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1.  Positive and Negative Regulation of Gli Activity by Kif7 in the Zebrafish Embryo 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(12):e1003955.
Loss of function mutations of Kif7, the vertebrate orthologue of the Drosophila Hh pathway component Costal2, cause defects in the limbs and neural tubes of mice, attributable to ectopic expression of Hh target genes. While this implies a functional conservation of Cos2 and Kif7 between flies and vertebrates, the association of Kif7 with the primary cilium, an organelle absent from most Drosophila cells, suggests their mechanisms of action may have diverged. Here, using mutant alleles induced by Zinc Finger Nuclease-mediated targeted mutagenesis, we show that in zebrafish, Kif7 acts principally to suppress the activity of the Gli1 transcription factor. Notably, we find that endogenous Kif7 protein accumulates not only in the primary cilium, as previously observed in mammalian cells, but also in cytoplasmic puncta that disperse in response to Hh pathway activation. Moreover, we show that Drosophila Costal2 can substitute for Kif7, suggesting a conserved mode of action of the two proteins. We show that Kif7 interacts with both Gli1 and Gli2a and suggest that it functions to sequester Gli proteins in the cytoplasm, in a manner analogous to the regulation of Ci by Cos2 in Drosophila. We also show that zebrafish Kif7 potentiates Gli2a activity by promoting its dissociation from the Suppressor of Fused (Sufu) protein and present evidence that it mediates a Smo dependent modification of the full length form of Gli2a. Surprisingly, the function of Kif7 in the zebrafish embryo appears restricted principally to mesodermal derivatives, its inactivation having little effect on neural tube patterning, even when Sufu protein levels are depleted. Remarkably, zebrafish lacking all Kif7 function are viable, in contrast to the peri-natal lethality of mouse kif7 mutants but similar to some Acrocallosal or Joubert syndrome patients who are homozygous for loss of function KIF7 alleles.
Author Summary
Hedgehog (Hh) proteins activate one of a handful of signaling pathways that orchestrate the development of animal embryos, controlling cell type specification, proliferation and survival in a variety of contexts. In Drosophila, the Cos2 protein plays a key role in modulating the response of cells to Hh signaling, while mutant forms of its human counterpart KIF7 are associated with a class of developmental defects known as ciliopathies. Studies in mouse have implied that Kif7 functions principally in the primary cilium, an organelle required for Hh signaling in vertebrates but absent from most Drosophila cells, suggesting a divergence in the mechanisms of action between phyla. Here we describe the generation of kif7 mutations in the zebrafish as well as the first analysis of endogenous Kif7 protein distribution in a vertebrate embryo. We find that Kif7 acts principally to restrain Gli1 activity and suggest that it functions to sequester the Gli transcription factors, similar to its Drosophila counterpart Cos2, which we also show can partially substitute for Kif7 function in the zebrafish embryo. Consistent with this model we show that Kif7 protein accumulates both in the primary cilia and in cytoplasmic puncta from which it disperses in response to Hh pathway activation.
PMCID: PMC3854788  PMID: 24339784
2.  KIF7 mutations cause fetal hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes 
Nature genetics  2011;43(6):601-606.
KIF7, the human ortholog of Drosophila Costal2, is a key component of the Hedgehog signaling pathway. Here we report mutations in KIF7 in individuals with hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes, two multiple malformation disorders with overlapping features that include polydactyly, brain abnormalities and cleft palate. Consistent with a role of KIF7 in Hedgehog signaling, we show deregulation of most GLI transcription factor targets and impaired GLI3 processing in tissues from individuals with KIF7 mutations. KIF7 is also a likely contributor of alleles across the ciliopathy spectrum, as sequencing of a diverse cohort identified several missense mutations detrimental to protein function. In addition, in vivo genetic interaction studies indicated that knockdown of KIF7 could exacerbate the phenotype induced by knockdown of other ciliopathy transcripts. Our data show the role of KIF7 in human primary cilia, especially in the Hedgehog pathway through the regulation of GLI targets, and expand the clinical spectrum of ciliopathies.
PMCID: PMC3674836  PMID: 21552264
3.  Recessively inherited multiple epiphyseal dysplasia with normal stature, club foot, and double layered patella caused by a DTDST mutation 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1999;36(8):621-624.
We have observed over 25 different mutations in the diastrophic dysplasia sulphate transporter gene (DTDST) in association with the recessive disorders achondrogenesis 1B, atelosteogenesis 2, and diastrophic dysplasia. The c862t (R279W) transition is the most common mutation in non-Finnish patients, but in these disorders it is usually combined with other DTDST mutations. We had not seen a case of homozygosity for c862t (R279W) until we analysed DNA from a 36 year old male with tall-normal stature (180 cm) who asked for genetic counselling for suspected multiple epiphyseal dysplasia. He was treated for club foot and hip dysplasia at birth. Skeletal changes consistent with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, with the peculiar finding of a double layered patella, were recognised during childhood. Cleft palate, swelling of the ear pinna, and hitch hiker thumb were absent. He was found to be homozygous, and both healthy parents heterozygous, for the R279W mutation in DTDST, and his fibroblasts showed a sulphate incorporation defect typical of DTDST disorders. Counselling was given for a recessive disorder, thereby considerably reducing the probability of affected offspring.
  Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia is more frequently caused by dominant mutations in the COMP (EDM1, McKusick 132400) and COL9A2 genes (EDM2, McKusick 600204). A few other patients and families with features similar to our proband have been described previously and considered to have autosomal recessive MED (EDM4, McKusick 226900). This observation confirms the existence of this entity and assigns it to the phenotypic spectrum associated with mutations at the DTDST locus.

Keywords: multiple epiphyseal dysplasia; DTDST; double layered patella
PMCID: PMC1762965  PMID: 10465113
4.  Lack of KIF21A mutations in congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles type I patients from consanguineous Saudi Arabian families 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:218-224.
Congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles type I (CFEOM1), the most common CFEOM worldwide, is characterized by bilateral ptotic hypotropia, an inability to supraduct above the horizontal midline, horizontal strabismus (typically exotropia), and ophthalmoplegia with abnormal synkinesis. This distinct non-syndromic phenotype is considered autosomal dominant and is virtually always from heterozygous missense mutations in kinesin family member 21A (KIF21A). However, there are occasional KIF21A-negative cases, opening the possibility for a recessive cause. The objective of this study is to explore this possibility by assessing CFEOM1 patients exclusively from consanguineous families, who are the most likely to have recessive cause for their phenotype if a recessive cause exists.
Ophthalmic examination and candidate gene direct sequencing (KIF21A, paired-like homeobox 2A [PHOX2A], tubulin beta-3 [TUBB3]) of CFEOM1 patients from consanguineous families referred for counseling from 2005 to 2010.
All 5 probands had classic CFEOM1 as defined above. Three had siblings with CFEOM. None of the probands had mutations in KIF21A, PHOX2A, or TUBB3.
The lack of KIF21A mutations in CFEOM1 patients exclusively from consanguineous families, most of whom had siblings with CFEOM, is strong evidence for a recessive form of CFEOM1. Further studies of such families will hopefully uncover the specific locus(loci).
PMCID: PMC3025099  PMID: 21264235
5.  Localisation of a gene for an autosomal recessive syndrome of macrocephaly, multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, and distinctive facies to chromosome 15q26 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2001;38(6):369-373.
BACKGROUND—We have previously described an autosomal recessive syndrome of macrocephaly, multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (MED), and distinctive facies in a large, extended Omani family. The MED observed seems to be part of a larger malformation syndrome, since both craniofacial and central nervous system changes were present in the family. We performed a whole genome scan in this family in order to identify the gene locus for this malformation syndrome.
METHODS AND RESULTS—Using homozygosity mapping, we show linkage to the telomeric region of the long arm of chromosome 15. The position of both the disease gene and the principal glycoprotein, chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan (aggrecan, AGC1) on chromosome 15q26, suggested that the aggrecan gene is a candidate for the disease in this family. However, three of the four affected children were heterozygous for a polymorphism at position 831 of the coding sequence of AGC1, providing strong evidence against its involvement.
CONCLUSION—We have identified a gene locus for a recessive syndrome of macrocephaly, MED, and distinctive facies in a large Omani family. Aggrecan located on chromosome 15q26, within the critical region determined for this syndrome in this family, was excluded as a candidate gene.

Keywords: macrocephaly; multiple epiphyseal dysplasia; distinctive facies; chromosome 15q26
PMCID: PMC1734894  PMID: 11389160
6.  Novel COL9A3 mutation in a family diagnosed with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia: a case report 
Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia is a common skeletal dysplasia characterized by mild short stature, early-onset osteoarthritis mainly involving the hip and knee joints, and abnormally small and/or irregular epiphyses. Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia is clinically and genetically heterogeneous and six genes are associated with the phenotype of multiple epiphyseal dysplasia.
Case presentation
A 12-year-old Korean boy presented with intermittent knee pain. His height was 144.6 cm (20th percentile) and family history was notable for early-onset osteoarthritis in his father. The proband’s x-rays revealed epiphyseal changes characteristic of multiple epiphyseal dysplasia associated with a collagen IX defect, with manifestations primarily restricted to the knees. Mutational analysis identified a novel c.104G > A substitution in exon 2 of COL9A3, resulting in p.Gly35Asp in the proband and his father. In silico analyses predicted the p.Gly35Asp amino acid change to be detelerious, and molecular dynamics simulation demonstrated a major structural change in the heterotrimeric collagen IX.
So far, three COL9A3 mutations, have been reported. These three mutations are located at the splice donor or acceptor site of COL9A3 and cause skipping of exon 3, resulting in the deletion of 12 aminoacids in the COL3 domain of COL9A3. In contrast, the novel missense mutation identified in this two-generation family with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia is a missense mutation affecting the Gly residue of the Pro-Pro-Gly repeat sequence in the COL3 domain of collage IX, with accompanying major structural change of the collagen peptide.
PMCID: PMC4236474  PMID: 25381065
Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia; COL9A3; Molecular dynamics simulation
7.  Variability of systemic and oro-dental phenotype in two families with non-lethal Raine syndrome with FAM20C mutations 
BMC Medical Genetics  2015;16:8.
Raine syndrome (RS) is a rare autosomal recessive bone dysplasia typified by osteosclerosis and dysmorphic facies due to FAM20C mutations. Initially reported as lethal in infancy, survival is possible into adulthood. We describe the molecular analysis and clinical phenotypes of five individuals from two consanguineous Brazilian families with attenuated Raine Syndrome with previously unreported features.
The medical and dental clinical records were reviewed. Extracted deciduous and permanent teeth as well as oral soft tissues were analysed. Whole exome sequencing was undertaken and FAM20C cDNA sequenced in family 1.
Family 1 included 3 siblings with hypoplastic Amelogenesis Imperfecta (AI) (inherited abnormal dental enamel formation). Mild facial dysmorphism was noted in the absence of other obvious skeletal or growth abnormalities. A mild hypophosphataemia and soft tissue ectopic mineralization were present. A homozygous FAM20C donor splice site mutation (c.784 + 5 g > c) was identified which led to abnormal cDNA sequence. Family 2 included 2 siblings with hypoplastic AI and tooth dentine abnormalities as part of a more obvious syndrome with facial dysmorphism. There was hypophosphataemia, soft tissue ectopic mineralization, but no osteosclerosis. A homozygous missense mutation in FAM20C (c.1487C > T; p.P496L) was identified.
The clinical phenotype of non-lethal Raine Syndrome is more variable, including between affected siblings, than previously described and an adverse impact on bone growth and health may not be a prominent feature. By contrast, a profound failure of dental enamel formation leading to a distinctive hypoplastic AI in all teeth should alert clinicians to the possibility of FAM20C mutations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12881-015-0154-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4422040  PMID: 25928877
Raine syndrome; FAM20C; Amelogenesis imperfecta; Dentine; Bone mineralization; Ectopic mineralisation
8.  A novel mutation in DDR2 causing spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia with short limbs and abnormal calcifications (SMED-SL) results in defective intra-cellular trafficking 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:42.
The rare autosomal genetic disorder, Spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia with short limbs and abnormal calcifications (SMED-SL), is reported to be caused by missense or splice site mutations in the human discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR2) gene. Previously our group has established that trafficking defects and loss of ligand binding are the underlying cellular mechanisms of several SMED-SL causing mutations. Here we report the clinical characteristics of two siblings of consanguineous marriage with suspected SMED-SL and identification of a novel disease-causing mutation in the DDR2 gene.
Clinical evaluation and radiography were performed to evaluate the patients. All the coding exons and splice sites of the DDR2 gene were sequenced by Sanger sequencing. Subcellular localization of the mutated DDR2 protein was determined by confocal microscopy, deglycosylation assay and Western blotting. DDR2 activity was measured by collagen activation and Western analysis.
In addition to the typical features of SMED-SL, one of the patients has an eye phenotype including visual impairment due to optic atrophy. DNA sequencing revealed a novel homozygous dinucleotide deletion mutation (c.2468_2469delCT) on exon 18 of the DDR2 gene in both patients. The mutation resulted in a frameshift leading to an amino acid change at position S823 and a predicted premature termination of translation (p.S823Cfs*2). Subcellular localization of the mutant protein was analyzed in mammalian cell lines, and it was found to be largely retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which was further supported by its N-glycosylation profile. In keeping with its cellular mis-localization, the mutant protein was found to be deficient in collagen-induced receptor activation, suggesting protein trafficking defects as the major cellular mechanism underlying the loss of DDR2 function in our patients.
Our results indicate that the novel mutation results in defective trafficking of the DDR2 protein leading to loss of function and disease. This confirms our previous findings that DDR2 missense mutations occurring at the kinase domain result in retention of the mutant protein in the ER.
PMCID: PMC4001364  PMID: 24725993
DDR2; Spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia; Trafficking defect; SMED-SL; ERAD; Optic atrophy
9.  Mucopolysaccharidosis IVA (Morquio A syndrome) and VI (Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome): under-recognized and challenging to diagnose 
Skeletal Radiology  2014;43(3):359-369.
Mucopolysaccharidosis IVA (MPS IVA, or Morquio A syndrome) and VI (MPS VI, or Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome) are autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorders. Skeletal abnormalities are common initial presenting symptoms and, when recognized early, may facilitate timely diagnosis and intervention, leading to improved patient outcomes. Patients with slowly progressing disease and nonclassic phenotypes can be particularly challenging to diagnose. The objective was to describe the radiographic features of patients with a delayed diagnosis of MPS IVA or VI.
Materials and Methods
This was a retrospective study. The records of 5 MPS IVA and 3 MPS VI patients with delayed diagnosis were reviewed. Radiographs were evaluated by a radiologist with special expertise in skeletal dysplasias.
An important common theme in these cases was the appearance of multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (MED) with epiphyseal changes seemingly confined to the capital (proximal) femoral epiphyses. Very few patients had the skeletal features of classical dysostosis multiplex.
Radiologists should appreciate the wide phenotypic variability of MPS IVA and VI. The cases presented here illustrate the importance of considering MPS in the differential diagnosis of certain skeletal dysplasias/disorders, including MED, some forms of spondylo-epiphyseal dysplasia (SED), and bilateral Perthes-like disease. It is important to combine radiographic findings with clinical information to facilitate early testing and accurate diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3901942  PMID: 24389823
Mucopolysaccharidosis; MPS; Morquio; Morquio A; Maroteaux-Lamy; MPS IVA; MPS VI; Dysostosis multiplex; Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia; MED; Spondylo-epiphyseal dysplasia; SED
10.  Loss of Function Mutation in the Palmitoyl-Transferase HHAT Leads to Syndromic 46,XY Disorder of Sex Development by Impeding Hedgehog Protein Palmitoylation and Signaling 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004340.
The Hedgehog (Hh) family of secreted proteins act as morphogens to control embryonic patterning and development in a variety of organ systems. Post-translational covalent attachment of cholesterol and palmitate to Hh proteins are critical for multimerization and long range signaling potency. However, the biological impact of lipid modifications on Hh ligand distribution and signal reception in humans remains unclear. In the present study, we report a unique case of autosomal recessive syndromic 46,XY Disorder of Sex Development (DSD) with testicular dysgenesis and chondrodysplasia resulting from a homozygous G287V missense mutation in the hedgehog acyl-transferase (HHAT) gene. This mutation occurred in the conserved membrane bound O-acyltransferase (MBOAT) domain and experimentally disrupted the ability of HHAT to palmitoylate Hh proteins such as DHH and SHH. Consistent with the patient phenotype, HHAT was found to be expressed in the somatic cells of both XX and XY gonads at the time of sex determination, and Hhat loss of function in mice recapitulates most of the testicular, skeletal, neuronal and growth defects observed in humans. In the developing testis, HHAT is not required for Sertoli cell commitment but plays a role in proper testis cord formation and the differentiation of fetal Leydig cells. Altogether, these results shed new light on the mechanisms of action of Hh proteins. Furthermore, they provide the first clinical evidence of the essential role played by lipid modification of Hh proteins in human testicular organogenesis and embryonic development.
Author Summary
Disorders of gonadal development represent a clinically and genetically heterogeneous class of DSD caused by defects in gonadal development and/or a failure of testis/ovarian differentiation. Unfortunately, in many cases the genetic aetiology of DSD is unknown, indicating that our knowledge of the factors mediating sex determination is limited. Using exome sequencing on a case of autosomal recessive syndromic 46,XY DSD with testicular dysgenesis and chondrodysplasia, we found a homozygous missense mutation (G287V) within the coding sequence of the O-acetyl-transferase HHAT gene. The HHAT gene encodes an enzyme required for the attachment of palmitoyl residues that are critical for multimerization and long range signaling potency of hedgehog secreted proteins. We found that HHAT is widely expressed in human organs during fetal development, including testes and ovaries around the time of sex determination. In vitro assays show that G287V mutation impairs HHAT palmitoyl-transferase activity and mice lacking functional Hhat exhibit testicular dysgenesis as well as other skeletal, neuronal and growth defects that recapitulate most aspects of the syndromic 46,XY DSD patient. These data provide the first clinical evidence of the essential role played by lipid modification of Hedgehog proteins in human testicular organogenesis and embryonic development.
PMCID: PMC4006744  PMID: 24784881
11.  Focal facial dermal dysplasia, type IV, is caused by mutations in CYP26C1 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(4):696-703.
Focal facial dermal dysplasia (FFDD) Type IV is a rare syndrome characterized by facial lesions resembling aplasia cutis in a preauricular distribution along the line of fusion of the maxillary and mandibular prominences. To identify the causative gene(s), exome sequencing was performed in a family with two affected siblings. Assuming autosomal recessive inheritance, two novel sequence variants were identified in both siblings in CYP26C1—a duplication of seven base pairs, which was maternally inherited, c.844_851dupCCATGCA, predicting p.Glu284fsX128 and a missense mutation, c.1433G>A, predicting p.Arg478His, that was paternally inherited. The duplication predicted a frameshift mutation that led to a premature stop codon and premature chain termination, whereas the missense mutation was not functional based on its in vitro expression in mammalian cells. The FFDD skin lesions arise along the sites of fusion of the maxillary and mandibular prominences early in facial development, and Cyp26c1 was expressed exactly along the fusion line for these facial prominences in the first branchial arch in mice. Sequencing of four additional, unrelated Type IV FFDD patients and eight Type II or III TWIST2-negative FFDD patients revealed that three of the Type IV patients were homozygous for the duplication, whereas none of the Type II or III patients had CYP26C1 mutations. The seven base pairs duplication was present in 0.3% of healthy controls and 0.3% of patients with other birth defects. These findings suggest that the phenotypic manifestations of FFDD Type IV can be non-penetrant or underascertained. Thus, FFDD Type IV results from the loss of function mutations in CYP26C1.
PMCID: PMC3554199  PMID: 23161670
12.  Trafficking defects and loss of ligand binding are the underlying causes of all reported DDR2 missense mutations found in SMED-SL patients 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(11):2239-2250.
Spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia (SMED) with short limbs and abnormal calcifications (SMED-SL) is a rare, autosomal recessive human growth disorder, characterized by disproportionate short stature, short limbs, short broad fingers, abnormal metaphyses and epiphyses, platyspondyly and premature calcifications. Recently, three missense mutations and one splice-site mutation in the DDR2 gene were identified as causative genetic defects for SMED-SL, but the underlying cellular and biochemical mechanisms were not explored. Here we report a novel DDR2 missense mutation, c.337G>A (p.E113K), that causes SMED-SL in two siblings in the United Arab Emirates. Another DDR2 missense mutation, c.2254C>T (p.R752C), matching one of the previously reported SMED-SL mutations, was found in a second affected family. DDR2 is a plasma membrane receptor tyrosine kinase that functions as a collagen receptor. We expressed DDR2 constructs with the identified point mutations in human cell lines and evaluated their localization and functional properties. We found that all SMED-SL missense mutants were defective in collagen-induced receptor activation and that the three previously reported mutants (p.T713I, p.I726R and p.R752C) were retained in the endoplasmic reticulum. The novel mutant (p.E113K), in contrast, trafficked normally, like wild-type DDR2, but failed to bind collagen. This finding is in agreement with our recent structural data identifying Glu113 as an important amino acid in the DDR2 ligand-binding site. Our data thus demonstrate that SMED-SL can result from at least two different loss-of-function mechanisms: namely defects in DDR2 targeting to the plasma membrane or the loss of its ligand-binding activity.
PMCID: PMC2865377  PMID: 20223752
13.  CC2D2A mutations in Meckel and Joubert syndromes indicate a genotype-phenotype correlation 
Human mutation  2009;30(11):1574-1582.
The Meckel syndrome (MKS) is a lethal fetal disorder characterized by diffuse renal cystic dysplasia, polydactyly, a brain malformation that is usually occipital encephalocele and/or vermian agenesis, with intrahepatic biliary duct proliferation. Joubert syndrome (JBS) is a viable neurological disorder with a characteristic “molar tooth sign” (MTS) on axial images reflecting cerebellar vermian hypoplasia/dysplasia. Both conditions are classified as ciliopathies with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Allelism of MS and JBS has been reported for TMEM67/MKS3, CEP290/MKS4, and RPGRIP1L/MKS5. Recently, one homozygous splice mutation with a founder effect was reported in the CC2D2A gene in Finnish fetuses with MKS, defining the 6th locus for MKS. Shortly thereafter, CC2D2A mutations were reported in JBS also. The analysis of the CC2D2A gene in our series of MKS fetuses, identified 14 novel truncating mutations in 11 cases. These results confirm the involvement of CC2D2A in MKS and reveal a major contribution of CC2D2A to the disease. We also identified three missense CC2D2A mutations in two JBS cases. Therefore and in accordance with the data reported regarding RPGRIP1L, our results indicate phenotype-genotype correlations, as missense and presumably hypomorphic mutations lead to JBS while all null alleles lead to MKS.
PMCID: PMC2783384  PMID: 19777577
Meckel-Gruber syndrome; MKS; Joubert syndrome; JBS; CC2D2A; ciliopathy
14.  TRAPPC9-related autosomal recessive intellectual disability: report of a new mutation and clinical phenotype 
Intellectual disability (ID) with autosomal recessive (AR) inheritance is believed to be common; however, very little is known about causative genes and genotype–phenotype correlations. The broad genetic heterogeneity of AR-ID, and its usually nonsyndromic nature make it difficult to pool multiple pedigrees with the same underlying genetic defect to achieve consistent nosology. Nearly all autosomal genes responsible for recessive cognitive disorders have been identified in large consanguineous families from the Middle East, and nonsense mutations in TRAPPC9 have been reported in a total of 5. Although several recurrent phenotypic abnormalities are described in some of these patients, the associated phenotype is usually referred to as nonsyndromic. By means of single-nucleotide polymorphism-array first and then by exome sequencing, we identified a new pathogenic mutation in TRAPPC9 in two Italian sisters born to healthy and apparently nonconsanguineous parents. It consists of a homozygous splice site mutation causing exon skipping with frameshift and premature termination, as confirmed by mRNA sequencing. By detailed phenotypic analysis of our patients, and by critical literature review, we found that homozygous TRAPPC9 loss-of-function mutations cause a distinctive phenotype, characterized by peculiar facial appearance, obesity, hypotonia (all signs resembling a Prader–Willi-like phenotype), moderate-to-severe ID, and consistent brain abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3548258  PMID: 22549410
autosomal recessive intellectual disability;  TRAPPC9 ; exome sequencing
15.  The Greig cephalopolysyndactyly syndrome 
The Greig cephalopolysyndactyly syndrome (GCPS) is a pleiotropic, multiple congenital anomaly syndrome. It is rare, but precise estimates of incidence are difficult to determine, as ascertainment is erratic (estimated range 1–9/1,000,000). The primary findings include hypertelorism, macrocephaly with frontal bossing, and polysyndactyly. The polydactyly is most commonly preaxial of the feet and postaxial in the hands, with variable cutaneous syndactyly, but the limb findings vary significantly. Other low frequency findings include central nervous system (CNS) anomalies, hernias, and cognitive impairment.
GCPS is caused by loss of function mutations in the GLI3 transcription factor gene and is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. The disorder is allelic to the Pallister-Hall syndrome and one form of the acrocallosal syndrome.
Clinical diagnosis is challenging because the findings of GCPS are relatively non-specific, and no specific and sensitive clinical have been delineated. For this reason, we have proposed a combined clinical-molecular definition for the syndrome. A presumptive diagnosis of GCPS can be made if the patient has the classic triad of preaxial polydactyly with cutaneous syndactyly of at least one limb, hypertelorism, and macrocephaly. Patients with a phenotype consistent with GCPS (but which may not manifest all three attributes listed above) and a GLI3 mutation may be diagnosed definitively with GCPS. In addition, persons with a GCPS-consistent phenotype who are related to a definitively diagnosed family member in a pattern consistent with autosomal dominant inheritance may be diagnosed definitively as well. Antenatal molecular diagnosis is technically straightforward to perform.
Differential diagnoses include preaxial polydactyly type 4, the GCPS contiguous gene syndrome, acrocallosal syndrome, Gorlin syndrome, Carpenter syndrome, and Teebi syndrome.
Treatment of the disorder is symptomatic, with plastic or orthopedic surgery indicated for significant limb malformations.
The prognosis for typically affected patients is excellent. There may be a slight increase in the incidence of developmental delay or cognitive impairment. Patients with large deletions that include GLI3 may have a worse prognosis.
The Article is a work of the United States Government. Title 17 U.S.C 5 105 provides that copyright protection is not available for any work of the United States Government in the United States. The United States hereby grants to anyone a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public and perform publicly and display publicly the work, and also retains the nonexclusive right to do all of the above for or on behalf of the United States.
PMCID: PMC2397380  PMID: 18435847
16.  A novel mutation in the sulfate transporter gene SLC26A2 (DTDST) specific to the Finnish population causes de la Chapelle dysplasia 
Journal of medical genetics  2008;45(12):827-831.
Mutations in the sulfate transporter gene SLC26A2 (DTDST) cause a continuum of skeletal dysplasia phenotypes that includes achondrogenesis type 1B (ACG1B), atelosteogenesis type 2 (AO2), diastrophic dysplasia (DTD), and recessive multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (rMED). In 1972, de la Chapelle et al reported two siblings with a lethal skeletal dysplasia, which was denoted “neonatal osseous dysplasia” and “de la Chapelle dysplasia” (DLCD). It was suggested that DLCD might be part of the SLC26A2 spectrum of phenotypes, both because of the Finnish origin of the original family and of radiographic similarities to ACG1B and AO2.
To test the hypothesis whether SLC26A2 mutations are responsible for DLCD.
We studied the DNA from the original DLCD family and from seven Finnish DTD patients in whom we had identified only one copy of IVS1+2T>C, the common Finnish mutation. A novel SLC26A2 mutation was found in all subjects, inserted by site-directed mutagenesis in a vector harbouring the SLC26A2 cDNA, and expressed in sulfate transport deficient Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells to measure sulfate uptake activity.
We identified a hitherto undescribed SLC26A2 mutation, T512K, homozygous in the affected subjects and heterozygous in both parents and in the unaffected sister. T512K was then identified as second pathogenic allele in the seven Finnish DTD subjects. Expression studies confirmed pathogenicity.
DLCD is indeed allelic to the other SLC26A2 disorders. T512K is a second rare “Finnish” mutation that results in DLCD at homozygosity and in DTD when compounded with the milder, common Finnish mutation.
PMCID: PMC4361899  PMID: 18708426
17.  Rothmund-Thomson syndrome 
Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS) is a genodermatosis presenting with a characteristic facial rash (poikiloderma) associated with short stature, sparse scalp hair, sparse or absent eyelashes and/or eyebrows, juvenile cataracts, skeletal abnormalities, radial ray defects, premature aging and a predisposition to cancer. The prevalence is unknown but around 300 cases have been reported in the literature so far. The diagnostic hallmark is facial erythema, which spreads to the extremities but spares the trunk, and which manifests itself within the first year and then develops into poikiloderma. Two clinical subforms of RTS have been defined: RTSI characterised by poikiloderma, ectodermal dysplasia and juvenile cataracts, and RTSII characterised by poikiloderma, congenital bone defects and an increased risk of osteosarcoma in childhood and skin cancer later in life. The skeletal abnormalities may be overt (frontal bossing, saddle nose and congenital radial ray defects), and/or subtle (visible only by radiographic analysis). Gastrointestinal, respiratory and haematological signs have been reported in a few patients. RTS is transmitted in an autosomal recessive manner and is genetically heterogeneous: RTSII is caused by homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations in the RECQL4 helicase gene (detected in 60-65% of RTS patients), whereas the aetiology in RTSI remains unknown. Diagnosis is based on clinical findings (primarily on the age of onset, spreading and appearance of the poikiloderma) and molecular analysis for RECQL4 mutations. Missense mutations are rare, while frameshift, nonsense mutations and splice-site mutations prevail. A fully informative test requires transcript analysis not to overlook intronic deletions causing missplicing. The diagnosis of RTS should be considered in all patients with osteosarcoma, particularly if associated with skin changes. The differential diagnosis should include other causes of childhood poikiloderma (including dyskeratosis congenita, Kindler syndrome and Poikiloderma with Neutropaenia), other rare genodermatoses with prominent telangiectasias (including Bloom syndrome, Werner syndrome and Ataxia-telangiectasia) and the allelic disorders, RAPADILINO syndrome and Baller-Gerold syndrome, which also share some clinical features. A few mutations recur in all three RECQL4 diseases. Genetic counselling should be provided for RTS patients and their families, together with a recommendation for cancer surveillance for all patients with RTSII. Patients should be managed by a multidisciplinary team and offered long term follow-up. Treatment includes the use of pulsed dye laser photocoagulation to improve the telangiectatic component of the rash, surgical removal of the cataracts and standard treatment for individuals who develop cancer. Although some clinical signs suggest precocious aging, life expectancy is not impaired in RTS patients if they do not develop cancer. Outcomes in patients with osteosarcoma are similar in RTS and non-RTS patients, with a five-year survival rate of 60-70%. The sensitivity of RTS cells to genotoxic agents exploiting cells with a known RECQL4 status is being elucidated and is aimed at optimizing the chemotherapeutic regimen for osteosarcoma.
PMCID: PMC2826297  PMID: 20113479
18.  Matrilin-3 Is Dispensable for Mouse Skeletal Growth and Development 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(4):1691-1699.
Matrilin-3 belongs to the matrilin family of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and is primarily expressed in cartilage. Mutations in the gene encoding human matrilin-3 (MATN-3) lead to autosomal dominant skeletal disorders, such as multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (MED), which is characterized by short stature and early-onset osteoarthritis, and bilateral hereditary microepiphyseal dysplasia, a variant form of MED characterized by pain in the hip and knee joints. To assess the function of matrilin-3 during skeletal development, we have generated Matn-3 null mice. Homozygous mutant mice appear normal, are fertile, and show no obvious skeletal malformations. Histological and ultrastructural analyses reveal endochondral bone formation indistinguishable from that of wild-type animals. Northern blot, immunohistochemical, and biochemical analyses indicated no compensatory upregulation of any other member of the matrilin family. Altogether, our findings suggest functional redundancy among matrilins and demonstrate that the phenotypes of MED disorders are not caused by the absence of matrilin-3 in cartilage ECM.
PMCID: PMC344189  PMID: 14749384
19.  A Homozygous Missense Mutation in NEUROD1 Is Associated With Nonsyndromic Autosomal Recessive Retinitis Pigmentosa 
Mutations in the same gene can lead to different clinical phenotypes. In this study, we aim to identify novel genotype–phenotype correlations and novel disease genes by analyzing an unsolved autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (ARRP) Han Chinese family.
Whole exome sequencing was performed for one proband from the consanguineous ARRP family. Stringent variants filtering and prioritizations were applied to identify the causative mutation.
A homozygous missense variant, c.724G>A; p.V242I, in NEUROD1 was identified as the most likely cause of disease. This allele perfectly segregates in the family and affects an amino acid, which is highly conserved among mammals. A previous study showed that a homozygous null allele in NEUROD1 causes severe syndromic disease with neonatal diabetes, systematic neurological abnormalities, and early-onset retinal dystrophy. Consistent with these results, our patients who are homozygous for a less severe missense allele presented only late-onset retinal degeneration without any syndromic symptoms.
We identified a potential novel genotype–phenotype correlation between NEUROD1 and nonsyndromic ARRP. Our study supports the idea that NEUROD1 is important for maintenance of the retina function and partial loss-of-function mutation in NEUROD1 is likely a rare cause of nonsyndromic ARRP.
We identified a potential novel genotype–phenotype correlation between NEUROD1 and nonsyndromic ARRP.
PMCID: PMC4290556  PMID: 25477324
retinitis pigmentosa; NEUROD1; genotype–phenotype correlation; next-generation sequencing; retina
20.  Structural insights into human Kif7, a kinesin involved in Hedgehog signalling 
The human Kif7 motor domain structure provides insights into a kinesin of medical significance.
Kif7, a member of the kinesin 4 superfamily, is implicated in a variety of diseases including Joubert, hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes. It is also involved in primary cilium formation and the Hedgehog signalling pathway and may play a role in cancer. Its activity is crucial for embryonic development. Kif7 and Kif27, a closely related kinesin in the same subfamily, are orthologues of the Drosophila melano­gaster kinesin-like protein Costal-2 (Cos2). In vertebrates, they work together to fulfil the role of the single Cos2 gene in Drosophila. Here, the high-resolution structure of the human Kif7 motor domain is reported and is compared with that of conventional kinesin, the founding member of the kinesin superfamily. These data are a first step towards structural characterization of a kinesin-4 family member and of this interesting molecular motor of medical significance.
PMCID: PMC3266853  PMID: 22281744
Kif7; Kif27; human kinesins; Hedgehog signalling
21.  Mutations in KIF7 link Joubert syndrome with Sonic Hedgehog signaling and microtubule dynamics  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(7):2662-2667.
Joubert syndrome (JBTS) is characterized by a specific brain malformation with various additional pathologies. It results from mutations in any one of at least 10 different genes, including NPHP1, which encodes nephrocystin-1. JBTS has been linked to dysfunction of primary cilia, since the gene products known to be associated with the disorder localize to this evolutionarily ancient organelle. Here we report the identification of a disease locus, JBTS12, with mutations in the KIF7 gene, an ortholog of the Drosophila kinesin Costal2, in a consanguineous JBTS family and subsequently in other JBTS patients. Interestingly, KIF7 is a known regulator of Hedgehog signaling and a putative ciliary motor protein. We found that KIF7 co-precipitated with nephrocystin-1. Further, knockdown of KIF7 expression in cell lines caused defects in cilia formation and induced abnormal centrosomal duplication and fragmentation of the Golgi network. These cellular phenotypes likely resulted from abnormal tubulin acetylation and microtubular dynamics. Thus, we suggest that modified microtubule stability and growth direction caused by loss of KIF7 function may be an underlying disease mechanism contributing to JBTS.
PMCID: PMC3223820  PMID: 21633164
22.  Dosage changes of MED13L further delineate its role in congenital heart defects and intellectual disability 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(10):1100-1104.
A chromosomal balanced translocation disrupting the MED13L (Mediator complex subunit13-like) gene, encoding a subunit of the Mediator complex, was previously associated with transposition of the great arteries (TGA) and intellectual disability (ID), and led to the identification of missense mutations in three patients with isolated TGA. Recently, a homozygous missense mutation in MED13L was found in two siblings with non-syndromic ID from a consanguineous family. Here, we describe for the first time, three patients with copy number changes affecting MED13L and delineate a recognizable MED13L haploinsufficiency syndrome. Using high resolution molecular karyotyping, we identified two intragenic de novo frameshift deletions, likely resulting in haploinsufficiency, in two patients with a similar phenotype of hypotonia, moderate ID, conotruncal heart defect and facial anomalies. In both, Sanger sequencing of MED13L did not reveal any pathogenic mutation and exome sequencing in one patient showed no evidence for a non-allelic second hit. A further patient with hypotonia, learning difficulties and perimembranous VSD showed a 1 Mb de novo triplication in 12q24.2, including MED13L and MAP1LC3B2. Our findings show that MED13L haploinsufficiency in contrast to the previously observed missense mutations cause a distinct syndromic phenotype. Additionally, a MED13L copy number gain results in a milder phenotype. The clinical features suggesting a neurocristopathy may be explained by animal model studies indicating involvement of the Mediator complex subunit 13 in neural crest induction.
PMCID: PMC3778355  PMID: 23403903
congenital heart defect; intellectual disability; MED13L; copy number changes; neurocristopathy
23.  Organisation of the human PAX4 gene and its exclusion as a candidate for the Wolcott-Rallison syndrome. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1998;35(4):288-292.
Neonatal diabetes mellitus is a rare condition, the causes of which are mostly unknown. One well defined though very rare entity is the autosomal recessive Wolcott-Rallison syndrome, in which permanent neonatal diabetes, osteopenia, and epiphyseal dysplasia occur. Only five previous families have been reported, and here we describe the second in which parental consanguinity was present. The proband was born to first cousin parents and died at 2 years from the sequelae of poorly controlled diabetes. To test the hypothesis that mutation of PAX4, required in the mouse for pancreatic islet beta cell development, might cause WRS, the structure of the human PAX4 gene was deduced and DNA from two unrelated WRS patients sequenced. No PAX4 mutation was present, though the entire coding region was sequenced in both patients. It therefore appears unlikely that PAX4 is involved in the aetiology of Wolcott-Rallison syndrome, though it remains a good candidate for other forms of neonatal diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC1051275  PMID: 9598721
24.  The utility of mouse models to provide information regarding the pathomolecular mechanisms in human genetic skeletal diseases: The emerging role of endoplasmic reticulum stress (Review) 
Genetic skeletal diseases (GSDs) are an extremely diverse and complex group of rare genetic diseases that primarily affect the development and homeostasis of the osseous skeleton. There are more than 450 unique and well-characterised phenotypes that range in severity from relatively mild to severe and lethal forms. Although individually rare, as a group of related genetic diseases, GSDs have an overall prevalence of at least 1 per 4,000 children. Qualitative defects in cartilage structural proteins result in a broad spectrum of both recessive and dominant GSDs. This review focused on a disease spectrum resulting from mutations in the non-collagenous glycoproteins, cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and matrilin-3, which together cause a continuum of phenotypes that are amongst the most common autosomal dominant GSDs. Pseudoachondroplasia (PSACH) and autosomal dominant multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (MED) comprise a disease spectrum characterised by varying degrees of disproportionate short stature, joint pain and stiffness and early-onset osteoarthritis. Over the past decade, the generation and deep phenotyping of a range of genetic mouse models of the PSACH and MED disease spectrum has allowed the disease mechanisms to be characterised in detail. Moreover, the generation of novel phenocopies to model specific disease mechanisms has confirmed the importance of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and reduced chondrocyte proliferation as key modulators of growth plate dysplasia and reduced bone growth. Finally, new insight into related musculoskeletal complications (such as myopathy and tendinopathy) has also been gained through the in-depth analysis of targeted mouse models of the PSACH-MED disease spectrum.
PMCID: PMC4432922  PMID: 25824717
skeletal dysplasia; cartilage; endoplasmic reticulum stress; mouse models; disease mechanisms; pseudoachondroplasia; multiple epiphyseal dysplasia
25.  Motor protein mutations cause a new form of hereditary spastic paraplegia 
Neurology  2014;82(22):2007-2016.
To identify a novel disease gene in 2 families with autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP).
We used whole-exome sequencing to identify the underlying genetic disease cause in 2 families with apparently autosomal recessive spastic paraplegia. Endogenous expression as well as subcellular localization of wild-type and mutant protein were studied to support the pathogenicity of the identified mutations.
In 2 families, we identified compound heterozygous or homozygous mutations in the kinesin gene KIF1C to cause hereditary spastic paraplegia type 58 (SPG58). SPG58 can be complicated by cervical dystonia and cerebellar ataxia. The same mutations in a heterozygous state result in a mild or subclinical phenotype. KIF1C mutations in SPG58 affect the domains involved in adenosine triphosphate hydrolysis and microtubule binding, key functions for this microtubule-based motor protein.
KIF1C is the third kinesin gene involved in the pathogenesis of HSPs and is characterized by a mild dominant and a more severe recessive disease phenotype. The identification of KIF1C as an HSP disease gene further supports the key role of intracellular trafficking processes in the pathogenesis of hereditary axonopathies.
PMCID: PMC4105256  PMID: 24808017

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