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1.  Mutations in VLDLR as a Cause for Autosomal Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia with Mental Retardation (Dysequilibrium Syndrome) 
Journal of child neurology  2009;24(10):1310-1315.
Dysequilibrium syndrome (DES) is a genetically heterogeneous condition that combines autosomal recessive, non-progressive cerebellar ataxia with mental retardation. Here we report the first patient heterozygous for two novel mutations in VLDLR. An 18-month old girl presented with significant hypotonia, global developmental delay, and truncal and peripheral ataxia. MR imaging of the brain demonstrated hypoplasia of the inferior cerebellar vermis and hemispheres, small pons, and a simplified cortical sulcation pattern. Sequence analysis of the VLDLR gene identified a nonsense and missense mutation. Six mutations in VLDLR have now been identified in five families with a phenotype characterized by moderate-to-profound mental retardation, delayed ambulation, truncal and peripheral ataxia and occasional seizures. Neuroanatomically, the loss-of-function effect of the different mutations is indistinguishable. VLDLR-associated cerebellar hypoplasia is emerging as a panethnic, clinically and molecularly well-defined genetic syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2849979  PMID: 19332571
VLDLR; Cerebellar hypoplasia; Dysequilibrium syndrome
2.  Missense mutation in the ATPase, aminophospholipid transporter protein ATP8A2 is associated with cerebellar atrophy and quadrupedal locomotion 
Cerebellar ataxia, mental retardation and dysequilibrium syndrome is a rare and heterogeneous condition. We investigated a consanguineous family from Turkey with four affected individuals exhibiting the condition. Homozygosity mapping revealed that several shared homozygous regions, including chromosome 13q12. Targeted next-generation sequencing of an affected individual followed by segregation analysis, population screening and prediction approaches revealed a novel missense variant, p.I376M, in ATP8A2. The mutation lies in a highly conserved C-terminal transmembrane region of E1 E2 ATPase domain. The ATP8A2 gene is mainly expressed in brain and development, in particular cerebellum. Interestingly, an unrelated individual has been identified, in whom mental retardation and severe hypotonia is associated with a de novo t(10;13) balanced translocation resulting with the disruption of ATP8A2. These findings suggest that ATP8A2 is involved in the development of the cerebro-cerebellar structures required for posture and gait in humans.
PMCID: PMC3573203  PMID: 22892528
ATP8A2; cerebellar hypoplasia; targeted next-generation sequencing; quadrupedal locomotion; CAMRQ
3.  Cerebellar hypoplasia and quadrupedal locomotion in humans as a recessive trait mapping to chromosome 17p 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;43(5):461-464.
Congenital hereditary non‐progressive hypoplasia of the cerebellum is a rare condition, frequently associated with other neuropathology such as lissencephaly. Clinically, the condition is associated with variable degrees of mental retardation, microcephaly, seizures, and movement disorders due to ataxia. In severe cases, patients are unable to ambulate independently, but nevertheless do use bipedal locomotion.
Methods and Results
Here we present a family with seven affected members, five of whom never learned to walk on two legs but have fully adapted to quadrupedal palmigrade locomotion. These subjects show signs of cerebellar ataxia and are mentally retarded. MRI analysis demonstrated hypoplasia of the cerebellum and the cerebellar vermis as well as a small nucleus dentatus and a thin corpus callosum but no other malformations. We show, by a genome‐wide linkage scan, that quadrupedal locomotion is a recessive trait linked to chromosome 17p.
Our findings have implications for understanding the neural mechanism mediating bipedalism, and, perhaps, the evolution of this unique hominid trait.
PMCID: PMC2564522  PMID: 16371500
bipedality; cerebellar hypoplasia; linkage; quadrupedal locomotion
4.  Challenges of diagnostic exome sequencing in an inbred founder population 
Exome sequencing was used as a diagnostic tool in a Roma/Gypsy family with three subjects (one deceased) affected by lissencephaly with cerebellar hypoplasia (LCH), a clinically and genetically heterogeneous diagnostic category. Data analysis identified high levels of unreported inbreeding, with multiple rare/novel “deleterious” variants occurring in the homozygous state in the affected individuals. Step-wise filtering was facilitated by the inclusion of parental samples in the analysis and the availability of ethnically matched control exome data. We identified a novel mutation, p.Asp487Tyr, in the VLDLR gene involved in the Reelin developmental pathway and associated with a rare form of LCH, the Dysequilibrium Syndrome. p.Asp487Tyr is the third reported missense mutation in this gene and the first example of a change affecting directly the functionally crucial β-propeller domain. An unexpected additional finding was a second unique mutation (p.Asn494His) with high scores of predicted pathogenicity in KCNV2, a gene implicated in a rare eye disorder, retinal cone dystrophy type 3B. This result raised diagnostic and counseling challenges that could be resolved through mutation screening of a large panel of healthy population controls. The strategy and findings of this study may inform the search for new disease mutations in the largest European genetic isolate.
PMCID: PMC3865571  PMID: 24498604
Diagnostic exome sequencing; dysequilibrium syndrome; founder mutations; Roma/Gypsies; VLDLR
5.  CAMOS, a nonprogressive, autosomal recessive, congenital cerebellar ataxia, is caused by a mutant zinc-finger protein, ZNF592 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2010;18(10):1107-1113.
CAMOS (Cerebellar Ataxia with Mental retardation, Optic atrophy and Skin abnormalities) is a rare autosomal recessive syndrome characterized by a nonprogressive congenital cerebellar ataxia associated with mental retardation, optic atrophy, and skin abnormalities. Using homozygosity mapping in a large inbred Lebanese Druze family, we previously reported the mapping of the disease gene at chromosome 15q24–q26 to a 3.6-cM interval between markers D15S206 and D15S199. Screening of candidate genes lying in this region led to the identification of a homozygous p.Gly1046Arg missense mutation in ZNF592, in all five affected individuals of the family. ZNF592 encodes a 1267-amino-acid zinc-finger (ZnF) protein, and the mutation, located within the eleventh ZnF, is predicted to affect the DNA-binding properties of ZNF592. Although the precise role of ZNF592 remains to be determined, our results suggest that ZNF592 is implicated in a complex developmental pathway, and that the mutation is likely to disturb the highly orchestrated regulation of genes during cerebellar development, by either disrupting interactions with target DNA or with a partner protein.
PMCID: PMC2987462  PMID: 20531441
CAMOS; missense mutation; ZNF592; C2H2 zinc-finger domain; cerebellar ataxia; nonprogressive
6.  CA8 Mutations Cause a Novel Syndrome Characterized by Ataxia and Mild Mental Retardation with Predisposition to Quadrupedal Gait 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(5):e1000487.
We describe a consanguineous Iraqi family in which affected siblings had mild mental retardation and congenital ataxia characterized by quadrupedal gait. Genome-wide linkage analysis identified a 5.8 Mb interval on chromosome 8q with shared homozygosity among the affected persons. Sequencing of genes contained in the interval revealed a homozygous mutation, S100P, in carbonic anhydrase related protein 8 (CA8), which is highly expressed in cerebellar Purkinje cells and influences inositol triphosphate (ITP) binding to its receptor ITPR1 on the endoplasmatic reticulum and thereby modulates calcium signaling. We demonstrate that the mutation S100P is associated with proteasome-mediated degradation, and thus presumably represents a null mutation comparable to the Ca8 mutation underlying the previously described waddles mouse, which exhibits ataxia and appendicular dystonia. CA8 thus represents the third locus that has been associated with quadrupedal gait in humans, in addition to the VLDLR locus and a locus at chromosome 17p. Our findings underline the importance of ITP-mediated signaling in cerebellar function and provide suggestive evidence that congenital ataxia paired with cerebral dysfunction may, together with unknown contextual factors during development, predispose to quadrupedal gait in humans.
Author Summary
We identified a homozygous missense mutation (S100P) in the gene encoding carbonic anhydrase VIII in a consanguineous Iraqi family in which affected siblings had mild mental retardation and congenital ataxia characterized by quadrupedal gait. The affected persons walk on their hands and feet with their legs held straight with a “bear-like” gait. Our results show that the mutation S100P induces proteasome-mediated degradation with a severe reduction of the level of CA8 protein. The waddles (wdl) mouse, a spontaneous animal model with ataxia, was previously shown to harbor a 19-bp deletion in Ca8 that leads to an almost complete lack of detectable Ca8 protein, resulting in abnormalities in cerebellar synaptic transmission. Therefore, we speculate that the reduction in CA8 protein concentration associated with the S100P mutation could result in similar pathophysiological effects. With the current report, alterations at three gene loci (CA8, VLDLR, and a yet-to-be discovered gene on chromosome 17p) have been reported to be associated with quadrupedal gait. It is unknown whether quadrupedal gait is related to specific molecular abnormalities or is an adaptive response to ataxia in some circumstances. However, we note that ataxia associated with mutations at all three loci is congenital and also associated with mental retardation, which is not generally a feature of other hereditary ataxias.
PMCID: PMC2677160  PMID: 19461874
7.  A Family with Mental Retardation, Epilepsy and Cerebellar Hypoplasia Showing Linkage to Chromosome 20p11.21-q11.23 
Case Reports in Neurology  2014;6(1):18-22.
Cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) is a rare malformation caused by various etiologies, usually manifesting clinically as nonprogressive cerebellar ataxia with or without mental retardation. The molecular pathogenesis of the autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxias has a wide range of mechanisms. Differential diagnosis and categorization of the recessive cerebellar ataxias, however, need more specific, biochemical and genetic investigation.
This study applied whole-genome linkage analysis to study a family with nonprogressive cerebellar ataxia and additional mental retardation, epilepsy, and facial dysmorphic features. Genotyping and linkage analysis was done using the GeneChip Mapping 250K NspI Array (Affymetrix Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., USA) for genome-wide linkage analysis of the genotyping data from the affected children and their parents.
Allegro software version 1.2 was used for multipoint linkage analysis. We assumed an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern and assigned a penetrance of 0.999. Single-nucleotide polymorphism allele frequencies were estimated from the Affymetrix data of the Caucasian family studied. Using these parameters, a theoretical maximum logarithm of the odds score of 2.69 was identified at chromosome 20p11.21-q11.23.
This chromosomal locus is unprecedented in autosomal recessive and nonprogressive ataxia disorder. Further investigation might reveal a new causative gene generating the CH phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3934806  PMID: 24575028
Parametric linkage analysis; Cerebellar hypoplasia; Mental retardation; Logarithm of the odds score
8.  AHI1 mutations cause both retinal dystrophy and renal cystic disease in Joubert syndrome 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;43(4):334-339.
Joubert syndrome (JS) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterised by hypotonia, ataxia, mental retardation, altered respiratory pattern, abnormal eye movements, and a brain malformation known as the molar tooth sign (MTS) on cranial MRI. Four genetic loci have been mapped, with two genes identified (AHI1 and NPHP1).
We screened a cohort of 117 JS subjects for AHI1 mutations by a combination of haplotype analysis and sequencing of the gene, and for the homozygous NPHP1 deletion by sequencing and marker analysis.
We identified a total of 15 novel AHI1 mutations in 13 families, including nonsense, missense, splice site, and insertion mutations, with some clustering in the WD40 domains. Eight families were consanguineous, but no single founder mutation was apparent. In addition to the MTS, retinal dystrophy was present in 11 of 12 informative families; however, no subjects exhibited variable features of JS such as polydactyly, encephalocele, colobomas, or liver fibrosis. In contrast to previous reports, we identified two families with affected siblings who developed renal disease consistent with nephronophthisis (NPH) in their 20s. In addition, two individuals with classic NPH were found to have homozygous NPHP1 deletions.
Overall, 11% of subjects had AHI1 mutations, while ∼2% had the NPHP1 deletion, representing a total of less than 15% in a large JS cohort. Some preliminary genotype‐phenotype correlations are possible, notably the association of renal impairment, specifically NPH, in those with NPHP1 deletions. Subjects with AHI1 mutations may be at risk of developing both retinal dystrophy and progressive kidney disease.
PMCID: PMC2563230  PMID: 16155189
AHI1 ; cerebellar vermis hypoplasia; Joubert syndrome; nephronophthisis;  NPHP1
9.  Mutations in 3 genes (MKS3, CC2D2A and RPGRIP1L) cause COACH syndrome (Joubert syndrome with congenital hepatic fibrosis) 
Journal of medical genetics  2009;47(1):8-21.
To identify genetic causes of COACH syndrome
COACH syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterised by Cerebellar vermis hypoplasia, Oligophrenia (developmental delay/mental retardation), Ataxia, Coloboma, and Hepatic fibrosis. The vermis hypoplasia falls in a spectrum of mid-hindbrain malformation called the molar tooth sign (MTS), making COACH a Joubert syndrome related disorder (JSRD).
In a cohort of 251 families with JSRD, 26 subjects in 23 families met criteria for COACH syndrome, defined as JSRD plus clinically apparent liver disease. Diagnostic criteria for JSRD were clinical findings (intellectual impairment, hypotonia, ataxia) plus supportive brain imaging findings (MTS or cerebellar vermis hypoplasia). MKS3/TMEM67 was sequenced in all subjects for whom DNA was available. In COACH subjects without MKS3 mutations, CC2D2A, RPGRIP1L and CEP290 were also sequenced.
19/23 families (83%) with COACH syndrome carried MKS3 mutations, compared to 2/209 (1%) with JSRD but no liver disease. Two other families with COACH carried CC2D2A mutations, one family carried RPGRIP1L mutations, and one lacked mutations in MKS3, CC2D2A, RPGRIP1L and CEP290. Liver biopsies from three subjects, each with mutations in one of the three genes, revealed changes within the congenital hepatic fibrosis/ductal plate malformation spectrum. In JSRD with and without liver disease, MKS3 mutations account for 21/232 families (9%).
Mutations in MKS3 are responsible for the majority of COACH syndrome, with minor contributions from CC2D2A and RPGRIP1L; therefore, MKS3 should be the first gene tested in patients with JSRD plus liver disease and/or coloboma, followed by CC2D2A and RPGRIP1L.
PMCID: PMC3501959  PMID: 19574260
10.  CASK mutations are frequent in males and cause X-linked nystagmus and variable XLMR phenotypes 
Mutations of the calcium/calmodulin-dependent serine protein kinase (CASK) gene have recently been associated with X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) with microcephaly, optic atrophy and brainstem and cerebellar hypoplasia, as well as with an X-linked syndrome having some FG-like features. Our group has recently identified four male probands from 358 probable XLMR families with missense mutations (p.Y268H, p.P396S, p.D710G and p.W919R) in the CASK gene. Congenital nystagmus, a rare and striking feature, was present in two of these families. We screened a further 45 probands with either nystagmus or microcephaly and mental retardation (MR), and identified two further mutations, a missense mutation (p.Y728C) and a splice mutation (c.2521-2A>T) in two small families with nystagmus and MR. Detailed clinical examinations of all six families, including an ophthalmological review in four families, were undertaken to further characterise the phenotype. We report on the clinical features of 24 individuals, mostly male, from six families with CASK mutations. The phenotype was variable, ranging from non-syndromic mild MR to severe MR associated with microcephaly and dysmorphic facial features. Carrier females were variably affected. Congenital nystagmus was found in members of four of the families. Our findings reinforce the CASK gene as a relatively frequent cause of XLMR in females and males. We further define the phenotypic spectrum and demonstrate that affected males with missense mutations or in-frame deletions in CASK are frequently associated with congenital nystagmus and XLMR, a striking feature not previously reported.
PMCID: PMC2987321  PMID: 20029458
CASK gene; XLMR; intellectual disability; congenital nystagmus
11.  Missense mutations in ITPR1 cause autosomal dominant congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia 
Congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia is characterized by early gross motor delay, hypotonia, gait ataxia, mild dysarthria and dysmetria. The clinical presentation remains fairly stable and may be associated with cerebellar atrophy. To date, only a few families with autosomal dominant congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia have been reported. Linkage to 3pter was demonstrated in one large Australian family and this locus was designated spinocerebellar ataxia type 29. The objective of this study is to describe an unreported Canadian family with autosomal dominant congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia and to identify the underlying genetic causes in this family and the original Australian family.
Methods and Results
Exome sequencing was performed for the Australian family, resulting in the identification of a heterozygous mutation in the ITPR1 gene. For the Canadian family, genotyping with microsatellite markers and Sanger sequencing of ITPR1 gene were performed; a heterozygous missense mutation in ITPR1 was identified.
ITPR1 encodes inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor, type 1, a ligand-gated ion channel that mediates calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum. Deletions of ITPR1 are known to cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 15, a distinct and very slowly progressive form of cerebellar ataxia with onset in adulthood. Our study demonstrates for the first time that, in addition to spinocerebellar ataxia type 15, alteration of ITPR1 function can cause a distinct congenital nonprogressive ataxia; highlighting important clinical heterogeneity associated with the ITPR1 gene and a significant role of the ITPR1-related pathway in the development and maintenance of the normal functions of the cerebellum.
PMCID: PMC3545966  PMID: 22986007
Congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia; Spinocerebellar ataxia type 29; Cerebellar atrophy; ITPR1; Gene identification
12.  Mutation analysis of NPHP6/CEP290 in patients with Joubert syndrome and Senior–Løken syndrome 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2007;44(10):657-663.
Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease that constitutes the most common genetic cause of renal failure in the first three decades of life. Using positional cloning, six genes (NPHP1‐6) have been identified as mutated in NPHP. In Joubert syndrome (JBTS), NPHP may be associated with cerebellar vermis aplasia/hypoplasia, retinal degeneration and mental retardation. In Senior–Løken syndrome (SLSN), NPHP is associated with retinal degeneration. Recently, mutations in NPHP6/CEP290 were identified as a new cause of JBTS.
Mutational analysis was performed on a worldwide cohort of 75 families with SLSN, 99 families with JBTS and 21 families with isolated nephronophthisis.
Six novel and six known truncating mutations, one known missense mutation and one novel 3 bp pair in‐frame deletion were identified in a total of seven families with JBTS, two families with SLSN and one family with isolated NPHP.
PMCID: PMC2597962  PMID: 17617513
NPHP6/CEP290 ; Joubert syndrome; Senior–Løken syndrome; nephronophthisis; mutational analysis
13.  Screening of CACNA1A and ATP1A2 genes in hemiplegic migraine: clinical, genetic, and functional studies 
Hemiplegic migraine (HM) is a rare and severe subtype of autosomal dominant migraine, characterized by a complex aura including some degree of motor weakness. Mutations in four genes (CACNA1A, ATP1A2, SCN1A and PRRT2) have been detected in familial and in sporadic cases. This genetically and clinically heterogeneous disorder is often accompanied by permanent ataxia, epileptic seizures, mental retardation, and chronic progressive cerebellar atrophy. Here we report a mutation screening in the CACNA1A and ATP1A2 genes in 18 patients with HM. Furthermore, intragenic copy number variant (CNV) analysis was performed in CACNA1A using quantitative approaches. We identified four previously described missense CACNA1A mutations (p.Ser218Leu, p.Thr501Met, p.Arg583Gln, and p.Thr666Met) and two missense changes in the ATP1A2 gene, the previously described p.Ala606Thr and the novel variant p.Glu825Lys. No structural variants were found. This genetic screening allowed the identification of more than 30% of the disease alleles, all present in a heterozygous state. Functional consequences of the CACNA1A-p.Thr501Met mutation, previously described only in association with episodic ataxia, and ATP1A2-p.Glu825Lys, were investigated by means of electrophysiological studies, cell viability assays or Western blot analysis. Our data suggest that both these variants are disease-causing.
PMCID: PMC3865589  PMID: 24498617
ATP1A2; CACNA1A; functional studies; hemiplegic migraine; mutation analysis
14.  New Recessive Syndrome of Microcephaly, Cerebellar Hypoplasia, and Congenital Heart Conduction Defect 
We identified a two-branch consanguineous family in which four affected members (three females and one male) presenting with constitutive growth delay, severe psychomotor retardation, microcephaly, cerebellar hypoplasia, and second degree heart block. They also shared distinct facial features and similar appearance of their hands and feet. Childhood-onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus developed in one affected child around the age of 9 years. Molecular analysis excluded mutations in potentially related genes such as PTF1A, EIF2AK3, EOMES and WDR62. This condition appears to be unique of other known conditions, suggesting a unique clinical entity of autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.
PMCID: PMC3415795  PMID: 22002884
Microcephaly; insulin-dependent diabetes; cerebellar hypoplasia; mental retardation; heart block
15.  New Recessive Syndrome of Microcephaly, Cerebellar Hypoplasia, and Congenital Heart Conduction Defect 
We identified a two-branch consanguineous family in which four affected members (three females and one male) presented with constitutive growth delay, severe psychomotor retardation, microcephaly, cerebellar hypoplasia, and second-degree heart block. They also shared distinct facial features and similar appearance of their hands and feet. Childhood-onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus developed in one affected child around the age of 9 years. Molecular analysis excluded mutations in potentially related genes such as PTF1A, EIF2AK3, EOMES, and WDR62. This condition appears to be unique of other known conditions, suggesting a unique clinical entity of autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3415795  PMID: 22002884
microcephaly; insulin-dependent diabetes; cerebellar hypoplasia; mental retardation; heart block
16.  X linked severe mental retardation, craniofacial dysmorphology, epilepsy, ophthalmoplegia, and cerebellar atrophy in a large South African kindred is localised to Xq24-q27 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1999;36(10):759-766.
To date over 150 X linked mental retardation (XLMR) conditions have been documented. We describe a five generation South African family with XLMR, comprising 16 affected males and 10 carrier females. The clinical features common to the 16 males included profound mental retardation (100%), mutism despite apparently normal hearing (100%), grand mal epilepsy (87.5%), and limited life expectancy (68.8%). Of the four affected males examined, all had mild craniofacial dysmorphology and three were noted to have bilateral ophthalmoplegia and truncal ataxia. Three of 10 obligate female carriers had mild mental retardation. Cerebellar and brain stem atrophy was shown by cranial imaging and postmortem examination. Linkage analysis shows the gene to be located between markers DXS424 (Xq24) and DXS548 (Xq27.3), with a maximum two point lod score of 3.10.

Keywords: X linked mental retardation; epilepsy; cerebellar atrophy; ophthalmoplegia
PMCID: PMC1734236  PMID: 10528855
17.  X-linked disorders with cerebellar dysgenesis 
X-linked disorders with cerebellar dysgenesis (XLCD) are a genetically heterogeneous and clinically variable group of disorders in which the hallmark is a cerebellar defect (hypoplasia, atrophy or dysplasia) visible on brain imaging, caused by gene mutations or genomic imbalances on the X-chromosome. The neurological features of XLCD include hypotonia, developmental delay, intellectual disability, ataxia and/or other cerebellar signs. Normal cognitive development has also been reported. Cerebellar dysgenesis may be isolated or associated with other brain malformations or multiorgan involvement. There are at least 15 genes on the X-chromosome that have been constantly or occasionally associated with a pathological cerebellar phenotype. 8 XLCD loci have been mapped and several families with X-linked inheritance have been reported. Recently, two recurrent duplication syndromes in Xq28 have been associated with cerebellar hypoplasia. Given the report of several forms of XLCD and the excess of males with ataxia, this group of conditions is probably underestimated and families of patients with neuroradiological and clinical evidence of a cerebellar disorder should be counseled for high risk of X-linked inheritance.
PMCID: PMC3115841  PMID: 21569638
18.  Fragile X-Associated Tremor Ataxia Syndrome: The Expanding Clinical Picture, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology, and Update on Treatment 
Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements  2012;2:tre-02-56-352-1.
Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) is a progressive degenerative movement disorder characterized by kinetic tremor, cerebellar gait ataxia, parkinsonism, and cognitive decline. This disorder occurs in both males and females, frequently in families with children who have fragile X syndrome. The clinical features of this disorder, both classic and newly described, are summarized in this paper. In screening studies, fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene premutation (55–200 CGG) expansions are most frequently seen in men with ataxia who have tested negative for spinocerebellar ataxias. Since the original description, the classic FXTAS phenotype has now been reported in females and in carriers of smaller (45–54 CGG) and larger (>200 CGG) expansions in FMR1. Premutation carriers may present with a Parkinson disease phenotype or hypotension, rather than with tremor and/or ataxia. Parkinsonism and gait ataxia may also be seen in individuals with gray zone (41–54 CGG) expansions. Studies regarding medication to treat the symptoms in FXTAS are few in number and suggest that medications targeted to specific symptoms, such as kinetic tremor or gait ataxia, may be most beneficial. Great progress has been made in regards to FXTAS research, likely given the readily available gene test and the screening of multiple family members, including parents and grandparents, of fragile X syndrome children. Expansion of genotypes and phenotypes in the disorder may suggest that a broader disease definition might be necessary in the future.
PMCID: PMC3570061  PMID: 23439567
FMR1; FXTAS; genetics; ataxia; gray zone; premutation
19.  Identification of ATM Mutations in Korean Siblings with Ataxia-Telangiectasia 
Annals of Laboratory Medicine  2013;33(3):217-220.
Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is a rare autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder. It is characterized by early-onset, progressive cerebellar ataxia, oculomotor apraxia, choreoathetosis, conjunctival telangiectasias, immunodeficiency, and an increased risk of malignancy. Although A-T is known to be the most common cause of progressive cerebellar ataxia in childhood, there have been no confirmed cases in Korea. We report the clinical and genetic findings of Korean siblings who presented with limb and truncal ataxia, oculomotor apraxia, choreoathetosis, and telangiectasias of the eyes. Sequence analysis of the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene revealed a known missense mutation (c.8546G>C; p.Arg2849Pro) and a novel intronic variant of intron 17 (c.2639-19_2639-7del13). Reverse-transcription PCR and sequencing analysis revealed that the c.2639-19_2639-7del13 variant causes a splicing aberration that potentiates skipping exon 18. Because A-T is quite rare in Korea, the diagnosis of A-T in Korean patients can be delayed. We recommend that a diagnosis of A-T should be suspected in Korean patients exhibiting the clinical features of A-T.
PMCID: PMC3646200  PMID: 23667852
Ataxia; Ataxia telangiectasia; Ataxia telangiectasia mutated protein; Korea
20.  Abnormalities of cell packing density and dendritic complexity in the MeCP2 A140V mouse model of Rett syndrome/X-linked mental retardation 
BMC Neuroscience  2010;11:19.
Rett syndrome (RTT), a common cause of mental retardation in girls, is associated with mutations in the MECP2 gene. Most human cases of MECP2 mutation in girls result in classical or variant forms of RTT. When these same mutations occur in males, they often present as severe neonatal encephalopathy. However, some MECP2 mutations can also lead to diseases characterized as mental retardation syndromes, particularly in boys. One of these mutations, A140V, is a common, recurring missense mutation accounting for about 0.6% of all MeCP2 mutations and ranking 21st by frequency. It has been described in familial X-linked mental retardation (XLMR), PPM- X syndrome (Parkinsonism, Pyramidal signs, Macroorchidism, X-linked mental retardation) and in other neuropsychiatric syndromes. Interestingly, this mutation has been reported to preserve the methyl-CpG binding function of the MeCP2 protein while compromising its ability to bind to the mental retardation associated protein ATRX.
We report the construction and initial characterization of a mouse model expressing the A140V MeCP2 mutation. These initial descriptive studies in male hemizygous mice have revealed brain abnormalities seen in both RTT and mental retardation. The abnormalities found include increases in cell packing density in the brain and a significant reduction in the complexity of neuronal dendritic branching. In contrast to some MeCP2 mutation mouse models, the A140V mouse has an apparently normal lifespan and normal weight gain patterns with no obvious seizures, tremors, breathing difficulties or kyphosis.
We have identified various neurological abnormalities in this mouse model of Rett syndrome/X-linked mental retardation which may help to elucidate the manner in which MECP2 mutations cause neuronal changes resulting in mental retardation without the confounding effects of seizures, chronic hypoventilation, or other Rett syndrome associated symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2836362  PMID: 20163734
21.  Exome sequencing reveals a novel TTC19 mutation in an autosomal recessive spinocerebellar ataxia patient 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:5.
Spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are heterogeneous diseases characterized by progressive cerebellar ataxia associated with dysarthria, oculomotor abnormalities, and mental impairment. To identify the causative gene, we performed exome sequencing on a Japanese patient clinically diagnosed with recessive SCA.
The patient is a 37-year-old Japanese woman with consanguineous parents. The head magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed cerebellar atrophy and T1 low/T2 high intensity at the bilateral inferior olives. Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping and next-generation sequencing were performed, and the variants obtained were filtered and prioritized.
After these manipulations, we identified a homozygous nonsense mutation of the TTC19 gene (p.Q277*). TTC19 has been reported to be a causative gene of a neurodegenerative disease in Italian and Portuguese families and to be involved in the pathogenesis of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex III (cIII) deficiency. This report is the first description of a TTC19 mutation in an Asian population. Clinical symptoms and neuroimaging are consistent with previous reports. The head MRI already showed abnormal features four years before her blood lactate and pyruvate levels were elevated.
We should consider the genetic analysis of TTC19 when we observe such characteristic MRI abnormalities. Genes associated with mitochondrial function cause many types of SCAs; the mutation we identified should help to elucidate the pathology of these disorders.
PMCID: PMC3890717  PMID: 24397319
Exome sequencing; Mitochondrial respiratory chain complex III; Nonsense mutation; Spinocerebellar ataxia; TTC19
22.  CEP290 interacts with the centriolar satellite component PCM-1 and is required for Rab8 localization to the primary cilium 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(23):3796-3805.
Joubert syndrome (JS) is a developmental brain disorder characterized by cerebellar vermis hypoplasia, abnormal eye movement, ataxia and mental retardation. Mutations in CEP290 mutations are responsible for the cerebello–oculo–renal subtype of JS that includes kidney cysts and retinal degeneration, two phenotypes commonly linked to ciliopathies. CEP290 mutations are also associated with Meckel–Gruber syndrome and Bardet–Biedl syndrome (BBS). Here we demonstrate that CEP290 interacts with a centriolar satellite protein PCM-1, which is implicated in BBS4 function. CEP290 binds to PCM-1 and localizes to centriolar satellites in a PCM-1- and microtubule-dependent manner. The depletion of CEP290 disrupts subcellular distribution and protein complex formation of PCM-1. In accord with PCM-1’s role in microtubule organization, CEP290 knockdown causes the disorganization of the cytoplasmic microtubule network. Moreover, we show that both CEP290 and PCM-1 are required for ciliogenesis and are involved in the ciliary targeting of Rab8, a small GTPase shown to collaborate with BBS protein complex to promote ciliogenesis. Our results suggest that PCM-1 is a potential mediator that may link CEP290 with BBS proteins in common molecular pathways.
PMCID: PMC2722899  PMID: 18772192
23.  Mutation of DNAJC19, a human homologue of yeast inner mitochondrial membrane co‐chaperones, causes DCMA syndrome, a novel autosomal recessive Barth syndrome‐like condition 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;43(5):385-393.
A novel autosomal recessive condition, dilated cardiomyopathy with ataxia (DCMA) syndrome, has been identified in the Canadian Dariusleut Hutterite population, characterised by early onset dilated cardiomyopathy with conduction defects, non‐progressive cerebellar ataxia, testicular dysgenesis, growth failure, and 3‐methylglutaconic aciduria.
To map DCMA syndrome and identify the mutation underlying this condition.
A genome wide scan was undertaken on consanguineous Hutterite families using a homozygosity mapping approach in order to identify the DCMA associated chromosomal region. Mutation analysis was carried out on positional candidate genes in this region by sequencing. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and bioinformatics analyses were then used to characterise the mutation and determine its effect on the protein product.
The association of DCMA syndrome with a 2.2 Mb region of chromosome 3q26.33 was found. A disease associated mutation was identified: IVS3‐1 G→C in the DNAJC19 gene, encoding a DNAJ domain containing protein of previously unknown function (Entrez Gene ID 131118).
The DNAJC19 protein was previously localised to the mitochondria in cardiac myocytes, and shares sequence and organisational similarity with proteins from several species including two yeast mitochondrial inner membrane proteins, Mdj2p and Tim14. Tim14 is a component of the yeast inner mitochondrial membrane presequence translocase, suggesting that the unique phenotype of DCMA may be the result of defective mitochondrial protein import. It is only the second human disorder caused by defects in this pathway that has been identified.
PMCID: PMC2564511  PMID: 16055927
mitochondrial protein import; dilated cardiomyopathy; 3‐methylglutaconic aciduria
24.  Homozygosity mapping of a third Joubert syndrome locus to 6q23 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2004;41(4):273-277.
Background: Joubert syndrome (JS) is a recessively inherited disorder characterised by hypotonia at birth and developmental delay, followed by truncal ataxia and cognitive impairment, characteristic neuroimaging findings (cerebellar vermis hypoplasia, "molar tooth sign") and suggestive facial features. JS is clinically heterogeneous with some patients presenting with breathing abnormalities in the neonatal period, oculomotor apraxia, retinal dystrophy, retinal coloboma, ptosis, hexadactyly, and nephronophtisis or cystic dysplastic kidneys. JS is also genetically heterogeneous, with two known loci, on 9q34 (JBTS1) and 11p11-q12 (CORS2), representing only a fraction of cases.
Methods: A large consanguineous Joubert family (five affected) was analysed for linkage with a marker set covering the entire genome and 16 smaller families were subsequently tested for candidate loci.
Results: We report here the identification of a third locus in 6q23 (JBTS3) from the study of two consanguineous families. LOD score calculation, including the consanguinity loops, gave a maximum value of 4.1 and 2.3 at q = 0 for the two families, respectively.
Conclusions: Linkage between the disease and the D6S1620–D6S1699 haplotype spanning a 13.1 cM interval is demonstrated. Genotype-phenotype studies indicate that, unlike CORS2, JBTS3 appears not to be associated with renal dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC1735723  PMID: 15060101
25.  Whole-Exome Sequencing Identifies Homozygous AFG3L2 Mutations in a Spastic Ataxia-Neuropathy Syndrome Linked to Mitochondrial m-AAA Proteases 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002325.
We report an early onset spastic ataxia-neuropathy syndrome in two brothers of a consanguineous family characterized clinically by lower extremity spasticity, peripheral neuropathy, ptosis, oculomotor apraxia, dystonia, cerebellar atrophy, and progressive myoclonic epilepsy. Whole-exome sequencing identified a homozygous missense mutation (c.1847G>A; p.Y616C) in AFG3L2, encoding a subunit of an m-AAA protease. m-AAA proteases reside in the mitochondrial inner membrane and are responsible for removal of damaged or misfolded proteins and proteolytic activation of essential mitochondrial proteins. AFG3L2 forms either a homo-oligomeric isoenzyme or a hetero-oligomeric complex with paraplegin, a homologous protein mutated in hereditary spastic paraplegia type 7 (SPG7). Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in AFG3L2 cause autosomal-dominant spinocerebellar ataxia type 28 (SCA28), a disorder whose phenotype is strikingly different from that of our patients. As defined in yeast complementation assays, the AFG3L2Y616C gene product is a hypomorphic variant that exhibited oligomerization defects in yeast as well as in patient fibroblasts. Specifically, the formation of AFG3L2Y616C complexes was impaired, both with itself and to a greater extent with paraplegin. This produced an early-onset clinical syndrome that combines the severe phenotypes of SPG7 and SCA28, in additional to other “mitochondrial” features such as oculomotor apraxia, extrapyramidal dysfunction, and myoclonic epilepsy. These findings expand the phenotype associated with AFG3L2 mutations and suggest that AFG3L2-related disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis of spastic ataxias.
Author Summary
Mitochondria are cellular organelles important for converting sugar or fats into energy that cells can use for their functions and survival. Many neurological diseases are the result of mitochondrial dysfunction as affected cells are unable to cope with lowered energy supplies and increased oxidative stress. These deficiencies cause accumulation of cellular damage and eventually cell death. Spastic ataxias are neurological disorders involving cells with large energy requirements, the cerebellar Purkinje cells and the cerebral upper motor neurons. When these cells function improperly or die, individuals develop symptoms of incoordination (ataxia) and abnormal muscle tone in their legs (spastic paraplegia). Using emerging techniques of whole-exome sequencing we discovered that homozygous mutations in the AFG3L2 gene caused spastic ataxia in two brothers of a consanguineous family. AFG3L2 encodes a subunit of mitochondrial matrix proteases (m-AAA proteases) that regulate the functional integrity of mitochondria. Heterozygous mutations in AFG3L2 were previously found to cause a disorder involving the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum resulting in ataxia. Interestingly, another isoform of m-AAA proteases consists of AFG3L2 complexing with paraplegin, a similar protein associated with a hereditary spastic paraplegia. Our analysis provides insight into why different mutations in m-AAA protease subunits cause different neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC3192828  PMID: 22022284

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