Eur J Med Genet 2019 Aug 15:103736. Epub 2019 Aug 15.
Division of Genetics and Genomic Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA. Electronic address:
Deletions and duplications involving the CNTN4 gene, which encodes for the contactin 4 protein, have been reported in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental phenotypes. In this study, we performed clinical and genetic characterization of three individuals from unrelated families with copy number variants (CNV) (one deletion and two duplications) within CNTN4. The patients exhibited cognitive delay (3/3), growth restriction (3/3), motor delay (2/3), and febrile seizure/epilepsy (2/3). In contrast to previous reports, all probands presented with speech apraxia or delay with no diagnosis of ASD. Parental studies for the proband with the deletion and one of the 2 probands with the duplication revealed paternal origin of the CNTN4 CNV. Interestingly, previously documented CNV involving this gene were mostly inherited from unaffected fathers, raising questions regarding reduced penetrance and potential parent-of-origin effect. Our findings are compared with previously reported patients and patients in the DECIPHER database. The speech impairment in the three probands suggests a role for CNTN4 in language development. We discuss potential factors contributing to phenotypic heterogeneity and reduced penetrance and attempt to find possible genotype-phenotype correlation. Larger cohorts are needed for comprehensive and unbiased phenotyping and molecular characterization that may lead to better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of reduced penetrance, variable expressivity, and potential parent-of-origin effect of copy number variants encompassing CNTN4.