Publications by authors named "Nour Ewida"

22 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Insight into ALKBH8-related intellectual developmental disability based on the first pathogenic missense variant.

Hum Genet 2021 Nov 10. Epub 2021 Nov 10.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, 11211, Saudi Arabia.

ALKBH8 is a methyltransferase that modifies tRNAs by methylating the anticodon wobble uridine residue. The syndrome of ALKBH8-related intellectual developmental disability (MRT71) has thus far been reported solely in the context of homozygous truncating variants that cluster in the last exon. This raises interesting questions about the disease mechanism, because these variants are predicted to escape nonsense mediated decay and yet they appear to be loss of function. Furthermore, the limited class of reported variants complicates the future interpretation of missense variants in ALKBH8. Here, we report a consanguineous family in which two children with MRT71-compatible phenotype are homozygous for a novel missense variant in the methyltransferase domain. We confirm the pathogenicity of this variant by demonstrating complete absence of ALKBH8-dependent modifications in patient cells. Targeted proteomics analysis of ALKBH8 indicates that the variant does not lead to loss of ALKBH8 protein expression. This report adds to the clinical delineation of MRT71, confirms loss of function of ALKBH8 as the disease mechanism and expands the repertoire of its molecular lesions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-021-02391-zDOI Listing
November 2021

Lethal variants in humans: lessons learned from a large molecular autopsy cohort.

Genome Med 2021 10 13;13(1):161. Epub 2021 Oct 13.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Background: Molecular autopsy refers to DNA-based identification of the cause of death. Despite recent attempts to broaden its scope, the term remains typically reserved to sudden unexplained death in young adults. In this study, we aim to showcase the utility of molecular autopsy in defining lethal variants in humans.

Methods: We describe our experience with a cohort of 481 cases in whom the cause of premature death was investigated using DNA from the index or relatives (molecular autopsy by proxy). Molecular autopsy tool was typically exome sequencing although some were investigated using targeted approaches in the earlier stages of the study; these include positional mapping, targeted gene sequencing, chromosomal microarray, and gene panels.

Results: The study includes 449 cases from consanguineous families and 141 lacked family history (simplex). The age range was embryos to 18 years. A likely causal variant (pathogenic/likely pathogenic) was identified in 63.8% (307/481), a much higher yield compared to the general diagnostic yield (43%) from the same population. The predominance of recessive lethal alleles allowed us to implement molecular autopsy by proxy in 55 couples, and the yield was similarly high (63.6%). We also note the occurrence of biallelic lethal forms of typically non-lethal dominant disorders, sometimes representing a novel bona fide biallelic recessive disease trait. Forty-six disease genes with no OMIM phenotype were identified in the course of this study. The presented data support the candidacy of two other previously reported novel disease genes (FAAH2 and MSN). The focus on lethal phenotypes revealed many examples of interesting phenotypic expansion as well as remarkable variability in clinical presentation. Furthermore, important insights into population genetics and variant interpretation are highlighted based on the results.

Conclusions: Molecular autopsy, broadly defined, proved to be a helpful clinical approach that provides unique insights into lethal variants and the clinical annotation of the human genome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-021-00973-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8511862PMC
October 2021

PLXNA2 as a candidate gene in patients with intellectual disability.

Am J Med Genet A 2021 12 29;185(12):3859-3865. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Intellectual disability (ID) is one of the most common disabilities in humans. In an effort to contribute to the expanding genetic landscape of ID, we describe a novel autosomal recessive ID candidate gene. Combined autozygome/exome analysis was performed in two unrelated consanguineous families with ID. Each of the two families had a novel homozygous likely deleterious variant in PLXNA2 and displayed the core phenotype of ID. PLXNA2 belongs to a family of transmembrane proteins that function as semaphorin receptors. Sema5A-PlexinA2 is known to regulate brain development in mouse, and Plxna2-/- mice display defective associative learning, sociability, and sensorimotor gating. We note the existence of variability in the phenotype among the three patients, including the existence of variable degree of ID, ranging from borderline intellectual functioning to moderate-severe ID, and the presence of cardiac anomalies in only one of the patients. We propose incomplete penetrance as a possible explanation of the observed difference in phenotypes. Future cases will be needed to support the proposed link between PLXNA2 and ID in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.62440DOI Listing
December 2021

Exploiting the Autozygome to Support Previously Published Mendelian Gene-Disease Associations: An Update.

Front Genet 2020 31;11:580484. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

There is a growing interest in standardizing gene-disease associations for the purpose of facilitating the proper classification of variants in the context of Mendelian diseases. One key line of evidence is the independent observation of pathogenic variants in unrelated individuals with similar phenotypes. Here, we expand on our previous effort to exploit the power of autozygosity to produce homozygous pathogenic variants that are otherwise very difficult to encounter in the homozygous state due to their rarity. The identification of such variants in genes with only tentative associations to Mendelian diseases can add to the existing evidence when observed in the context of compatible phenotypes. In this study, we report 20 homozygous variants in 18 genes (, and ) that satisfy the ACMG classification for pathogenic/likely pathogenic if the involved genes had confirmed rather than tentative links to diseases. These variants were selected because they were truncating, founder with compelling segregation or supported by robust functional assays as with the variant that we present its validation using yeast model. Our findings support the previously reported disease associations for these genes and represent a step toward their confirmation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2020.580484DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7806527PMC
December 2020

A genomics approach to male infertility.

Genet Med 2020 12 28;22(12):1967-1975. Epub 2020 Jul 28.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: Male infertility remains poorly understood at the molecular level. We aimed in this study to investigate the yield of a "genomics first" approach to male infertility.

Methods: Patients with severe oligospermia and nonobstructive azoospermia were investigated using exome sequencing (ES) in parallel with the standard practice of chromosomal analysis.

Results: In 285 patients, 10.5% (n = 30) had evidence of chromosomal aberrations while nearly a quarter (n = 69; 24.2%) had a potential monogenic form of male infertility. The latter ranged from variants in genes previously reported to cause male infertility with or without other phenotypes in humans (24 patients; 8.4%) to those in novel candidate genes reported in this study (37 patients; 12.9%). The 33 candidate genes have biological links to male germ cell development including compatible mouse knockouts, and a few (TERB1 [CCDC79], PIWIL2, MAGEE2, and ZSWIM7) were found to be independently mutated in unrelated patients in our cohort. We also found that male infertility can be the sole or major phenotypic expression of a number of genes that are known to cause multisystemic manifestations in humans (n = 9 patients; 3.1%).

Conclusion: The standard approach to male infertility overlooks the significant contribution of monogenic causes to this important clinical entity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-020-0916-0DOI Listing
December 2020

Analysis of transcript-deleterious variants in Mendelian disorders: implications for RNA-based diagnostics.

Genome Biol 2020 06 17;21(1):145. Epub 2020 Jun 17.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Background: At least 50% of patients with suspected Mendelian disorders remain undiagnosed after whole-exome sequencing (WES), and the extent to which non-coding variants that are not captured by WES contribute to this fraction is unclear. Whole transcriptome sequencing is a promising supplement to WES, although empirical data on the contribution of RNA analysis to the diagnosis of Mendelian diseases on a large scale are scarce.

Results: Here, we describe our experience with transcript-deleterious variants (TDVs) based on a cohort of 5647 families with suspected Mendelian diseases. We first interrogate all families for which the respective Mendelian phenotype could be mapped to a single locus to obtain an unbiased estimate of the contribution of TDVs at 18.9%. We examine the entire cohort and find that TDVs account for 15% of all "solved" cases. We compare the results of RT-PCR to in silico prediction. Definitive results from RT-PCR are obtained from blood-derived RNA for the overwhelming majority of variants (84.1%), and only a small minority (2.6%) fail analysis on all available RNA sources (blood-, skin fibroblast-, and urine renal epithelial cells-derived), which has important implications for the clinical application of RNA-seq. We also show that RNA analysis can establish the diagnosis in 13.5% of 155 patients who had received "negative" clinical WES reports. Finally, our data suggest a role for TDVs in modulating penetrance even in otherwise highly penetrant Mendelian disorders.

Conclusions: Our results provide much needed empirical data for the impending implementation of diagnostic RNA-seq in conjunction with genome sequencing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13059-020-02053-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7298854PMC
June 2020

The morbid genome of ciliopathies: an update.

Genet Med 2020 06 14;22(6):1051-1060. Epub 2020 Feb 14.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: Ciliopathies are highly heterogeneous clinical disorders of the primary cilium. We aim to characterize a large cohort of ciliopathies phenotypically and molecularly.

Methods: Detailed phenotypic and genomic analysis of patients with ciliopathies, and functional characterization of novel candidate genes.

Results: In this study, we describe 125 families with ciliopathies and show that deleterious variants in previously reported genes, including cryptic splicing variants, account for 87% of cases. Additionally, we further support a number of previously reported candidate genes (BBIP1, MAPKBP1, PDE6D, and WDPCP), and propose nine novel candidate genes (CCDC67, CCDC96, CCDC172, CEP295, FAM166B, LRRC34, TMEM17, TTC6, and TTC23), three of which (LRRC34, TTC6, and TTC23) are supported by functional assays that we performed on available patient-derived fibroblasts. From a phenotypic perspective, we expand the phenomenon of allelism that characterizes ciliopathies by describing novel associations including WDR19-related Stargardt disease and SCLT1- and CEP164-related Bardet-Biedl syndrome.

Conclusion: In this cohort of phenotypically and molecularly characterized ciliopathies, we draw important lessons that inform the clinical management and the diagnostics of this class of disorders as well as their basic biology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-020-0761-1DOI Listing
June 2020

Biallelic Mutations in Tetratricopeptide Repeat Domain 26 (Intraflagellar Transport 56) Cause Severe Biliary Ciliopathy in Humans.

Hepatology 2020 06 20;71(6):2067-2079. Epub 2020 Feb 20.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Background And Aims: The clinical consequences of defective primary cilium (ciliopathies) are characterized by marked phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity. Although fibrocystic liver disease is an established ciliopathy phenotype, severe neonatal cholestasis is rarely recognized as such.

Approach And Results: We describe seven individuals from seven families with syndromic ciliopathy clinical features, including severe neonatal cholestasis (lethal in one and necessitating liver transplant in two). Positional mapping revealed a single critical locus on chromosome 7. Whole-exome sequencing revealed three different homozygous variants in Tetratricopeptide Repeat Domain 26 (TTC26) that fully segregated with the phenotype. TTC26 (intraflagellar transport [IFT] 56/DYF13) is an atypical component of IFT-B complex, and deficiency of its highly conserved orthologs has been consistently shown to cause defective ciliary function in several model organisms. We show that cilia in TTC26-mutated patient cells display variable length and impaired function, as indicated by dysregulated sonic hedgehog signaling, abnormal staining for IFT-B components, and transcriptomic clustering with cells derived from individuals with closely related ciliopathies. We also demonstrate a strong expression of Ttc26 in the embryonic mouse liver in a pattern consistent with its proposed role in the normal development of the intrahepatic biliary system.

Conclusions: In addition to establishing a TTC26-related ciliopathy phenotype in humans, our results highlight the importance of considering ciliopathies in the differential diagnosis of severe neonatal cholestasis even in the absence of more typical features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.30982DOI Listing
June 2020

Biallelic variants in CTU2 cause DREAM-PL syndrome and impair thiolation of tRNA wobble U34.

Hum Mutat 2019 11 29;40(11):2108-2120. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Saudi Arabia.

The wobble position in the anticodon loop of transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) is subject to numerous posttranscriptional modifications. In particular, thiolation of the wobble uridine has been shown to play an important role in codon-anticodon interactions. This modification is catalyzed by a highly conserved CTU1/CTU2 complex, disruption of which has been shown to cause abnormal phenotypes in yeast, worms, and plants. We have previously suggested that a single founder splicing variant in human CTU2 causes a novel multiple congenital anomalies syndrome consisting of dysmorphic facies, renal agenesis, ambiguous genitalia, microcephaly, polydactyly, and lissencephaly (DREAM-PL). In this study, we describe five new patients with DREAM-PL phenotype and whose molecular analysis expands the allelic heterogeneity of the syndrome to five different alleles; four of which predict protein truncation. Functional characterization using patient-derived cells for each of these alleles, as well as the original founder allele; revealed a specific impairment of wobble uridine thiolation in all known thiol-containing tRNAs. Our data establish a recognizable CTU2-linked autosomal recessive syndrome in humans characterized by defective thiolation of the wobble uridine. The potential deleterious consequences for the translational efficiency and fidelity during development as a mechanism for pathogenicity represent an attractive target of future investigations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.23870DOI Listing
November 2019

Biallelic novel missense HHAT variant causes syndromic microcephaly and cerebellar-vermis hypoplasia.

Am J Med Genet A 2019 06 26;179(6):1053-1057. Epub 2019 Mar 26.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

We report two siblings with microcephaly, early infantile onset seizures, and cerebellar vermis hypoplasia, in whom whole exome sequencing revealed a novel homozygous missense (c.770T>C, p.[Leu257Pro]) variant in the hedgehog acyl-transferase gene (HHAT), encoding an enzyme required for the attachment of palmitoyl residues that are critical for multimerization and long and short range hedgehog signaling. There is a report of one family with Nivelon-Nivelon-Mabille syndrome in which HHAT was proposed as the likely candidate gene. The phenotypic overlap with the family we report herein provides further evidence implicating HHAT in cerebellar development and the pathogenesis of this rare spectrum.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.61133DOI Listing
June 2019

Bi-allelic Mutations in FAM149B1 Cause Abnormal Primary Cilium and a Range of Ciliopathy Phenotypes in Humans.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 04 21;104(4):731-737. Epub 2019 Mar 21.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, PO Box 3354, Riyadh 11211, Saudi Arabia; Saudi Human Genome Program, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh 12371, Saudi Arabia; Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Medicine, Alfaisal University, Riyadh 11533, Saudi Arabia. Electronic address:

Ciliopathies are clinical disorders of the primary cilium with widely recognized phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity. In two Arab consanguineous families, we mapped a ciliopathy phenotype that most closely matches Joubert syndrome (hypotonia, developmental delay, typical facies, oculomotor apraxia, polydactyly, and subtle posterior fossa abnormalities) to a single locus in which a founder homozygous truncating variant in FAM149B1 was identified by exome sequencing. We subsequently identified a third Arab consanguineous multiplex family in which the phenotype of Joubert syndrome/oral-facial-digital syndrome (OFD VI) was found to co-segregate with the same founder variant in FAM149B1. Independently, autozygosity mapping and exome sequencing in a consanguineous Turkish family with Joubert syndrome highlighted a different homozygous truncating variant in the same gene. FAM149B1 encodes a protein of unknown function. Mutant fibroblasts were found to have normal ciliogenesis potential. However, distinct cilia-related abnormalities were observed in these cells: abnormal accumulation IFT complex at the distal tips of the cilia, which assumed bulbous appearance, increased length of the primary cilium, and dysregulated SHH signaling. We conclude that FAM149B1 is required for normal ciliary biology and that its deficiency results in a range of ciliopathy phenotypes in humans along the spectrum of Joubert syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.02.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451727PMC
April 2019

The many faces of peroxisomal disorders: Lessons from a large Arab cohort.

Clin Genet 2019 02 18;95(2):310-319. Epub 2018 Dec 18.

Armed Forces Hospital Southern Region, Pediatric Directorate and Genetic Unit Khamis Mushayt, Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia.

Defects in the peroxisomes biogenesis and/or function result in peroxisomal disorders. In this study, we describe the largest Arab cohort to date (72 families) of clinically, biochemically and molecularly characterized patients with peroxisomal disorders. At the molecular level, we identified 43 disease-causing variants, half of which are novel. The founder nature of many of the variants allowed us to calculate the minimum disease burden for these disorders in our population ~1:30 000, which is much higher than previous estimates in other populations. Clinically, we found an interesting trend toward genotype/phenotype correlation in terms of long-term survival. Nearly half (40/75) of our peroxisomal disorders patients had documented survival beyond 1 year of age. Most unusual among the long-term survivors was a multiplex family in which the affected members presented as adults with non-specific intellectual disability and epilepsy. Other unusual presentations included the very recently described peroxisomal fatty acyl-CoA reductase 1 disorder as well as CRD, spastic paraparesis, white matter (CRSPW) syndrome. We conclude that peroxisomal disorders are highly heterogeneous in their clinical presentation. Our data also confirm the demonstration that milder forms of Zellweger spectrum disorders cannot be ruled out by the "gold standard" very long chain fatty acids assay, which highlights the value of a genomics-first approach in these cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.13481DOI Listing
February 2019

ARL3 Mutations Cause Joubert Syndrome by Disrupting Ciliary Protein Composition.

Am J Hum Genet 2018 10 27;103(4):612-620. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, International Centre for Life, Central Parkway, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3BZ, UK; Renal Services, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN, UK. Electronic address:

Joubert syndrome (JBTS) is a genetically heterogeneous autosomal-recessive neurodevelopmental ciliopathy. We investigated further the underlying genetic etiology of Joubert syndrome by studying two unrelated families in whom JBTS was not associated with pathogenic variants in known JBTS-associated genes. Combined autozygosity mapping of both families highlighted a candidate locus on chromosome 10 (chr10: 101569997-109106128, UCSC Genome Browser hg 19), and exome sequencing revealed two missense variants in ARL3 within the candidate locus. The encoded protein, ADP ribosylation factor-like GTPase 3 (ARL3), is a small GTP-binding protein that is involved in directing lipid-modified proteins into the cilium in a GTP-dependent manner. Both missense variants replace the highly conserved Arg149 residue, which we show to be necessary for the interaction with its guanine nucleotide exchange factor ARL13B, such that the mutant protein is associated with reduced INPP5E and NPHP3 localization in cilia. We propose that ARL3 provides a potential hub in the network of proteins implicated in ciliopathies, whereby perturbation of ARL3 leads to the mislocalization of multiple ciliary proteins as a result of abnormal displacement of lipidated protein cargo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.08.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174286PMC
October 2018

Genomic and phenotypic delineation of congenital microcephaly.

Genet Med 2019 03 14;21(3):545-552. Epub 2018 Sep 14.

Department of Pediatrics, Prince Sultan Military Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: Congenital microcephaly (CM) is an important birth defect with long term neurological sequelae. We aimed to perform detailed phenotypic and genomic analysis of patients with Mendelian forms of CM.

Methods: Clinical phenotyping, targeted or exome sequencing, and autozygome analysis.

Results: We describe 150 patients (104 families) with 56 Mendelian forms of CM. Our data show little overlap with the genetic causes of postnatal microcephaly. We also show that a broad definition of primary microcephaly -as an autosomal recessive form of nonsyndromic CM with severe postnatal deceleration of occipitofrontal circumference-is highly sensitive but has a limited specificity. In addition, we expand the overlap between primary microcephaly and microcephalic primordial dwarfism both clinically (short stature in >52% of patients with primary microcephaly) and molecularly (e.g., we report the first instance of CEP135-related microcephalic primordial dwarfism). We expand the allelic and locus heterogeneity of CM by reporting 37 novel likely disease-causing variants in 27 disease genes, confirming the candidacy of ANKLE2, YARS, FRMD4A, and THG1L, and proposing the candidacy of BPTF, MAP1B, CCNH, and PPFIBP1.

Conclusion: Our study refines the phenotype of CM, expands its genetics heterogeneity, and informs the workup of children born with this developmental brain defect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-018-0140-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6986385PMC
March 2019

Expanding the phenome and variome of skeletal dysplasia.

Genet Med 2018 12 5;20(12):1609-1616. Epub 2018 Apr 5.

Global Eye Care, Specialized Medical Center Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: To describe our experience with a large cohort (411 patients from 288 families) of various forms of skeletal dysplasia who were molecularly characterized.

Methods: Detailed phenotyping and next-generation sequencing (panel and exome).

Results: Our analysis revealed 224 pathogenic/likely pathogenic variants (54 (24%) of which are novel) in 123 genes with established or tentative links to skeletal dysplasia. In addition, we propose 5 genes as candidate disease genes with suggestive biological links (WNT3A, SUCO, RIN1, DIP2C, and PAN2). Phenotypically, we note that our cohort spans 36 established phenotypic categories by the International Skeletal Dysplasia Nosology, as well as 18 novel skeletal dysplasia phenotypes that could not be classified under these categories, e.g., the novel C3orf17-related skeletal dysplasia. We also describe novel phenotypic aspects of well-known disease genes, e.g., PGAP3-related Toriello-Carey syndrome-like phenotype. We note a strong founder effect for many genes in our cohort, which allowed us to calculate a minimum disease burden for the autosomal recessive forms of skeletal dysplasia in our population (7.16E-04), which is much higher than the global average.

Conclusion: By expanding the phenotypic, allelic, and locus heterogeneity of skeletal dysplasia in humans, we hope our study will improve the diagnostic rate of patients with these conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/gim.2018.50DOI Listing
December 2018

Mutations of KIF14 cause primary microcephaly by impairing cytokinesis.

Ann Neurol 2017 Oct 14;82(4):562-577. Epub 2017 Oct 14.

Cologne Center for Genomics, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.

Objective: Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH) is a rare condition characterized by a reduced cerebral cortex accompanied with intellectual disability. Mutations in 17 genes have been shown to cause this phenotype. Recently, mutations in CIT, encoding CRIK (citron rho-interacting kinase)-a component of the central spindle matrix-were added. We aimed at identifying novel MCPH-associated genes and exploring their functional role in pathogenesis.

Methods: Linkage analysis and whole exome sequencing were performed in consanguineous and nonconsanguineous MCPH families to identify disease-causing variants. Functional consequences were investigated by RNA studies and on the cellular level using immunofluorescence and microscopy.

Results: We identified homozygous mutations in KIF14 (NM_014875.2;c.263T>A;pLeu88*, c.2480_2482delTTG; p.Val827del, and c.4071G>A;p.Gln1357=) as the likely cause in 3 MCPH families. Furthermore, in a patient presenting with a severe form of primary microcephaly and short stature, we identified compound heterozygous missense mutations in KIF14 (NM_014875.2;c.2545C>G;p.His849Asp and c.3662G>T;p.Gly1221Val). Three of the 5 identified mutations impaired splicing, and 2 resulted in a truncated protein. Intriguingly, Kif14 knockout mice also showed primary microcephaly. Human kinesin-like protein KIF14, a microtubule motor protein, localizes at the midbody to finalize cytokinesis by interacting with CRIK. We found impaired localization of both KIF14 and CRIK at the midbody in patient-derived fibroblasts. Furthermore, we observed a large number of binucleated and apoptotic cells-signs of failed cytokinesis that we also observed in experimentally KIF14-depleted cells.

Interpretation: Our data corroborate the role of an impaired cytokinesis in the etiology of primary and syndromic microcephaly, as has been proposed by recent findings on CIT mutations. Ann Neurol 2017;82:562-577.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25044DOI Listing
October 2017

Molecular autopsy in maternal-fetal medicine.

Genet Med 2018 04 20;20(4):420-427. Epub 2017 Jul 20.

Cologne Center for Genomics, University of Cologne, Köln, Germany.

PurposeThe application of genomic sequencing to investigate unexplained death during early human development, a form of lethality likely enriched for severe Mendelian disorders, has been limited.MethodsIn this study, we employed exome sequencing as a molecular autopsy tool in a cohort of 44 families with at least one death or lethal fetal malformation at any stage of in utero development. Where no DNA was available from the fetus, we performed molecular autopsy by proxy, i.e., through parental testing.ResultsPathogenic or likely pathogenic variants were identified in 22 families (50%), and variants of unknown significance were identified in further 15 families (34%). These variants were in genes known to cause embryonic or perinatal lethality (ALPL, GUSB, SLC17A5, MRPS16, THSD1, PIEZO1, and CTSA), genes known to cause Mendelian phenotypes that do not typically include embryonic lethality (INVS, FKTN, MYBPC3, COL11A2, KRIT1, ASCC1, NEB, LZTR1, TTC21B, AGT, KLHL41, GFPT1, and WDR81) and genes with no established links to human disease that we propose as novel candidates supported by embryonic lethality of their orthologs or other lines of evidence (MS4A7, SERPINA11, FCRL4, MYBPHL, PRPF19, VPS13D, KIAA1109, MOCS3, SVOPL, FEN1, HSPB11, KIF19, and EXOC3L2).ConclusionOur results suggest that molecular autopsy in pregnancy losses is a practical and high-yield alternative to traditional autopsy, and an opportunity for bringing precision medicine to the clinical practice of perinatology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/gim.2017.111DOI Listing
April 2018

The genetic landscape of familial congenital hydrocephalus.

Ann Neurol 2017 Jun;81(6):890-897

Departments of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Objective: Congenital hydrocephalus is an important birth defect, the genetics of which remains incompletely understood. To date, only 4 genes are known to cause Mendelian diseases in which congenital hydrocephalus is the main or sole clinical feature, 2 X-linked (L1CAM and AP1S2) and 2 autosomal recessive (CCDC88C and MPDZ). In this study, we aimed to determine the genetic etiology of familial congenital hydrocephalus with the assumption that these cases represent Mendelian forms of the disease.

Methods: Exome sequencing combined, where applicable, with positional mapping.

Results: We identified a likely causal mutation in the majority of these families (21 of 27, 78%), spanning 16 genes, none of which is X-linked. Ciliopathies and dystroglycanopathies were the most common etiologies of congenital hydrocephalus in our cohort (19% and 26%, respectively). In 1 family with 4 affected members, we identified a homozygous truncating variant in EML1, which we propose as a novel cause of congenital hydrocephalus in addition to its suggested role in cortical malformation. Similarly, we show that recessive mutations in WDR81, previously linked to cerebellar ataxia, mental retardation, and disequilibrium syndrome 2, cause severe congenital hydrocephalus. Furthermore, we confirm the previously reported candidacy of MPDZ by presenting a phenotypic spectrum of congenital hydrocephalus associated with 5 recessive alleles.

Interpretation: Our study highlights the importance of recessive mutations in familial congenital hydrocephalus and expands the locus heterogeneity of this condition. Ann Neurol 2017;81:890-897.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.24964DOI Listing
June 2017

Characterizing the morbid genome of ciliopathies.

Genome Biol 2016 11 28;17(1):242. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Division of Experimental Ophthalmology and Medical Bioanalytics, Center for Ophthalmology, Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen, 72076, Tübingen, Germany.

Background: Ciliopathies are clinically diverse disorders of the primary cilium. Remarkable progress has been made in understanding the molecular basis of these genetically heterogeneous conditions; however, our knowledge of their morbid genome, pleiotropy, and variable expressivity remains incomplete.

Results: We applied genomic approaches on a large patient cohort of 371 affected individuals from 265 families, with phenotypes that span the entire ciliopathy spectrum. Likely causal mutations in previously described ciliopathy genes were identified in 85% (225/265) of the families, adding 32 novel alleles. Consistent with a fully penetrant model for these genes, we found no significant difference in their "mutation load" beyond the causal variants between our ciliopathy cohort and a control non-ciliopathy cohort. Genomic analysis of our cohort further identified mutations in a novel morbid gene TXNDC15, encoding a thiol isomerase, based on independent loss of function mutations in individuals with a consistent ciliopathy phenotype (Meckel-Gruber syndrome) and a functional effect of its deficiency on ciliary signaling. Our study also highlighted seven novel candidate genes (TRAPPC3, EXOC3L2, FAM98C, C17orf61, LRRCC1, NEK4, and CELSR2) some of which have established links to ciliogenesis. Finally, we show that the morbid genome of ciliopathies encompasses many founder mutations, the combined carrier frequency of which accounts for a high disease burden in the study population.

Conclusions: Our study increases our understanding of the morbid genome of ciliopathies. We also provide the strongest evidence, to date, in support of the classical Mendelian inheritance of Bardet-Biedl syndrome and other ciliopathies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13059-016-1099-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5126998PMC
November 2016

Mutations in CIT, encoding citron rho-interacting serine/threonine kinase, cause severe primary microcephaly in humans.

Hum Genet 2016 10 8;135(10):1191-7. Epub 2016 Aug 8.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Primary microcephaly is a clinical phenotype in which the head circumference is significantly reduced at birth due to abnormal brain development, primarily at the cortical level. Despite the marked genetic heterogeneity, most primary microcephaly-linked genes converge on mitosis regulation. Two consanguineous families segregating the phenotype of severe primary microcephaly, spasticity and failure to thrive had overlapping autozygomes in which exome sequencing identified homozygous splicing variants in CIT that segregate with the phenotype within each family. CIT encodes citron, an effector of the Rho signaling that is required for cytokinesis specifically in proliferating neuroprogenitors, as well as for postnatal brain development. In agreement with the critical role assigned to the kinase domain in effecting these biological roles, we show that both splicing variants predict variable disruption of this domain. The striking phenotypic overlap between CIT-mutated individuals and the knockout mice and rats that are specifically deficient in the kinase domain supports the proposed causal link between CIT mutation and primary microcephaly in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-016-1722-2DOI Listing
October 2016

A homozygous truncating mutation in PUS3 expands the role of tRNA modification in normal cognition.

Hum Genet 2016 07 7;135(7):707-13. Epub 2016 Apr 7.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Intellectual disability is a common and highly heterogeneous disorder etiologically. In a multiplex consanguineous family, we applied autozygosity mapping and exome sequencing and identified a novel homozygous truncating mutation in PUS3 that fully segregates with the intellectual disability phenotype. Consistent with the known role of Pus3 in isomerizing uracil to pseudouridine at positions 38 and 39 in tRNA, we found a significant reduction in this post-transcriptional modification of tRNA in patient cells. Our finding adds to a growing list of intellectual disability disorders that are caused by perturbation of various tRNA modifications, which highlights the sensitivity of the brain to these highly conserved processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-016-1665-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5152754PMC
July 2016

Accelerating matchmaking of novel dysmorphology syndromes through clinical and genomic characterization of a large cohort.

Genet Med 2016 07 3;18(7):686-95. Epub 2015 Dec 3.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: Dysmorphology syndromes are among the most common referrals to clinical genetics specialists. Inability to match the dysmorphology pattern to a known syndrome can pose a major diagnostic challenge. With an aim to accelerate the establishment of new syndromes and their genetic etiology, we describe our experience with multiplex consanguineous families that appeared to represent novel autosomal recessive dysmorphology syndromes at the time of evaluation.

Methods: Combined autozygome/exome analysis of multiplex consanguineous families with apparently novel dysmorphology syndromes.

Results: Consistent with the apparent novelty of the phenotypes, our analysis revealed a strong candidate variant in genes that were novel at the time of the analysis in the majority of cases, and 10 of these genes are published here for the first time as novel candidates (CDK9, NEK9, ZNF668, TTC28, MBL2, CADPS, CACNA1H, HYAL2, CTU2, and C3ORF17). A significant minority of the phenotypes (6/31, 19%), however, were caused by genes known to cause Mendelian phenotypes, thus expanding the phenotypic spectrum of the diseases linked to these genes. The conspicuous inheritance pattern and the highly specific phenotypes appear to have contributed to the high yield (90%) of plausible molecular diagnoses in our study cohort.

Conclusion: Reporting detailed clinical and genomic analysis of a large series of apparently novel dysmorphology syndromes will likely lead to a trend to accelerate the establishment of novel syndromes and their underlying genes through open exchange of data for the benefit of patients, their families, health-care providers, and the research community.Genet Med 18 7, 686-695.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/gim.2015.147DOI Listing
July 2016
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