Am J Hum Genet 2015 May 9;96(5):816-25. Epub 2015 Apr 9.
Dipartimento di Ematologia, Oncologia e Medicina Molecolare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, 00161 Italy; Polo di Ricerca - Malattie rare, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù IRCSS, Rome, 00146 Italy. Electronic address:
Transcription factors operate in developmental processes to mediate inductive events and cell competence, and perturbation of their function or regulation can dramatically affect morphogenesis, organogenesis, and growth. We report that a narrow spectrum of amino-acid substitutions within the transactivation domain of the v-maf avian musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homolog (MAF), a leucine zipper-containing transcription factor of the AP1 superfamily, profoundly affect development. Seven different de novo missense mutations involving conserved residues of the four GSK3 phosphorylation motifs were identified in eight unrelated individuals. The distinctive clinical phenotype, for which we propose the eponym Aymé-Gripp syndrome, is not limited to lens and eye defects as previously reported for MAF/Maf loss of function but includes sensorineural deafness, intellectual disability, seizures, brachycephaly, distinctive flat facial appearance, skeletal anomalies, mammary gland hypoplasia, and reduced growth. Disease-causing mutations were demonstrated to impair proper MAF phosphorylation, ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation, perturbed gene expression in primary skin fibroblasts, and induced neurodevelopmental defects in an in vivo model. Our findings nosologically and clinically delineate a previously poorly understood recognizable multisystem disorder, provide evidence for MAF governing a wider range of developmental programs than previously appreciated, and describe a novel instance of protein dosage effect severely perturbing development.