeded neurodevelopment and decreased dosage of the same loci caused a reduced mitotic index in vitro. Moreover, epistatic analyses in vivo showed that dosage perturbations of discrete gene pairings induce microcephaly. Taken together, these studies support a model in which concomitant dosage perturbation of multiple genes within the CNV drive the microcephaly and possibly other neurodevelopmental phenotypes associated with rearrangements in the 17p13.1 SRO.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.10.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225592PMC
November 2014

Fusion of large-scale genomic knowledge and frequency data computationally prioritizes variants in epilepsy.

PLoS Genet 2013 26;9(9):e1003797. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.

Curation and interpretation of copy number variants identified by genome-wide testing is challenged by the large number of events harbored in each personal genome. Conventional determination of phenotypic relevance relies on patterns of higher frequency in affected individuals versus controls; however, an increasing amount of ascertained variation is rare or private to clans. Consequently, frequency data have less utility to resolve pathogenic from benign. One solution is disease-specific algorithms that leverage gene knowledge together with variant frequency to aid prioritization. We used large-scale resources including Gene Ontology, protein-protein interactions and other annotation systems together with a broad set of 83 genes with known associations to epilepsy to construct a pathogenicity score for the phenotype. We evaluated the score for all annotated human genes and applied Bayesian methods to combine the derived pathogenicity score with frequency information from our diagnostic laboratory. Analysis determined Bayes factors and posterior distributions for each gene. We applied our method to subjects with abnormal chromosomal microarray results and confirmed epilepsy diagnoses gathered by electronic medical record review. Genes deleted in our subjects with epilepsy had significantly higher pathogenicity scores and Bayes factors compared to subjects referred for non-neurologic indications. We also applied our scores to identify a recently validated epilepsy gene in a complex genomic region and to reveal candidate genes for epilepsy. We propose a potential use in clinical decision support for our results in the context of genome-wide screening. Our approach demonstrates the utility of integrative data in medical genomics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1003797DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784560PMC
March 2014

Replicative mechanisms for CNV formation are error prone.

Nat Genet 2013 Nov 22;45(11):1319-26. Epub 2013 Sep 22.

1] Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA. [2] Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou-FIOCRUZ, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

We investigated 67 breakpoint junctions of gene copy number gains in 31 unrelated subjects. We observed a strikingly high frequency of small deletions and insertions (29%) apparently originating from polymerase slippage events, in addition to frameshifts and point mutations in homonucleotide runs (13%), at or flanking the breakpoint junctions of complex copy number variants. These single-nucleotide variants were generated concomitantly with the de novo complex genomic rearrangement (CGR) event. Our findings implicate low-fidelity, error-prone DNA polymerase activity in synthesis associated with DNA repair mechanisms as the cause of local increase in point mutation burden associated with human CGR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.2768DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3821386PMC
November 2013

TM4SF20 ancestral deletion and susceptibility to a pediatric disorder of early language delay and cerebral white matter hyperintensities.

Am J Hum Genet 2013 Aug 27;93(2):197-210. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

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

White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) of the brain are important markers of aging and small-vessel disease. WMHs are rare in healthy children and, when observed, often occur with comorbid neuroinflammatory or vasculitic processes. Here, we describe a complex 4 kb deletion in 2q36.3 that segregates with early childhood communication disorders and WMH in 15 unrelated families predominantly from Southeast Asia. The premature brain aging phenotype with punctate and multifocal WMHs was observed in ~70% of young carrier parents who underwent brain MRI. The complex deletion removes the penultimate exon 3 of TM4SF20, a gene encoding a transmembrane protein of unknown function. Minigene analysis showed that the resultant net loss of an exon introduces a premature stop codon, which, in turn, leads to the generation of a stable protein that fails to target to the plasma membrane and accumulates in the cytoplasm. Finally, we report this deletion to be enriched in individuals of Vietnamese Kinh descent, with an allele frequency of about 1%, embedded in an ancestral haplotype. Our data point to a constellation of early language delay and WMH phenotypes, driven by a likely toxic mechanism of TM4SF20 truncation, and highlight the importance of understanding and managing population-specific low-frequency pathogenic alleles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.05.027DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738832PMC
August 2013

Overexpression of methyl-CpG binding protein 2 impairs T(H)1 responses.

Sci Transl Med 2012 Dec;4(163):163ra158

Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine Program, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

The DNA binding protein methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) critically influences neuronal and brain function by modulating gene expression, and children with overexpression of the MECP2 gene exhibit postnatal neurological syndromes. We demonstrate that some children with MECP2 duplication also display variable immunological abnormalities that include reductions in memory T and B cells and natural killer cells and immunoglobulin assay responses. Moreover, whereas mice with MeCP2 overexpression were unable to control infection with the intra-macrophage parasite Leishmania major and secrete interferon-γ (IFN-γ) from involved lymph nodes, they were able to control airway fungal infection by Aspergillus niger and mount protective T helper cell type 2 (T(H)2)-dependent allergic responses. Relative to normal T cells, T(H) cells from children and mice with MECP2 duplication displayed similar impairments in IFN-γ secretion and T(H)1 responses that were due to both MeCP2-dependent suppression of IFN-γ transcription and sequestration of the IFN-γ locus as assessed by chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. Thus, overexpressed MeCP2 aberrantly suppresses IFN-γ secretion from T(H) cells, potentially leading to a partially immunodeficient state. Our findings establish a rational basis for identifying, treating, and preventing infectious complications potentially affecting children with MECP2 duplication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3004430DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628825PMC
December 2012

The behavioral phenotype in MECP2 duplication syndrome: a comparison with idiopathic autism.

Autism Res 2013 Feb 20;6(1):42-50. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.

Alterations in the X-linked gene MECP2 encoding the methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 have been linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Most recently, data suggest that overexpression of MECP2 may be related to ASD. To better characterize the relevance of MECP2 overexpression to ASD-related behaviors, we compared the core symptoms of ASD in MECP2 duplication syndrome to nonverbal mental age-matched boys with idiopathic ASD. Within the MECP2 duplication group, we further delineated aspects of the behavioral phenotype and also examined how duplication size and gene content corresponded to clinical severity. We compared ten males with MECP2 duplication syndrome (ages 3-10) with a chronological and mental age-matched sample of nine nonverbal males with idiopathic ASD. Our results indicate that boys with MECP2 duplication syndrome share the core behavioral features of ASD (e.g. social affect, restricted/repetitive behaviors). Direct comparisons of ASD profiles revealed that a majority of boys with MECP2 duplication syndrome are similar to idiopathic ASD; they have impairments in social affect (albeit to a lesser degree than idiopathic ASD) and similar severity in restricted/repetitive behaviors. Nonverbal mental age did not correlate with severity of social impairment or repetitive behaviors. Within the MECP2 duplication group, breakpoint size does not predict differences in clinical severity. In addition to social withdrawal and stereotyped behaviors, we also found that hyposensitivity to pain/temperature are part of the behavioral phenotype of MECP2 duplication syndrome. Our results illustrate that overexpression/increased dosage of MECP2 is related to core features of ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.1262DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578988PMC
February 2013

A 600 kb deletion syndrome at 16p11.2 leads to energy imbalance and neuropsychiatric disorders.

J Med Genet 2012 Oct;49(10):660-8

Service de Génétique Médicale, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Background: The recurrent ~600 kb 16p11.2 BP4-BP5 deletion is among the most frequent known genetic aetiologies of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Objective: To define the medical, neuropsychological, and behavioural phenotypes in carriers of this deletion.

Methods: We collected clinical data on 285 deletion carriers and performed detailed evaluations on 72 carriers and 68 intrafamilial non-carrier controls.

Results: When compared to intrafamilial controls, full scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) is two standard deviations lower in carriers, and there is no difference between carriers referred for neurodevelopmental disorders and carriers identified through cascade family testing. Verbal IQ (mean 74) is lower than non-verbal IQ (mean 83) and a majority of carriers require speech therapy. Over 80% of individuals exhibit psychiatric disorders including ASD, which is present in 15% of the paediatric carriers. Increase in head circumference (HC) during infancy is similar to the HC and brain growth patterns observed in idiopathic ASD. Obesity, a major comorbidity present in 50% of the carriers by the age of 7 years, does not correlate with FSIQ or any behavioural trait. Seizures are present in 24% of carriers and occur independently of other symptoms. Malformations are infrequently found, confirming only a few of the previously reported associations.

Conclusions: The 16p11.2 deletion impacts in a quantitative and independent manner FSIQ, behaviour and body mass index, possibly through direct influences on neural circuitry. Although non-specific, these features are clinically significant and reproducible. Lastly, this study demonstrates the necessity of studying large patient cohorts ascertained through multiple methods to characterise the clinical consequences of rare variants involved in common diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2012-101203DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3494011PMC
October 2012

A partial MECP2 duplication in a mildly affected adult male: a putative role for the 3' untranslated region in the MECP2 duplication phenotype.

BMC Med Genet 2012 Aug 10;13:71. Epub 2012 Aug 10.

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Background: Duplications of the X-linked MECP2 gene are associated with moderate to severe intellectual disability, epilepsy, and neuropsychiatric illness in males, while triplications are associated with a more severe phenotype. Most carrier females show complete skewing of X-inactivation in peripheral blood and an apparent susceptibility to specific personality traits or neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Methods: We describe the clinical phenotype of a pedigree segregating a duplication of MECP2 found on clinical array comparative genomic hybridization. The position, size, and extent of the duplication were delineated in peripheral blood samples from affected individuals using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification and fluorescence in situ hybridization, as well as targeted high-resolution oligonucleotide microarray analysis and long-range PCR. The molecular consequences of the rearrangement were studied in lymphoblast cell lines using quantitative real-time PCR, reverse transcriptase PCR, and western blot analysis.

Results: We observed a partial MECP2 duplication in an adult male with epilepsy and mild neurocognitive impairment who was able to function independently; this phenotype has not previously been reported among males harboring gains in MECP2 copy number. The same duplication was inherited by this individual's daughter who was also affected with neurocognitive impairment and epilepsy and carried an additional copy-number variant. The duplicated segment involved all four exons of MECP2, but excluded almost the entire 3' untranslated region (UTR), and the genomic rearrangement resulted in a MECP2-TEX28 fusion gene mRNA transcript. Increased expression of MECP2 and the resulting fusion gene were both confirmed; however, western blot analysis of lysates from lymphoblast cells demonstrated increased MeCP2 protein without evidence of a stable fusion gene protein product.

Conclusion: The observations of a mildly affected adult male with a MECP2 duplication and paternal transmission of this duplication are unique among reported cases with a duplication of MECP2. The clinical and molecular findings imply a minimal critical region for the full neurocognitive expression of the MECP2 duplication syndrome, and suggest a role for the 3' UTR in mitigating the severity of the disease phenotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2350-13-71DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575261PMC
August 2012

Inverted genomic segments and complex triplication rearrangements are mediated by inverted repeats in the human genome.

Nat Genet 2011 Oct 2;43(11):1074-81. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

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

We identified complex genomic rearrangements consisting of intermixed duplications and triplications of genomic segments at the MECP2 and PLP1 loci. These complex rearrangements were characterized by a triplicated segment embedded within a duplication in 11 unrelated subjects. Notably, only two breakpoint junctions were generated during each rearrangement formation. All the complex rearrangement products share a common genomic organization, duplication-inverted triplication-duplication (DUP-TRP/INV-DUP), in which the triplicated segment is inverted and located between directly oriented duplicated genomic segments. We provide evidence that the DUP-TRP/INV-DUP structures are mediated by inverted repeats that can be separated by >300 kb, a genomic architecture that apparently leads to susceptibility to such complex rearrangements. A similar inverted repeat-mediated mechanism may underlie structural variation in many other regions of the human genome. We propose a mechanism that involves both homology-driven events, via inverted repeats, and microhomologous or nonhomologous events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.944DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3235474PMC
October 2011

Whole-exome sequencing identifies compound heterozygous mutations in WDR62 in siblings with recurrent polymicrogyria.

Am J Med Genet A 2011 Sep 10;155A(9):2071-7. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.

Polymicrogyria is a disorder of neuronal development resulting in structurally abnormal cerebral hemispheres characterized by over-folding and abnormal lamination of the cerebral cortex. Polymicrogyria is frequently associated with severe neurologic deficits including intellectual disability, motor problems, and epilepsy. There are acquired and genetic causes of polymicrogyria, but most patients with a presumed genetic etiology lack a specific diagnosis. Here we report using whole-exome sequencing to identify compound heterozygous mutations in the WD repeat domain 62 (WDR62) gene as the cause of recurrent polymicrogyria in a sibling pair. Sanger sequencing confirmed that the siblings both inherited 1-bp (maternal allele) and 2-bp (paternal allele) frameshift deletions, which predict premature truncation of WDR62, a protein that has a role in early cortical development. The probands are from a non-consanguineous family of Northern European descent, suggesting that autosomal recessive PMG due to compound heterozygous mutation of WDR62 might be a relatively common cause of PMG in the population. Further studies to identify mutation frequency in the population are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.34165DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3616765PMC
September 2011

Recurrent partial rhombencephalosynapsis and holoprosencephaly in siblings with a mutation of ZIC2.

Am J Med Genet A 2011 Jul 2;155A(7):1574-80. Epub 2011 Jun 2.

Division of Pediatric Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.

Rhombencephalosynapsis (RES) is a rare congenital brain malformation typically identified by magnetic resonance imaging and characterized by fusion of the cerebellar hemispheres and dentate nuclei and vermian agenesis or hypogenesis. Although RES is frequently found in conjunction with other brain malformations and/or congenital anomalies, no specific molecular etiology has been discovered to date and no animal models exist. We identified two half sisters with alobar or semi-lobar holoprosencephaly (HPE) and partial RES, suggesting that genes linked to HPE may also contribute to RES. A deletion of seven base pairs in exon one of the ZIC2 gene (c.392_98del7) was identified in each of the two half sisters with HPE and partial RES. To identify genetic causes of RES and to assess whether genes identified in HPE have a role in RES, we tested 11 additional individuals with RES by high-resolution chromosome analysis, chromosomal microarray analysis, and sequencing of four HPE genes. No mutations in ZIC2 or in other genes that cause HPE were identified, suggesting that mutation of ZIC2 is a rare cause of, or contributor to, RES associated with HPE. In addition, an individual with a complex rearrangement of chromosome 22q13.3 and RES was identified, suggesting the presence of a dosage-sensitive gene that may contribute to RES in this region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.34029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3121908PMC
July 2011

TGFBR2 deletion in a 20-month-old female with developmental delay and microcephaly.

Am J Med Genet A 2011 Jun 12;155A(6):1442-7. Epub 2011 May 12.

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

To date, over 70 mutations in the TGFBR2 gene have been reported in patients with Loeys-Dietz syndrome (LDS), Marfan syndrome type 2 (MFS2), or other hereditary thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections. Whereas almost all of mutations analyzed thus far are predicted to disrupt the constitutively active C-terminal serine/threonine kinase domain of TGFBR2, mounting evidence suggests that the molecular mechanism underlying these diseases is more complex than simple haploinsufficiency. Using exon-targeted oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization, we identified an ∼896 kb deletion of TGFBR2 in a 20-month-old female with microcephaly and global developmental delay, but no stigmata of LDS. FISH analysis showed no evidence of this deletion in the parental peripheral blood samples; however, somatic mosaicism was detected using PCR in the paternal DNA from peripheral blood lymphocytes and lymphoblasts. Our data suggest that TGFBR2 haploinsufficiency may cause a phenotype, which is distinct from LDS. Moreover, we propose that somatic mosaicism below the detection threshold of FISH analysis in asymptomatic parents of children with genomic disorders may be more common than previously recognized.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.34015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3646644PMC
June 2011

Bilateral in utero cerebellar infarction.

J Child Neurol 2011 Jul 24;26(7):895-9. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas, USA.

We report a case of complete bilateral cerebellar infarction diagnosed in utero by routine prenatal ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging in a 26-week-old fetus. This posterior fossa ischemic stroke with secondary hemorrhage caused transient obstructive hydrocephalus and likely occurred subsequent to vertebrobasilar artery thrombosis. Such posterior fossa ischemic insults diagnosed in utero are rare with scarce clinical reports. The serial imaging characteristics, clinical, and developmental implications of this case are reviewed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0883073810393961DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3128202PMC
July 2011

MECP2 duplications in six patients with complex sex chromosome rearrangements.

Eur J Hum Genet 2011 Apr 1;19(4):409-15. Epub 2010 Dec 1.

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

Duplications of the Xq28 chromosome region resulting in functional disomy are associated with a distinct clinical phenotype characterized by infantile hypotonia, severe developmental delay, progressive neurological impairment, absent speech, and proneness to infections. Increased expression of the dosage-sensitive MECP2 gene is considered responsible for the severe neurological impairments observed in affected individuals. Although cytogenetically visible duplications of Xq28 are well documented in the published literature, recent advances using array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) led to the detection of an increasing number of microduplications spanning MECP2. In rare cases, duplication results from intrachromosomal rearrangement between the X and Y chromosomes. We report six cases with sex chromosome rearrangements involving duplication of MECP2. Cases 1-4 are unbalanced rearrangements between X and Y, resulting in MECP2 duplication. The additional Xq material was translocated to Yp in three cases (cases 1-3), and to the heterochromatic region of Yq12 in one case (case 4). Cases 5 and 6 were identified by array CGH to have a loss in copy number at Xp and a gain in copy number at Xq28 involving the MECP2 gene. In both cases, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis revealed a recombinant X chromosome containing the duplicated material from Xq28 on Xp, resulting from a maternal pericentric inversion. These cases add to a growing number of MECP2 duplications that have been detected by array CGH, while demonstrating the value of confirmatory chromosome and FISH studies for the localization of the duplicated material and the identification of complex rearrangements.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2010.195DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3060318PMC
April 2011

Recurrent distal 7q11.23 deletion including HIP1 and YWHAG identified in patients with intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, and neurobehavioral problems.

Am J Hum Genet 2010 Dec 25;87(6):857-65. Epub 2010 Nov 25.

Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

We report 26 individuals from ten unrelated families who exhibit variable expression and/or incomplete penetrance of epilepsy, learning difficulties, intellectual disabilities, and/or neurobehavioral abnormalities as a result of a heterozygous microdeletion distally adjacent to the Williams-Beuren syndrome region on chromosome 7q11.23. In six families with a common recurrent ∼1.2 Mb deletion that includes the Huntingtin-interacting protein 1 (HIP1) and tyrosine 3-monooxygenase/tryptophan 5-monooxygenase activation protein gamma (YWHAG) genes and that is flanked by large complex low-copy repeats, we identified sites for nonallelic homologous recombination in two patients. There were no cases of this ∼1.2 Mb distal 7q11.23 deletion copy number variant identified in over 20,000 control samples surveyed. Three individuals with smaller, nonrecurrent deletions (∼180-500 kb) that include HIP1 but not YWHAG suggest that deletion of HIP1 is sufficient to cause neurological disease. Mice with targeted mutation in the Hip1 gene (Hip1⁻(/)⁻) develop a neurological phenotype characterized by failure to thrive, tremor, and gait ataxia. Overall, our data characterize a neurodevelopmental and epilepsy syndrome that is likely caused by recurrent and nonrecurrent deletions, including HIP1. These data do not exclude the possibility that YWHAG loss of function is also sufficient to cause neurological phenotypes. Based on the current knowledge of Hip1 protein function and its proposed role in AMPA and NMDA ionotropic glutamate receptor trafficking, we believe that HIP1 haploinsufficiency in humans will be amenable to rational drug design for improved seizure control and cognitive and behavioral function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.10.019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2997378PMC
December 2010

The MECP2 duplication syndrome.

Am J Med Genet A 2010 May;152A(5):1079-88

Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

In this review, we detail the history, molecular diagnosis, epidemiology, and clinical features of the MECP2 duplication syndrome, including considerations for the care of patients with this X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder. MECP2 duplication syndrome is 100% penetrant in affected males and is associated with infantile hypotonia, severe to profound mental retardation, autism or autistic features, poor speech development, recurrent infections, epilepsy, progressive spasticity, and, in some cases, developmental regression. Most of the reported cases are inherited, however, de novo cases have been documented. While carrier females have been reported to be unaffected, more recent research demonstrates that despite normal intelligence, female carriers display a range of neuropsychiatric phenotypes that pre-date the birth of an affected son. Given what we know of the syndrome to date, we propose that genetic testing is warranted in cases of males with infantile hypotonia and in cases of boys with mental retardation and autistic features with or without recurrent infections, progressive spasticity, epilepsy, or developmental regression. We discuss recommendations for clinical management and surveillance as well as the need for further clinical, genotype-phenotype, and molecular studies to assist the patients and their families who are affected by this syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.33184DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861792PMC
May 2010

Autism and other neuropsychiatric symptoms are prevalent in individuals with MeCP2 duplication syndrome.

Ann Neurol 2009 Dec;66(6):771-82

Section of Child Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Objective: There have been no objective assessments to determine whether boys with MECP2 duplication have autism or whether female carriers manifest phenotypes. This study characterizes the clinical and neuropsychiatric phenotypes of affected boys and carrier females.

Methods: Eight families (9 males and 9 females) with MECP2 duplication participated. A detailed history, physical examination, electroencephalogram, developmental evaluation, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, and Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised were performed for each boy. Carrier females completed the Symptom Checklist-90-R, Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire, and detailed medical and mental health histories. Size and gene content of each duplication were determined by array comparative genome hybridization. X-chromosome inactivation patterns were analyzed using leukocyte DNA. MECP2 and IRAK1 RNA levels were quantified from lymphoblast cell lines, and western blots were performed to assess MeCP2 protein levels.

Results: All of the boys demonstrated mental retardation and autism. Poor expressive language, gaze avoidance, repetitive behaviors, anxiety, and atypical socialization were prevalent. Female carriers had psychiatric symptoms, including generalized anxiety, depression, and compulsions that preceded the birth of their children. The majority exhibited features of the broad autism phenotype and had higher nonverbal compared to verbal reasoning skills.

Interpretation: Autism is a defining feature of the MECP2 duplication syndrome in boys. Females manifest phenotypes despite 100% skewing of X-inactivation and normal MECP2 RNA levels in peripheral blood. Analysis of the duplication size, MECP2 and IRAK1 RNA levels, and MeCP2 protein levels revealed that most of the traits in affected boys are likely due to the genomic region spanning of MECP2 and IRAK1. The phenotypes observed in carrier females may be secondary to tissue-specific dosage alterations and require further study. Ann Neurol 2009;66:771-782.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.21715DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2801873PMC
December 2009

Complex rearrangements in patients with duplications of MECP2 can occur by fork stalling and template switching.

Hum Mol Genet 2009 Jun 26;18(12):2188-203. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

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

Duplication at the Xq28 band including the MECP2 gene is one of the most common genomic rearrangements identified in neurodevelopmentally delayed males. Such duplications are non-recurrent and can be generated by a non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) mechanism. We investigated the potential mechanisms for MECP2 duplication and examined whether genomic architectural features may play a role in their origin using a custom designed 4-Mb tiling-path oligonucleotide array CGH assay. Each of the 30 patients analyzed showed a unique duplication varying in size from approximately 250 kb to approximately 2.6 Mb. Interestingly, in 77% of these non-recurrent duplications, the distal breakpoints grouped within a 215 kb genomic interval, located 47 kb telomeric to the MECP2 gene. The genomic architecture of this region contains both direct and inverted low-copy repeat (LCR) sequences; this same region undergoes polymorphic structural variation in the general population. Array CGH revealed complex rearrangements in eight patients; in six patients the duplication contained an embedded triplicated segment, and in the other two, stretches of non-duplicated sequences occurred within the duplicated region. Breakpoint junction sequencing was achieved in four duplications and identified an inversion in one patient, demonstrating further complexity. We propose that the presence of LCRs in the vicinity of the MECP2 gene may generate an unstable DNA structure that can induce DNA strand lesions, such as a collapsed fork, and facilitate a Fork Stalling and Template Switching event producing the complex rearrangements involving MECP2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddp151DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685756PMC
June 2009

Failure of neuronal homeostasis results in common neuropsychiatric phenotypes.

Nature 2008 Oct;455(7215):912-8

Department of Pediatrics, Section of Pediatric Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, 1 Baylor Plaza, MS 225, BCMT-T807, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

Failure of normal brain development leads to mental retardation or autism in about 3% of children. Many genes integral to pathways by which synaptic modification and the remodelling of neuronal networks mediate cognitive and social development have been identified, usually through loss of function. Evidence is accumulating, however, that either loss or gain of molecular functions can be deleterious to the nervous system. Copy-number variation, regulation of gene expression by non-coding RNAs and epigenetic changes are all mechanisms by which altered gene dosage can cause the failure of neuronal homeostasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07457DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696622PMC
October 2008

Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 presenting with cognitive regression in childhood.

J Child Neurol 2008 Sep 14;23(9):999-1001. Epub 2008 Mar 14.

Section of Pediatric Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.

Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 typically presents in adulthood with progressive ataxia, dysarthria, tremor, and slow saccadic eye movements. Childhood-onset spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 is rare, and only the infantile-onset form has been well characterized clinically. This article describes a girl who met all developmental milestones until age 3(1/2) years, when she experienced cognitive regression that preceded motor regression by 6 months. A diagnosis of spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 was delayed until she presented to the emergency department at age 7 years. This report documents the results of her neuropsychologic evaluation at both time points. This case broadens the spectrum of spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 presentation in childhood, highlights the importance of considering a spinocerebellar ataxia in a child who presents with cognitive regression only, and extends currently available clinical information to help clinicians discuss the prognosis in childhood spinocerebellar ataxia type 2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0883073808315622DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2692330PMC
September 2008

Identification and characterization of rain, a novel Ras-interacting protein with a unique subcellular localization.

J Biol Chem 2004 May 18;279(21):22353-61. Epub 2004 Mar 18.

Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2054, USA.

The Ras small GTPase functions as a signaling node and is activated by extracellular stimuli. Upon activation, Ras interacts with a spectrum of functionally diverse downstream effectors and stimulates multiple cytoplasmic signaling cascades that regulate cellular proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. In addition to the association of Ras with the plasma membrane, recent studies have established an association of Ras with Golgi membranes. Whereas the effectors of signal transduction by activated, plasma membrane-localized Ras are well characterized, very little is known about the effectors used by Golgi-localized Ras. In this study, we report the identification of a novel Ras-interacting protein, Rain, that may serve as an effector for endomembrane-associated Ras. Rain does not share significant sequence similarity with any known mammalian proteins, but contains a Ras-associating domain that is found in RalGDS, AF-6, and other characterized Ras effectors. Rain interacts with Ras in a GTP-dependent manner in vitro and in vivo, requires an intact Ras core effector-binding domain for this interaction, and thus fits the definition of a Ras effector. Unlike other Ras effectors, however, Rain is localized to perinuclear, juxta-Golgi vesicles in intact cells and is recruited to the Golgi by activated Ras. Finally, we found that Rain cooperates with activated Raf and causes synergistic transformation of NIH3T3 cells. Taken together, these observations support a role for Rain as a novel protein that can serve as an effector of endomembrane-localized Ras.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M312867200DOI Listing
May 2004

Reciprocal fusion transcripts of two novel Zn-finger genes in a female with absence of the corpus callosum, ocular colobomas and a balanced translocation between chromosomes 2p24 and 9q32.

Eur J Hum Genet 2003 Jul;11(7):527-34

Department of Human Genetics, The University of Chicago, 920 E 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.

We have identified a female patient with a complex phenotype that includes complete agenesis of the corpus callosum, bilateral periventricular nodular heterotopia, and bilateral chorioretinal and iris colobomas. Karyotype analysis revealed an apparently balanced, reciprocal, de novo chromosome translocation t(2;9)(p24;q32). Physical mapping of the translocation breakpoint by fluorescence in situ hybridization and PCR analysis led to the identification of two novel, ubiquitously expressed, Zn-finger-encoding transcripts that are disrupted in this patient. Unexpectedly, the rearrangement produced in-frame reciprocal fusion transcripts, making genotype-phenotype correlation difficult.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejhg.5200995DOI Listing
July 2003