Publications by authors named "Simone Martinelli"

37 Publications

Compound heterozygosity for PTPN11 variants in a subject with Noonan syndrome provides insights into the mechanism of SHP2-related disorders.

Clin Genet 2021 Mar 4;99(3):457-461. Epub 2021 Jan 4.

Department of Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

The RASopathies are a family of clinically related disorders caused by mutations affecting genes participating in the RAS-MAPK signaling cascade. Among them, Noonan syndrome (NS) and Noonan syndrome with multiple lentigines (NSML) are allelic conditions principally associated with dominant mutations in PTPN11, which encodes the nonreceptor SH2 domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP2. Individual PTPN11 mutations are specific to each syndrome and have opposite consequences on catalysis, but all favor SHP2's interaction with signaling partners. Here, we report on a subject with NS harboring biallelic variants in PTPN11. While the former (p.Leu261Phe) had previously been reported in NS, the latter (p.Thr357Met) is a novel change impairing catalysis. Members of the family carrying p.Thr357Met, however, did not show any obvious feature fitting NSML or within the RASopathy phenotypic spectrum. A major impact of this change on transcript processing and protein stability was excluded. These findings further support the view that NSML cannot be ascribed merely to impaired SHP2's catalytic activity and suggest that PTPN11 mutations causing this condition act through an alternative dominant mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.13904DOI Listing
March 2021

Functional analysis of variants and their proximal interactomes implicates impaired kinase activity and chromatin maintenance defects in their pathogenesis.

J Med Genet 2020 Dec 15. Epub 2020 Dec 15.

Department of Medical Sciences, University of Turin, Torino, Italy

Introduction: The Tousled-like kinases 1 and 2 (TLK1 and TLK2) are involved in many fundamental processes, including DNA replication, cell cycle checkpoint recovery and chromatin remodelling. Mutations in were recently associated with 'Mental Retardation Autosomal Dominant 57' (MRD57, MIM# 618050), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by a highly variable phenotype, including mild-to-moderate intellectual disability, behavioural abnormalities, facial dysmorphisms, microcephaly, epilepsy and skeletal anomalies.

Methods: We re-evaluate whole exome sequencing and array-CGH data from a large cohort of patients affected by neurodevelopmental disorders. Using spatial proteomics (BioID) and single-cell gel electrophoresis, we investigated the proximity interaction landscape of and analysed the effects of p.(Asp551Gly) and a previously reported missense variant (c.1850C>T; p.(Ser617Leu)) on TLK2 interactions, localisation and activity.

Results: We identified three new unrelated MRD57 families. Two were sporadic and caused by a missense change (c.1652A>G; p.(Asp551Gly)) or a 39 kb deletion encompassing , and one was familial with three affected siblings who inherited a nonsense change from an affected mother (c.1423G>T; p.(Glu475Ter)). The clinical phenotypes were consistent with those of previously reported cases. The tested mutations strongly impaired kinase activity. Proximal interactions between TLK2 and other factors implicated in neurological disorders, including CHD7, CHD8, BRD4 and NACC1, were identified. Finally, we demonstrated a more relaxed chromatin state in lymphoblastoid cells harbouring the p.(Asp551Gly) variant compared with control cells, conferring susceptibility to DNA damage.

Conclusion: Our study identified novel pathogenic variants, confirming and further expanding the MRD57-related phenotype. The molecular characterisation of missense variants increases our knowledge about TLK2 function and provides new insights into its role in neurodevelopmental disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2020-107281DOI Listing
December 2020

Biallelic mutations in the gene cause a novel primary ciliopathy.

J Med Genet 2020 Aug 3. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Clinical Genetics Unit, Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

Background: Dysfunction in non-motile cilia is associated with a broad spectrum of developmental disorders characterised by clinical heterogeneity. While over 100 genes have been associated with primary ciliopathies, with wide phenotypic overlap, some patients still lack a molecular diagnosis.

Objective: To investigate and functionally characterise the molecular cause of a malformation disorder observed in two sibling fetuses characterised by microphthalmia, cleft lip and palate, and brain anomalies.

Methods: A trio-based whole exome sequencing (WES) strategy was used to identify candidate variants in the gene. In silico, in vitro and in vivo () studies were carried out to explore the impact of mutations on protein structure and function, and relevant biological processes.

Results: encodes a member of the Crescerin1 family of proteins regulating microtubule dynamics. Its orthologue in , , is expressed in a subset of sensory neurons and localises in the dendritic cilium where it is required for chemosensation. Nematode lines harbouring the corresponding missense variant in were generated by CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Although chemotaxis ability on a NaCl gradient was not affected, point mutants displayed impaired lipophilic dye uptake, with shorter and altered cilia in sensory neurons. Finally, in vitro analysis of microtubule polymerisation in the presence of wild-type or mutant TOG2 domain revealed a faster polymerisation associated with the mutant protein, suggesting aberrant tubulin binding.

Conclusions: Our data are in favour of a causative role of variants in the pathogenesis of this novel disorder, connecting this gene with primary ciliopathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2020-106833DOI Listing
August 2020

Enhanced MAPK1 Function Causes a Neurodevelopmental Disorder within the RASopathy Clinical Spectrum.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 09 27;107(3):499-513. Epub 2020 Jul 27.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Magdeburg, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.

Signal transduction through the RAF-MEK-ERK pathway, the first described mitogen-associated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade, mediates multiple cellular processes and participates in early and late developmental programs. Aberrant signaling through this cascade contributes to oncogenesis and underlies the RASopathies, a family of cancer-prone disorders. Here, we report that de novo missense variants in MAPK1, encoding the mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (i.e., extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 2, ERK2), cause a neurodevelopmental disease within the RASopathy phenotypic spectrum, reminiscent of Noonan syndrome in some subjects. Pathogenic variants promote increased phosphorylation of the kinase, which enhances translocation to the nucleus and boosts MAPK signaling in vitro and in vivo. Two variant classes are identified, one of which directly disrupts binding to MKP3, a dual-specificity protein phosphatase negatively regulating ERK function. Importantly, signal dysregulation driven by pathogenic MAPK1 variants is stimulus reliant and retains dependence on MEK activity. Our data support a model in which the identified pathogenic variants operate with counteracting effects on MAPK1 function by differentially impacting the ability of the kinase to interact with regulators and substrates, which likely explains the minor role of these variants as driver events contributing to oncogenesis. After nearly 20 years from the discovery of the first gene implicated in Noonan syndrome, PTPN11, the last tier of the MAPK cascade joins the group of genes mutated in RASopathies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.06.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7477014PMC
September 2020

Co-occurring WARS2 and CHRNA6 mutations in a child with a severe form of infantile parkinsonism.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2020 03 15;72:75-79. Epub 2020 Feb 15.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy; IRCCS Neuromed, Pozzilli, IS, Italy.

Objective: To investigate the molecular cause(s) underlying a severe form of infantile-onset parkinsonism and characterize functionally the identified variants.

Methods: A trio-based whole exome sequencing (WES) approach was used to identify the candidate variants underlying the disorder. In silico modeling, and in vitro and in vivo studies were performed to explore the impact of these variants on protein function and relevant cellular processes.

Results: WES analysis identified biallelic variants in WARS2, encoding the mitochondrial tryptophanyl tRNA synthetase (mtTrpRS), a gene whose mutations have recently been associated with multiple neurological phenotypes, including childhood-onset, levodopa-responsive or unresponsive parkinsonism in a few patients. A substantial reduction of mtTrpRS levels in mitochondria and reduced OXPHOS function was demonstrated, supporting their pathogenicity. Based on the infantile-onset and severity of the phenotype, additional variants were considered as possible genetic modifiers. Functional assessment of a selected panel of candidates pointed to a de novo missense mutation in CHRNA6, encoding the α6 subunit of neuronal nicotinic receptors, which are involved in the cholinergic modulation of dopamine release in the striatum, as a second event likely contributing to the phenotype. In silico, in vitro (Xenopus oocytes and GH4C1 cells) and in vivo (C. elegans) analyses demonstrated the disruptive effects of the mutation on acetylcholine receptor structure and function.

Conclusion: Our findings consolidate the association between biallelic WARS2 mutations and movement disorders, and suggest CHRNA6 as a genetic modifier of the phenotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2020.02.003DOI Listing
March 2020

Pathogenic PTPN11 variants involving the poly-glutamine Gln -Gln -Gln stretch highlight the relevance of helix B in SHP2's functional regulation.

Hum Mutat 2020 06 11;41(6):1171-1182. Epub 2020 Mar 11.

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital of Magdeburg, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Magdeburg, Germany.

Germline PTPN11 mutations cause Noonan syndrome (NS), the most common disorder among RASopathies. PTPN11 encodes SHP2, a protein tyrosine-phosphatase controlling signaling through the RAS-MAPK and PI3K-AKT pathways. Generally, NS-causing PTPN11 mutations are missense changes destabilizing the inactive conformation of the protein or enhancing its binding to signaling partners. Here, we report on two PTPN11 variants resulting in the deletion or duplication of one of three adjacent glutamine residues (Gln -to-Gln ). While p.(Gln257dup) caused a typical NS phenotype in carriers of a first family, p.(Gln257del) had incomplete penetrance in a second family. Missense mutations involving Gln had previously been reported in NS. This poly-glutamine stretch is located on helix B of the PTP domain, a region involved in stabilizing SHP2 in its autoinhibited state. Molecular dynamics simulations predicted that changes affecting this motif perturb the SHP2's catalytically inactive conformation and/or substrate recognition. Biochemical data showed that duplication and deletion of Gln variably enhance SHP2's catalytic activity, while missense changes involving Gln affect substrate specificity. Expression of mutants in HEK293T cells documented their activating role on MAPK signaling, uncoupling catalytic activity and modulation of intracellular signaling. These findings further document the relevance of helix B in the regulation of SHP2's function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.24007DOI Listing
June 2020

Frameshift mutations at the C-terminus of HIST1H1E result in a specific DNA hypomethylation signature.

Clin Epigenetics 2020 01 7;12(1). Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Genetics and Rare Diseases Research Division, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, IRCCS, 00146, Rome, Italy.

Background: We previously associated HIST1H1E mutations causing Rahman syndrome with a specific genome-wide methylation pattern.

Results: Methylome analysis from peripheral blood samples of six affected subjects led us to identify a specific hypomethylated profile. This "episignature" was enriched for genes involved in neuronal system development and function. A computational classifier yielded full sensitivity and specificity in detecting subjects with Rahman syndrome. Applying this model to a cohort of undiagnosed probands allowed us to reach diagnosis in one subject.

Conclusions: We demonstrate an epigenetic signature in subjects with Rahman syndrome that can be used to reach molecular diagnosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-019-0804-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6947958PMC
January 2020

A novel disorder involving dyshematopoiesis, inflammation, and HLH due to aberrant CDC42 function.

J Exp Med 2019 12 10;216(12):2778-2799. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

Baylor-Hopkins Center for Mendelian Genomics, Houston, TX.

Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is characterized by immune dysregulation due to inadequate restraint of overactivated immune cells and is associated with a variable clinical spectrum having overlap with more common pathophysiologies. HLH is difficult to diagnose and can be part of inflammatory syndromes. Here, we identify a novel hematological/autoinflammatory condition (NOCARH syndrome) in four unrelated patients with superimposable features, including neonatal-onset cytopenia with dyshematopoiesis, autoinflammation, rash, and HLH. Patients shared the same de novo mutation (Chr1:22417990C>T, p.R186C) and altered hematopoietic compartment, immune dysregulation, and inflammation. mutations had been associated with syndromic neurodevelopmental disorders. In vitro and in vivo assays documented unique effects of p.R186C on CDC42 localization and function, correlating with the distinctiveness of the trait. Emapalumab was critical to the survival of one patient, who underwent successful bone marrow transplantation. Early recognition of the disorder and establishment of treatment followed by bone marrow transplant are important to survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20190147DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6888978PMC
December 2019

Aberrant Function of the C-Terminal Tail of HIST1H1E Accelerates Cellular Senescence and Causes Premature Aging.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 09 22;105(3):493-508. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pretoria, Weskoppies Hospital, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa.

Histones mediate dynamic packaging of nuclear DNA in chromatin, a process that is precisely controlled to guarantee efficient compaction of the genome and proper chromosomal segregation during cell division and to accomplish DNA replication, transcription, and repair. Due to the important structural and regulatory roles played by histones, it is not surprising that histone functional dysregulation or aberrant levels of histones can have severe consequences for multiple cellular processes and ultimately might affect development or contribute to cell transformation. Recently, germline frameshift mutations involving the C-terminal tail of HIST1H1E, which is a widely expressed member of the linker histone family and facilitates higher-order chromatin folding, have been causally linked to an as-yet poorly defined syndrome that includes intellectual disability. We report that these mutations result in stable proteins that reside in the nucleus, bind to chromatin, disrupt proper compaction of DNA, and are associated with a specific methylation pattern. Cells expressing these mutant proteins have a dramatically reduced proliferation rate and competence, hardly enter into the S phase, and undergo accelerated senescence. Remarkably, clinical assessment of a relatively large cohort of subjects sharing these mutations revealed a premature aging phenotype as a previously unrecognized feature of the disorder. Our findings identify a direct link between aberrant chromatin remodeling, cellular senescence, and accelerated aging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.07.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6731364PMC
September 2019

Biallelic mutations in early-onset, variably progressive neurodegeneration.

Neurology 2018 07 29;91(4):e319-e330. Epub 2018 Jun 29.

From the Genetics and Rare Diseases Research Division (V.M., G.C., T.R., M.D.N., A.C., F.P., R.C., M.T.), Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù; Department of Oncology and Molecular Medicine (E.F., S.M.) and Confocal Microscopy Unit (S.C.), Core Facilities, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy; Center for Human Disease Modeling (Z.K., M.M.K., N.K.), Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC; Institutes of Neurology (G.P., S.S.) and Nuclear Medicine (D.D.G.), Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli, Rome, Italy; Department of Genetics (H.G., N.M.), Faculty of Science, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz; Narges Medical Genetics and Prenatal Diagnosis Laboratory (H.G., N.M., A. Sedaghat, J.Z., G.R.S.), Kianpars, Ahvaz; Research and Clinical Center for Infertility (M.D.), Yazd Reproductive Sciences Institute, Medical Genetics Research Centre (M.D., M.Y.V.M.), and Department of Medical Genetics (M.Y.V.M.), Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, Iran; Department of Experimental Medicine (A.T., V.C.), Università "Sapienza," Rome, Italy; Genetics and Molecular Cell Sciences Research Centre (Y.J., R.M.), St. George's University of London, UK; Department of Paediatric Neurology (R.A.M.), Golestan Medical, Educational, and Research Center, and Department of Medical Genetics (G.R.S.), Faculty of Medicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Iran; University of Exeter Medical School (A.R.J.), RILD, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, UK; and Department of Neurology (A. Sherafat), Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Iran.

Objective: To characterize clinically and molecularly an early-onset, variably progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a cerebellar syndrome with severe ataxia, gaze palsy, dyskinesia, dystonia, and cognitive decline affecting 11 individuals from 3 consanguineous families.

Methods: We used whole-exome sequencing (WES) (families 1 and 2) and a combined approach based on homozygosity mapping and WES (family 3). We performed in vitro studies to explore the effect of the nontruncating mutation on protein function and the effect of impaired SQSTM1 function on autophagy. We analyzed the consequences of sqstm1 down-modulation on the structural integrity of the cerebellum in vivo using zebrafish as a model.

Results: We identified 3 homozygous inactivating variants, including a splice site substitution (c.301+2T>A) causing aberrant transcript processing and accelerated degradation of a resulting protein lacking exon 2, as well as 2 truncating changes (c.875_876insT and c.934_936delinsTGA). We show that loss of SQSTM1 causes impaired production of ubiquitin-positive protein aggregates in response to misfolded protein stress and decelerated autophagic flux. The consequences of sqstm1 down-modulation on the structural integrity of the cerebellum in zebrafish documented a variable but reproducible phenotype characterized by cerebellum anomalies ranging from depletion of axonal connections to complete atrophy. We provide a detailed clinical characterization of the disorder; the natural history is reported for 2 siblings who have been followed up for >20 years.

Conclusions: This study offers an accurate clinical characterization of this recently recognized neurodegenerative disorder caused by biallelic inactivating mutations in and links this phenotype to defective selective autophagy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000005869DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6070386PMC
July 2018

Clinical Presentation and Natural History of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in RASopathies.

Heart Fail Clin 2018 Apr;14(2):225-235

Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Sapienza University, Viale Regina Elena 324, Rome 00161, Italy.

RASopathies are a heterogeneous group of genetic syndromes characterized by mutations in genes that regulate cellular processes, including proliferation, differentiation, survival, migration, and metabolism. Excluding congenital heart defects, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most frequent cardiovascular defect in patients affected by RASopathies. A worse outcome (in terms of surgical risk and/or mortality) has been described in a specific subset of Rasopathy patients with early onset, severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy presenting with heart failure. New short-term therapy with a mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor has recently been used to prevent heart failure in these patients with a severe form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.hfc.2017.12.005DOI Listing
April 2018

Functional Dysregulation of CDC42 Causes Diverse Developmental Phenotypes.

Am J Hum Genet 2018 02 25;102(2):309-320. Epub 2018 Jan 25.

GeneDX, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, USA.

Exome sequencing has markedly enhanced the discovery of genes implicated in Mendelian disorders, particularly for individuals in whom a known clinical entity could not be assigned. This has led to the recognition that phenotypic heterogeneity resulting from allelic mutations occurs more commonly than previously appreciated. Here, we report that missense variants in CDC42, a gene encoding a small GTPase functioning as an intracellular signaling node, underlie a clinically heterogeneous group of phenotypes characterized by variable growth dysregulation, facial dysmorphism, and neurodevelopmental, immunological, and hematological anomalies, including a phenotype resembling Noonan syndrome, a developmental disorder caused by dysregulated RAS signaling. In silico, in vitro, and in vivo analyses demonstrate that mutations variably perturb CDC42 function by altering the switch between the active and inactive states of the GTPase and/or affecting CDC42 interaction with effectors, and differentially disturb cellular and developmental processes. These findings reveal the remarkably variable impact that dominantly acting CDC42 mutations have on cell function and development, creating challenges in syndrome definition, and exemplify the importance of functional profiling for syndrome recognition and delineation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.12.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5985417PMC
February 2018

High Rate of Recurrent De Novo Mutations in Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathies.

Am J Hum Genet 2017 Nov;101(5):664-685

Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, St. Mary's Hospital, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester M13 9WL, UK.

Developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) is a group of conditions characterized by the co-occurrence of epilepsy and intellectual disability (ID), typically with developmental plateauing or regression associated with frequent epileptiform activity. The cause of DEE remains unknown in the majority of cases. We performed whole-genome sequencing (WGS) in 197 individuals with unexplained DEE and pharmaco-resistant seizures and in their unaffected parents. We focused our attention on de novo mutations (DNMs) and identified candidate genes containing such variants. We sought to identify additional subjects with DNMs in these genes by performing targeted sequencing in another series of individuals with DEE and by mining various sequencing datasets. We also performed meta-analyses to document enrichment of DNMs in candidate genes by leveraging our WGS dataset with those of several DEE and ID series. By combining these strategies, we were able to provide a causal link between DEE and the following genes: NTRK2, GABRB2, CLTC, DHDDS, NUS1, RAB11A, GABBR2, and SNAP25. Overall, we established a molecular diagnosis in 63/197 (32%) individuals in our WGS series. The main cause of DEE in these individuals was de novo point mutations (53/63 solved cases), followed by inherited mutations (6/63 solved cases) and de novo CNVs (4/63 solved cases). De novo missense variants explained a larger proportion of individuals in our series than in other series that were primarily ascertained because of ID. Moreover, these DNMs were more frequently recurrent than those identified in ID series. These observations indicate that the genetic landscape of DEE might be different from that of ID without epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.09.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5673604PMC
November 2017

Structural, Functional, and Clinical Characterization of a Novel PTPN11 Mutation Cluster Underlying Noonan Syndrome.

Hum Mutat 2017 04 7;38(4):451-459. Epub 2017 Feb 7.

Genetics and Rare Diseases Research Division, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Germline mutations in PTPN11, the gene encoding the Src-homology 2 (SH2) domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase (SHP2), cause Noonan syndrome (NS), a relatively common, clinically variable, multisystem disorder. Here, we report on the identification of five different PTPN11 missense changes affecting residues Leu , Leu , and Arg in 16 unrelated individuals with clinical diagnosis of NS or with features suggestive for this disorder, specifying a novel disease-causing mutation cluster. Expression of the mutant proteins in HEK293T cells documented their activating role on MAPK signaling. Structural data predicted a gain-of-function role of substitutions at residues Leu and Arg exerted by disruption of the N-SH2/PTP autoinhibitory interaction. Molecular dynamics simulations suggested a more complex behavior for changes affecting Leu , with possible impact on SHP2's catalytic activity/selectivity and proper interaction of the PTP domain with the regulatory SH2 domains. Consistent with that, biochemical data indicated that substitutions at codons 262 and 265 increased the catalytic activity of the phosphatase, while those affecting codon 261 were only moderately activating but impacted substrate specificity. Remarkably, these mutations underlie a relatively mild form of NS characterized by low prevalence of cardiac defects, short stature, and cognitive and behavioral issues, as well as less evident typical facial features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.23175DOI Listing
April 2017

Activating Mutations Affecting the Dbl Homology Domain of SOS2 Cause Noonan Syndrome.

Hum Mutat 2015 Nov 3;36(11):1080-7. Epub 2015 Aug 3.

Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Rome, 00165, Italy.

The RASopathies constitute a family of autosomal-dominant disorders whose major features include facial dysmorphism, cardiac defects, reduced postnatal growth, variable cognitive deficits, ectodermal and skeletal anomalies, and susceptibility to certain malignancies. Noonan syndrome (NS), the commonest RASopathy, is genetically heterogeneous and caused by functional dysregulation of signal transducers and regulatory proteins with roles in the RAS/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signal transduction pathway. Mutations in known disease genes account for approximately 80% of affected individuals. Here, we report that missense mutations altering Son of Sevenless, Drosophila, homolog 2 (SOS2), which encodes a RAS guanine nucleotide exchange factor, occur in a small percentage of subjects with NS. Four missense mutations were identified in five unrelated sporadic cases and families transmitting NS. Disease-causing mutations affected three conserved residues located in the Dbl homology (DH) domain, of which two are directly involved in the intramolecular binding network maintaining SOS2 in its autoinhibited conformation. All mutations were found to promote enhanced signaling from RAS to ERK. Similar to NS-causing SOS1 mutations, the phenotype associated with SOS2 defects is characterized by normal development and growth, as well as marked ectodermal involvement. Unlike SOS1 mutations, however, those in SOS2 are restricted to the DH domain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.22834DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604019PMC
November 2015

Molecular Diversity and Associated Phenotypic Spectrum of Germline CBL Mutations.

Hum Mutat 2015 Aug 1;36(8):787-96. Epub 2015 Jun 1.

Dipartimento di Ematologia, Oncologia e Medicina Molecolare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

Noonan syndrome (NS) is a relatively common developmental disorder with a pleomorphic phenotype. Mutations causing NS alter genes encoding proteins involved in the RAS-MAPK pathway. We and others identified Casitas B-lineage lymphoma proto-oncogene (CBL), which encodes an E3-ubiquitin ligase acting as a tumor suppressor in myeloid malignancies, as a disease gene underlying a condition clinically related to NS. Here, we further explored the spectrum of germline CBL mutations and their associated phenotype. CBL mutation scanning performed on 349 affected subjects with features overlapping NS and no mutation in NS genes allowed the identification of five different variants with pathological significance. Among them, two splice-site changes, one in-frame deletion, and one missense mutation affected the RING domain and/or the adjacent linker region, overlapping cancer-associated defects. A novel nonsense mutation generating a v-Cbl-like protein able to enhance signal flow through RAS was also identified. Genotype-phenotype correlation analysis performed on available records indicated that germline CBL mutations cause a variable phenotype characterized by a relatively high frequency of neurological features, predisposition to juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, and low prevalence of cardiac defects, reduced growth, and cryptorchidism. Finally, we excluded a major contribution of two additional members of the CBL family, CBLB and CBLC, to NS and related disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.22809DOI Listing
August 2015

A PTPN11 allele encoding a catalytically impaired SHP2 protein in a patient with a Noonan syndrome phenotype.

Am J Med Genet A 2014 Sep 28;164A(9):2351-5. Epub 2014 May 28.

Department of Pediatrics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York; Mindich Child Health and Development Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.

The RASopathies are a relatively common group of phenotypically similar and genetically related autosomal dominant genetic syndromes caused by missense mutations affecting genes participating in the RAS/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway that include Noonan syndrome (NS) and Noonan syndrome with multiple lentigines (NSML, formerly LEOPARD syndrome). NS and NSML can be difficult to differentiate during infancy, but the presence of multiple lentigines, café au lait spots, and specific cardiac defects facilitate the diagnosis. Furthermore, individual PTPN11 missense mutations are highly specific to each syndrome and engender opposite biochemical alterations on the function of SHP-2, the protein product of that gene. Here, we report on a 5-year-old male with two de novo PTPN11 mutations in cis, c.1471C>T (p.Pro491Ser), and c.1492C>T (p.Arg498Trp), which are associated with NS and NSML, respectively. This boy's phenotype is intermediate between NS and NSML with facial dysmorphism, short stature, mild global developmental delay, pulmonic stenosis, and deafness but absence of café au lait spots or lentigines. The double-mutant SHP-2 was found to be catalytically impaired. This raises the question of whether clinical differences between NS and NSML can be ascribed solely to the relative SHP-2 catalytic activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.36620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4134745PMC
September 2014

Activating mutations in RRAS underlie a phenotype within the RASopathy spectrum and contribute to leukaemogenesis.

Hum Mol Genet 2014 Aug 4;23(16):4315-27. Epub 2014 Apr 4.

Genetica Clinica Pediatrica, Clinica Pediatrica Università Milano Bicocca, Fondazione MBBM, A.O. S. Gerardo, Monza 20900, Italy.

RASopathies, a family of disorders characterized by cardiac defects, defective growth, facial dysmorphism, variable cognitive deficits and predisposition to certain malignancies, are caused by constitutional dysregulation of RAS signalling predominantly through the RAF/MEK/ERK (MAPK) cascade. We report on two germline mutations (p.Gly39dup and p.Val55Met) in RRAS, a gene encoding a small monomeric GTPase controlling cell adhesion, spreading and migration, underlying a rare (2 subjects among 504 individuals analysed) and variable phenotype with features partially overlapping Noonan syndrome, the most common RASopathy. We also identified somatic RRAS mutations (p.Gly39dup and p.Gln87Leu) in 2 of 110 cases of non-syndromic juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia, a childhood myeloproliferative/myelodysplastic disease caused by upregulated RAS signalling, defining an atypical form of this haematological disorder rapidly progressing to acute myeloid leukaemia. Two of the three identified mutations affected known oncogenic hotspots of RAS genes and conferred variably enhanced RRAS function and stimulus-dependent MAPK activation. Expression of an RRAS mutant homolog in Caenorhabditis elegans enhanced RAS signalling and engendered protruding vulva, a phenotype previously linked to the RASopathy-causing SHOC2(S2G) mutant. Overall, these findings provide evidence of a functional link between RRAS and MAPK signalling and reveal an unpredicted role of enhanced RRAS function in human disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddu148DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103678PMC
August 2014

Counteracting effects operating on Src homology 2 domain-containing protein-tyrosine phosphatase 2 (SHP2) function drive selection of the recurrent Y62D and Y63C substitutions in Noonan syndrome.

J Biol Chem 2012 Aug 18;287(32):27066-77. Epub 2012 Jun 18.

Dipartimento di Ematologia, Oncologia e Medicina Molecolare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Activating mutations in PTPN11 cause Noonan syndrome, the most common nonchromosomal disorder affecting development and growth. PTPN11 encodes SHP2, an Src homology 2 (SH2) domain-containing protein-tyrosine phosphatase that positively modulates RAS function. Here, we characterized functionally all possible amino acid substitutions arising from single-base changes affecting codons 62 and 63 to explore the molecular mechanisms lying behind the largely invariant occurrence of the Y62D and Y63C substitutions recurring in Noonan syndrome. We provide structural and biochemical data indicating that the autoinhibitory interaction between the N-SH2 and protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) domains is perturbed in both mutants as a result of an extensive structural rearrangement of the N-SH2 domain. Most mutations affecting Tyr(63) exerted an unpredicted disrupting effect on the structure of the N-SH2 phosphopeptide-binding cleft mediating the interaction of SHP2 with signaling partners. Among all the amino acid changes affecting that codon, the disease-causing mutation was the only substitution that perturbed the stability of the inactive conformation of SHP2 without severely impairing proper phosphopeptide binding of N-SH2. On the other hand, the disruptive effect of the Y62D change on the autoinhibited conformation of the protein was balanced, in part, by less efficient binding properties of the mutant. Overall, our data demonstrate that the selection-by-function mechanism acting as driving force for PTPN11 mutations affecting codons 62 and 63 implies balancing of counteracting effects operating on the allosteric control of the function of SHP2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M112.350231DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3411048PMC
August 2012

Application of a domicile-based exercise program for shoulder rehabilitation after breast cancer surgery.

Rev Lat Am Enfermagem 2012 Jan-Feb;20(1):35-43

Departamento de Ginecologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, SP, Brazil.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an exercise program for the recuperation of the range of motion (ROM) of the shoulder. This is a quasi-experimental study developed at the Mastology Outpatient Clinic of the Federal University of São Paulo - Brazil, from August 2006 to June 2008, with 64 breast cancer patients undergoing surgery. The intervention consisted of: preoperative evaluation of the ROM, verbal and written guidance, demonstration and implementation of the exercises and revaluation at the outpatient follow-up appointments until the 105(th) postoperative day (PO). From the 7(th) PO a significant increase was observed in the ROM, which continued until the 105(th) PO. The minimum time for recovery was 105 days for the women undergoing mastectomy, and 75 days for those undergoing quadrantectomy. There was satisfactory adherence of 78.6% of the women. The domicile program was effective for the recovery of ROM in the study population, benefiting women who can not attend a presential program.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/s0104-11692012000100006DOI Listing
August 2012

Efficient one-step chromatographic purification and functional characterization of recombinant human Saposin C.

Protein Expr Purif 2011 Aug 2;78(2):209-15. Epub 2011 Apr 2.

Department of Haematology, Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Saposin (Sap) C is a small lysosomal disulfide bridge-containing glycoprotein required for glucosylceramide (GC) hydrolysis by glucosylceramidase (GCase). Sap C deficiency causes a variant form of Gaucher disease (GD), a rare genetic disorder characterized by GC accumulation in lysosomes of monocyte/macrophage lineage. Efforts to develop fast and efficient methodologies to express and purify Sap C have been made in the last years. Here, human Sap C was expressed in a bacterial strain that greatly enhances disulfide bond formation, and the recombinant protein was purified in a single chromatographic step using an affinity tag-based protein purification system. Mass spectrometry analysis demonstrated that disulfide bridges required for Sap C stability and functionality were retained. Consistently, the recombinant protein was shown to interact with anionic phospholipids-containing vesicles, and reconstitute GCase activity in vitro. Recombinant Sap C was efficiently endocytosed by Sap C-deficient fibroblasts, and targeted to lysosomes. These findings document that the bacterially purified Sap C exerts biological properties functionally equivalent to those observed for the native protein, indicating its potential use in the development of therapeutic intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pep.2011.03.015DOI Listing
August 2011

Heterozygous germline mutations in the CBL tumor-suppressor gene cause a Noonan syndrome-like phenotype.

Am J Hum Genet 2010 Aug 8;87(2):250-7. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

Dipartimento di Ematologia, Oncologia e Medicina Molecolare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

RAS signaling plays a key role in controlling appropriate cell responses to extracellular stimuli and participates in early and late developmental processes. Although enhanced flow through this pathway has been established as a major contributor to oncogenesis, recent discoveries have revealed that aberrant RAS activation causes a group of clinically related developmental disorders characterized by facial dysmorphism, a wide spectrum of cardiac disease, reduced growth, variable cognitive deficits, ectodermal and musculoskeletal anomalies, and increased risk for certain malignancies. Here, we report that heterozygous germline mutations in CBL, a tumor-suppressor gene that is mutated in myeloid malignancies and encodes a multivalent adaptor protein with E3 ubiquitin ligase activity, can underlie a phenotype with clinical features fitting or partially overlapping Noonan syndrome (NS), the most common condition of this disease family. Independent CBL mutations were identified in two sporadic cases and two families from among 365 unrelated subjects who had NS or suggestive features and were negative for mutations in previously identified disease genes. Phenotypic heterogeneity and variable expressivity were documented. Mutations were missense changes altering evolutionarily conserved residues located in the RING finger domain or the linker connecting this domain to the N-terminal tyrosine kinase binding domain, a known mutational hot spot in myeloid malignancies. Mutations were shown to affect CBL-mediated receptor ubiquitylation and dysregulate signal flow through RAS. These findings document that germline mutations in CBL alter development to cause a clinically variable condition that resembles NS and that possibly predisposes to malignancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.06.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917705PMC
August 2010

Mutation of SHOC2 promotes aberrant protein N-myristoylation and causes Noonan-like syndrome with loose anagen hair.

Nat Genet 2009 Sep 16;41(9):1022-6. Epub 2009 Aug 16.

Dipartimento di Ematologia, Oncologia e Medicina Molecolare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

N-myristoylation is a common form of co-translational protein fatty acylation resulting from the attachment of myristate to a required N-terminal glycine residue. We show that aberrantly acquired N-myristoylation of SHOC2, a leucine-rich repeat-containing protein that positively modulates RAS-MAPK signal flow, underlies a clinically distinctive condition of the neuro-cardio-facial-cutaneous disorders family. Twenty-five subjects with a relatively consistent phenotype previously termed Noonan-like syndrome with loose anagen hair (MIM607721) shared the 4A>G missense change in SHOC2 (producing an S2G amino acid substitution) that introduces an N-myristoylation site, resulting in aberrant targeting of SHOC2 to the plasma membrane and impaired translocation to the nucleus upon growth factor stimulation. Expression of SHOC2(S2G) in vitro enhanced MAPK activation in a cell type-specific fashion. Induction of SHOC2(S2G) in Caenorhabditis elegans engendered protruding vulva, a neomorphic phenotype previously associated with aberrant signaling. These results document the first example of an acquired N-terminal lipid modification of a protein causing human disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.425DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2765465PMC
September 2009

RAS signaling dysregulation in human embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Genes Chromosomes Cancer 2009 Nov;48(11):975-82

Department of Hematology, Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a common childhood solid tumor, resulting from dysregulation of the skeletal myogenesis program. Two major histological subtypes occur in childhood RMS, embryonal and alveolar. While chromosomal rearrangements account for the majority of alveolar tumors, the genetic defects underlying the pathogenesis of embryonal RMS remain largely undetermined. A few studies performed on small series of embryonal tumors suggest that dysregulation of RAS function may be relevant to disease pathogenesis. To explore further the biological and clinical relevance of mutations with perturbing consequences on RAS signaling in embryonal RMS, we investigated the prevalence of PTPN11, HRAS, KRAS, NRAS, BRAF, MEK1, and MEK2 mutations in a relatively large cohort of primary tumors. While HRAS and KRAS were found to be rarely mutated, we identified somatic NRAS lesions in 20% of cases. All mutations were missense and affected codon 61, with the introduction of a positive charged amino acid residue representing the most common event. PTPN11 was found mutated in one tumor specimen, confirming that somatic defects in this gene are relatively uncommon in RMS, while no mutation was observed in BRAF and MEK genes. Although no clear association of mutations with any clinical variable was observed, comparison of the outcome between mutation-positive and mutation-negative cases indicated a trend for a higher percentage of patients exhibiting a better outcome in the former. Our findings provide evidence that dysregulation of RAS signaling is a major event contributing to embryonal RMS pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gcc.20702DOI Listing
November 2009

Spectrum of MEK1 and MEK2 gene mutations in cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome and genotype-phenotype correlations.

Eur J Hum Genet 2009 Jun 21;17(6):733-40. Epub 2009 Jan 21.

IRCCS-Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, San Giovanni Rotondo e Istituto CSS-Mendel, Rome, Italy.

Cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome (CFCS) is a rare disease characterized by mental retardation, facial dysmorphisms, ectodermal abnormalities, heart defects and developmental delay. CFCS is genetically heterogeneous and mutations in the KRAS, BRAF, MAP2K1 (MEK1) and MAP2K2 (MEK2) genes, encoding for components of the RAS-mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, have been identified in up to 90% of cases. Here we screened a cohort of 33 individuals with CFCS for MEK1 and MEK2 gene mutations to further explore their molecular spectrum in this disorder, and to analyze genotype-phenotype correlations. Three MEK1 and two MEK2 mutations were detected in six patients. Two missense MEK1 (L42F and Y130H) changes and one in-frame MEK2 (K63_E66del) deletion had not been reported earlier. All mutations were localized within exon 2 or 3. Together with the available records, the present data document that MEK1 mutations are relatively more frequent than those in MEK2, with exons 2 and 3 being mutational hot spots in both genes. Mutational analysis of the affected MEK1 and MEK2 exons did not reveal occurrence of mutations among 75 patients with Noonan syndrome, confirming the low prevalence of MEK gene defects in this disorder. Clinical review of known individuals with MEK1/MEK2 mutations suggests that these patients show dysmorphic features, ectodermal abnormalities and cognitive deficit similar to what was observed in BRAF-mutated patients and in the general CFCS population. Conversely, congenital heart defects, particularly mitral valve and septal defects, and ocular anomalies seem to be less frequent among MEK1/MEK2 mutation-positive patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2008.256DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947095PMC
June 2009

Diverse driving forces underlie the invariant occurrence of the T42A, E139D, I282V and T468M SHP2 amino acid substitutions causing Noonan and LEOPARD syndromes.

Hum Mol Genet 2008 Jul 27;17(13):2018-29. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare e Neuroscienze, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Missense PTPN11 mutations cause Noonan and LEOPARD syndromes (NS and LS), two developmental disorders with pleiomorphic phenotypes. PTPN11 encodes SHP2, an SH2 domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase functioning as a signal transducer. Generally, different substitutions of a particular amino acid residue are observed in these diseases, indicating that the crucial factor is the residue being replaced. For a few codons, only one substitution is observed, suggesting the possibility of specific roles for the residue introduced. We analyzed the biochemical behavior and ligand-binding properties of all possible substitutions arising from single-base changes affecting codons 42, 139, 279, 282 and 468 to investigate the mechanisms underlying the invariant occurrence of the T42A, E139D and I282V substitutions in NS and the Y279C and T468M changes in LS. Our data demonstrate that the isoleucine-to-valine change at codon 282 is the only substitution at that position perturbing the stability of SHP2's closed conformation without impairing catalysis, while the threonine-to-alanine change at codon 42, but not other substitutions of that residue, promotes increased phosphopeptide-binding affinity. The recognition specificity of the C-SH2 domain bearing the E139D substitution differed substantially from its wild-type counterpart acquiring binding properties similar to those observed for the N-SH2 domain, revealing a novel mechanism of SHP2's functional dysregulation. Finally, while functional selection does not seem to occur for the substitutions at codons 279 and 468, we point to deamination of the methylated cytosine at nucleotide 1403 as the driving factor leading to the high prevalence of the T468M change in LS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddn099DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900904PMC
July 2008

Somatically acquired JAK1 mutations in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

J Exp Med 2008 Apr 24;205(4):751-8. Epub 2008 Mar 24.

Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare e Neuroscienze, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, 00161, Italy.

Aberrant signal transduction contributes substantially to leukemogenesis. The Janus kinase 1 (JAK1) gene encodes a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase that noncovalently associates with a variety of cytokine receptors and plays a nonredundant role in lymphoid cell precursor proliferation, survival, and differentiation. We report that somatic mutations in JAK1 occur in individuals with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). JAK1 mutations were more prevalent among adult subjects with the T cell precursor ALL, where they accounted for 18% of cases, and were associated with advanced age at diagnosis, poor response to therapy, and overall prognosis. All mutations were missense, and some were predicted to destabilize interdomain interactions controlling the activity of the kinase. Three mutations that were studied promoted JAK1 gain of function and conferred interleukin (IL)-3-independent growth in Ba/F3 cells and/or IL-9-independent resistance to dexamethasone-induced apoptosis in T cell lymphoma BW5147 cells. Such effects were associated with variably enhanced activation of multiple downstream signaling pathways. Leukemic cells with mutated JAK1 alleles shared a gene expression signature characterized by transcriptional up-regulation of genes positively controlled by JAK signaling. Our findings implicate dysregulated JAK1 function in ALL, particularly of T cell origin, and point to this kinase as a target for the development of novel antileukemic drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20072182DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2292215PMC
April 2008

Gain-of-function RAF1 mutations cause Noonan and LEOPARD syndromes with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Nat Genet 2007 Aug 1;39(8):1007-12. Epub 2007 Jul 1.

Center for Molecular Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, New York 10029, USA.

Noonan and LEOPARD syndromes are developmental disorders with overlapping features, including cardiac abnormalities, short stature and facial dysmorphia. Increased RAS signaling owing to PTPN11, SOS1 and KRAS mutations causes approximately 60% of Noonan syndrome cases, and PTPN11 mutations cause 90% of LEOPARD syndrome cases. Here, we report that 18 of 231 individuals with Noonan syndrome without known mutations (corresponding to 3% of all affected individuals) and two of six individuals with LEOPARD syndrome without PTPN11 mutations have missense mutations in RAF1, which encodes a serine-threonine kinase that activates MEK1 and MEK2. Most mutations altered a motif flanking Ser259, a residue critical for autoinhibition of RAF1 through 14-3-3 binding. Of 19 subjects with a RAF1 mutation in two hotspots, 18 (or 95%) showed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), compared with the 18% prevalence of HCM among individuals with Noonan syndrome in general. Ectopically expressed RAF1 mutants from the two HCM hotspots had increased kinase activity and enhanced ERK activation, whereas non-HCM-associated mutants were kinase impaired. Our findings further implicate increased RAS signaling in pathological cardiomyocyte hypertrophy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng2073DOI Listing
August 2007