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1.  An Integrative Computational Approach for Prioritization of Genomic Variants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114903.
An essential step in the discovery of molecular mechanisms contributing to disease phenotypes and efficient experimental planning is the development of weighted hypotheses that estimate the functional effects of sequence variants discovered by high-throughput genomics. With the increasing specialization of the bioinformatics resources, creating analytical workflows that seamlessly integrate data and bioinformatics tools developed by multiple groups becomes inevitable. Here we present a case study of a use of the distributed analytical environment integrating four complementary specialized resources, namely the Lynx platform, VISTA RViewer, the Developmental Brain Disorders Database (DBDB), and the RaptorX server, for the identification of high-confidence candidate genes contributing to pathogenesis of spina bifida. The analysis resulted in prediction and validation of deleterious mutations in the SLC19A placental transporter in mothers of the affected children that causes narrowing of the outlet channel and therefore leads to the reduced folate permeation rate. The described approach also enabled correct identification of several genes, previously shown to contribute to pathogenesis of spina bifida, and suggestion of additional genes for experimental validations. The study demonstrates that the seamless integration of bioinformatics resources enables fast and efficient prioritization and characterization of genomic factors and molecular networks contributing to the phenotypes of interest.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114903
PMCID: PMC4266634  PMID: 25506935
2.  Genomic analysis of Meckel–Gruber syndrome in Arabs reveals marked genetic heterogeneity and novel candidate genes 
Meckel–Gruber syndrome (MKS, OMIM #249000) is a multiple congenital malformation syndrome that represents the severe end of the ciliopathy phenotypic spectrum. Despite the relatively common occurrence of this syndrome among Arabs, little is known about its genetic architecture in this population. This is a series of 18 Arab families with MKS, who were evaluated clinically and studied using autozygome-guided mutation analysis and exome sequencing. We show that autozygome-guided candidate gene analysis identified the underlying mutation in the majority (n=12, 71%). Exome sequencing revealed a likely pathogenic mutation in three novel candidate MKS disease genes. These include C5orf42, Ellis–van-Creveld disease gene EVC2 and SEC8 (also known as EXOC4), which encodes an exocyst protein with an established role in ciliogenesis. This is the largest and most comprehensive genomic study on MKS in Arabs and the results, in addition to revealing genetic and allelic heterogeneity, suggest that previously reported disease genes and the novel candidates uncovered by this study account for the overwhelming majority of MKS patients in our population.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.254
PMCID: PMC3722952  PMID: 23169490
autozygome; ciliopathy; encephalocele; EVC2; EXOC4
3.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-15-42
PMCID: PMC4001364  PMID: 24725993
DDR2; Spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia; Trafficking defect; SMED-SL; ERAD; Optic atrophy
4.  Delineation of the Clinical, Molecular and Cellular Aspects of Novel JAM3 Mutations Underlying the Autosomal Recessive Hemorrhagic Destruction of the Brain, Subependymal Calcification and Congenital Cataracts 
Human mutation  2013;34(3):498-505.
We have recently shown that the hemorrhagic destruction of the brain, subependymal calcification and congenital cataracts is caused by biallelic mutations in the gene encoding junctional adhesion molecule 3 (JAM3) protein. Affected members from three new families underwent detailed clinical examination including imaging of the brain. Affected individuals presented with a distinctive phenotype comprising hemorrhagic destruction of the brain, subependymal calcification and congenital cataracts. All patients had a catastrophic clinical course resulting in death in 7 out of 10 affected individuals. Sequencing the coding exons of JAM3 revealed three novel homozygous mutations: c.2T>G (p.M1R), c.346G>A (p.E116K) and c.656G>A (p.C219Y). The p.M1R mutation affects the start codon and therefore is predicted to impair protein synthesis. Cellular studies showed that the p.C219Y mutation resulted in a significant retention of the mutated protein in the endoplasmic reticulum, suggesting a trafficking defect. The p.E116K mutant traffics normally to the plasma membrane as the wild type and may have lost its function due to the lack of interaction with an interacting partner. Our data further support the importance of JAM3 in the development and function of the vascular system and the brain.
doi:10.1002/humu.22263
PMCID: PMC3951164  PMID: 23255084
brain; subependymal calcification; congenital cataract; JAM3
5.  LINS, a modulator of the WNT signaling pathway, is involved in human cognition 
Background
Inherited intellectual disability (ID) conditions are a group of genetically heterogeneous disorders that lead to variable degrees of cognition deficits. It has been shown that inherited ID can be caused by mutations in over 100 different genes and there is evidence for the presence of as yet unidentified genes in a significant proportion of patients. We aimed at identifying the defective gene underlying an autosomal recessive ID in two sibs of an Emirati family.
Methods
A combined approach involving homozygosity mapping and whole-exome sequencing was used to identify the causative mutation. RNA analysis was performed to gain further insight into the pathogenic effect of the detected mutation.
Results
We have identified a homozygous splicing mutation (c.1219_1222+1delAAAGG) in the LINS gene in the affected children. LINS is the human homologue of the Drosophila segment polarity gene lin that encodes an essential regulator of the wingless/Wnt signaling. The identified mutation alters the first consensus nucleotide of the 5' donor splice junction of intron 5 and the 3' end of exon 5. Transcript analysis revealed that this change leads to an exon skipping event resulting in direct splicing of exon 4 to exon 6. Another mutation in LINS has been described very briefly in an Iranian family with autosomal recessive ID and microcephaly.
Conclusion
Our study confirms that LINS, a modulator of the WNT pathway, is an indispensable gene to human cognition and this finding sheds further light on the importance of WNT signaling in human brain development and/or function.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-8-87
PMCID: PMC3847167  PMID: 23773660
6.  Evolutionarily Assembled cis-Regulatory Module at a Human Ciliopathy Locus 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;335(6071):966-969.
Neighboring genes are often coordinately expressed within cis-regulatory modules, but evidence that nonparalogous genes share functions in mammals is lacking. Here, we report that mutation of either TMEM138 or TMEM216 causes a phenotypically indistinguishable human ciliopathy, Joubert syndrome. Despite a lack of sequence homology, the genes are aligned in a head-to-tail configuration and joined by chromosomal rearrangement at the amphibian-to-reptile evolutionary transition. Expression of the two genes is mediated by a conserved regulatory element in the noncoding intergenic region. Coordinated expression is important for their interdependent cellular role in vesicular transport to primary cilia. Hence, during vertebrate evolution of genes involved in ciliogenesis, nonparalogous genes were arranged to a functional gene cluster with shared regulatory elements.
doi:10.1126/science.1213506
PMCID: PMC3671610  PMID: 22282472
7.  Identification of Mutations Underlying 20 Inborn Errors of Metabolism in the United Arab Emirates Population 
Inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) are frequently encountered by physicians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, the mutations underlying a large number of these disorders have not yet been determined. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify the mutations underlying a number of IEM disorders among UAE residents from both national and expatriate families. A case series of patients from 34 families attending the metabolic clinic at Tawam Hospital were clinically evaluated, and molecular testing was carried out to determine their causative mutations. The mutation analysis was carried out at molecular genetics diagnostic laboratories. Thirty-eight mutations have been identified as responsible for twenty IEM disorders, including in the metabolism of amino acids, lipids, steroids, metal transport and mitochondrial energy metabolism, and lysosomal storage disorders. Nine of the identified mutations are novel, including two missense mutations, three premature stop codons and four splice site mutations. Mutation analysis of IEM disorders in the UAE population has an important impact on molecular diagnosis and genetic counseling for families affected by these disorders.
doi:10.1089/gtmb.2011.0175
PMCID: PMC3354585  PMID: 22106832
8.  In search of triallelism in Bardet–Biedl syndrome 
Bardet–Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a model disease for ciliopathy in humans. The remarkable genetic heterogeneity that characterizes this disease is consistent with accumulating data on the interaction between the proteins encoded by the 14 BBS genes identified to date. Previous reports suggested that such interaction may also extend to instances of oligogenic inheritance in the form of triallelism which defies the long held view of BBS as an autosomal recessive disease. In order to investigate the magnitude of triallelism in BBS, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of all 14 BBS genes as well as the CCDC28B-modifier gene in a cohort of 29 BBS families, most of which are multiplex. Two in trans mutations in a BBS gene were identified in each of these families for a total of 20 mutations including 12 that are novel. In no instance did we observe two mutations in unaffected members of a given family, or observe the presence of a third allele that convincingly acted as a modifier of penetrance and supported the triallelic model of BBS. In addition to presenting a comprehensive genotype/phenotype overview of a large set of BBS mutations, including the occurrence of nonsyndromic retinitis pigmentosa in a family with a novel BBS9 mutation, our study argues in favor of straightforward autosomal recessive BBS in most cases.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.205
PMCID: PMC3306854  PMID: 22353939
epistasis; oligogenic; penetrance; modifiers
10.  A missense founder mutation in VLDLR is associated with Dysequilibrium Syndrome without quadrupedal locomotion 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:80.
Background
Dysequilibrium syndrome is a genetically heterogeneous condition that combines autosomal recessive, nonprogressive cerebellar ataxia with mental retardation. The condition has been classified into cerebellar ataxia, mental retardation and disequilibrium syndrome types 1 (CAMRQ1), 2 (CAMRQ2) and 3 (CAMRQ3) and attributed to mutations in VLDLR, CA8 and WDR81 genes, respectively. Quadrupedal locomotion in this syndrome has been reported in association with mutations in all three genes.
Methods
SNP mapping and candidate gene sequencing in one consanguineous Omani family from the United Arab Emirates with cerebellar hypoplasia, moderate mental retardation, delayed ambulation and truncal ataxia was used to identify the mutation. In a second unrelated consanguineous Omani family, massively parallel exonic sequencing was used.
Results
We identified a homozygous missense mutation (c.2117 G > T, p.C706F) in the VLDLR gene in both families on a shared affected haplotype block.This is the first reported homozygous missense mutation in VLDLR and it occurs in a highly conserved residue and predicted to be damaging to protein function.
Conclusions
We have delineated the phenotype associated with dysequilibrium syndrome in two Omani families and identified the first homozygous missense pathogenic mutation in VLDLR gene with likely founder effect in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-80
PMCID: PMC3495048  PMID: 22973972
11.  A mutation in KIF7 is responsible for the autosomal recessive syndrome of macrocephaly, multiple epiphyseal dysplasia and distinctive facial appearance 
Background
We previously reported the existence of a unique autosomal recessive syndrome consisting of macrocephaly, multiple epiphyseal dysplasia and distinctive facial appearance mapping to chromosome 15q26.
Methods
In this manuscript, we have used whole exome sequencing on two affected members of a consanguineous family with this condition and carried out detailed bioinformatics analysis to elucidate the causative mutation.
Results
Our analysis resulted in the identification of a homozygous p.N1060S missense mutation in a highly conserved residue in KIF7, a regulator of Hedgehog signaling that has been recently found to be causing Joubert syndrome, fetal hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes. The phenotype in our patients partially overlaps with the phenotypes associated with those syndromes but they also exhibit some distinctive features including multiple epiphyseal dysplasia.
Conclusions
We report the first missense homozygous disease-causing mutation in KIF7 and expand the clinical spectrum associated with mutations in this gene to include multiple epiphyseal dysplasia. The missense nature of the mutation might account for the unique presentation in our patients.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-7-27
PMCID: PMC3492204  PMID: 22587682
KIF7; Acrocallosal; Joubert; Sonic hedgehog; Dysmorphism; Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia; Fetal hydrolethalus
12.  Endoplasmic Reticulum Quality Control Is Involved in the Mechanism of Endoglin-Mediated Hereditary Haemorrhagic Telangiectasia 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26206.
Hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is an autosomal dominant genetic condition affecting the vascular system and is characterised by epistaxis, arteriovenous malformations and mucocutaneous and gastrointestinal telangiectases. This disorder affects approximately 1 in 8,000 people worldwide. Significant morbidity is associated with this condition in affected individuals, and anaemia can be a consequence of repeated haemorrhages from telangiectasia in the gut and nose. In the majority of the cases reported, the condition is caused by mutations in either ACVRL1 or endoglin genes, which encode components of the TGF-beta signalling pathway. Numerous missense mutations in endoglin have been reported as causative defects for HHT but the exact underlying cellular mechanisms caused by these mutations have not been fully established despite data supporting a role for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) quality control machinery. For this reason, we examined the subcellular trafficking of twenty-five endoglin disease-causing missense mutations. The mutant proteins were expressed in HeLa and HEK293 cell lines, and their subcellular localizations were established by confocal fluorescence microscopy alongside the analysis of their N-glycosylation profiles. ER quality control was found to be responsible in eight (L32R, V49F, C53R, V125D, A160D, P165L, I271N and A308D) out of eleven mutants located on the orphan extracellular domain in addition to two (C363Y and C382W) out of thirteen mutants in the Zona Pellucida (ZP) domain. In addition, a single intracellular domain missense mutant was examined and found to traffic predominantly to the plasma membrane. These findings support the notion of the involvement of the ER's quality control in the mechanism of a significant number, but not all, missense endoglin mutants found in HHT type 1 patients. Other mechanisms including loss of interactions with signalling partners as well as adverse effects on functional residues are likely to be the cause of the mutant proteins' loss of function.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026206
PMCID: PMC3194820  PMID: 22022569
13.  Loss of the BMP Antagonist, SMOC-1, Causes Ophthalmo-Acromelic (Waardenburg Anophthalmia) Syndrome in Humans and Mice 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(7):e1002114.
Ophthalmo-acromelic syndrome (OAS), also known as Waardenburg Anophthalmia syndrome, is defined by the combination of eye malformations, most commonly bilateral anophthalmia, with post-axial oligosyndactyly. Homozygosity mapping and subsequent targeted mutation analysis of a locus on 14q24.2 identified homozygous mutations in SMOC1 (SPARC-related modular calcium binding 1) in eight unrelated families. Four of these mutations are nonsense, two frame-shift, and two missense. The missense mutations are both in the second Thyroglobulin Type-1 (Tg1) domain of the protein. The orthologous gene in the mouse, Smoc1, shows site- and stage-specific expression during eye, limb, craniofacial, and somite development. We also report a targeted pre-conditional gene-trap mutation of Smoc1 (Smoc1tm1a) that reduces mRNA to ∼10% of wild-type levels. This gene-trap results in highly penetrant hindlimb post-axial oligosyndactyly in homozygous mutant animals (Smoc1tm1a/tm1a). Eye malformations, most commonly coloboma, and cleft palate occur in a significant proportion of Smoc1tm1a/tm1a embryos and pups. Thus partial loss of Smoc-1 results in a convincing phenocopy of the human disease. SMOC-1 is one of the two mammalian paralogs of Drosophila Pentagone, an inhibitor of decapentaplegic. The orthologous gene in Xenopus laevis, Smoc-1, also functions as a Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP) antagonist in early embryogenesis. Loss of BMP antagonism during mammalian development provides a plausible explanation for both the limb and eye phenotype in humans and mice.
Author Summary
Ophthalmo-acromelic syndrome (OAS) is a rare congenital genetic disorder involving complete absence of the eyes and limb malformations, with missing or fused bones in the feet and hands. In this paper we report the identification of genetic changes to both copies of the SMOC1 gene as the cause of most cases of OAS. We have identified eight different mutations in this gene in unrelated individuals, and six of these mutations are predicted to completely abolish SMOC-1 function. We have also genetically disrupted the mouse Smoc1 gene to produce only 10% of normal levels. These animals, called Smoc1tm1a/tm1a mice, have similar hindlimb malformations to those seen in the limbs of human OAS patients, resulting in missing toes in some mice and fusion of toes in others. Smoc1tm1a/tm1a embryos and pups also have eye malformations but these are milder than those seen in human cases, perhaps because, unlike the human cases, the mice still have some residual function of the gene. We suggest that the normal function of SMOC-1 may be to regulate an important class of growth factors, called Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs), which are essential for normal embryonic development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002114
PMCID: PMC3131273  PMID: 21750680
14.  Mutations in the Human Laminin β2 (LAMB2) Gene and the Associated Phenotypic Spectrum 
Human mutation  2010;31(9):992-1002.
Mutations of LAMB2 typically cause autosomal recessive Pierson syndrome, a disorder characterized by congenital nephrotic syndrome, ocular and neurologic abnormalities, but may occasionally be associated with milder or oligosymptomatic disease variants. LAMB2 encodes the basement membrane protein laminin β2 which is incorporated in specific heterotrimeric laminin isoforms and has an expression pattern corresponding to the pattern of organ manifestations in Pierson syndrome. Herein we review all previously reported and several novel LAMB2 mutations in relation to the associated phenotype in patients from 39 unrelated families. The majority of disease-causing LAMB2 mutations are truncating, consistent with the hypothesis that loss of laminin β2 function is the molecular basis of Pierson syndrome. While truncating mutations are distributed across the entire gene, missense mutations are clearly clustered in the N-terminal LN domain, which is important for intermolecular interactions. There is an association of missense mutations and small in frame deletions with a higher mean age at onset of renal disease and with absence of neurologic abnormalities, thus suggesting that at least some of these may represent hypomorphic alleles. Nevertheless, genotype alone does not appear to explain the full range of clinical variability, and therefore hitherto unidentified modifiers are likely to exist.
doi:10.1002/humu.21304
PMCID: PMC2978072  PMID: 20556798
LAMB2; Pierson syndrome; nephrotic syndrome; autosomal recessive; podocyte; laminin; ocular malformation
15.  SRD5A3 is required for the conversion of polyprenol to dolichol, essential for N-linked protein glycosylation 
Cell  2010;142(2):203-217.
SUMMARY
N-linked glycosylation is the most frequent modification of secreted and membrane-bound proteins in eukaryotic cells, disruption of which is the basis of the Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDG). We describe a new type of CDG caused by mutations in the steroid 5α-reductase type 3 (SRD5A3) gene. Patients have mental retardation, ophthalmologic and cerebellar defects. We found that SRD5A3 is necessary for the reduction of the alpha-isoprene unit of polyprenols to form dolichols, required for synthesis of dolichol-linked monosaccharides and the oligosaccharide precursor used for N-glycosylation. The presence of residual dolichol in cells depleted for this enzyme suggests the existence of an unexpected alternative pathway for dolichol de novo biosynthesis. Our results thus suggest that SRD5A3 is likely to be the long-sought polyprenol reductase and reveal the genetic basis of one of the earliest steps in protein N-linked glycosylation.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2010.06.001
PMCID: PMC2940322  PMID: 20637498
N-glycosylation; dolichol; polyprenol; SRD5A3
16.  A novel NGF mutation clarifies the molecular mechanism and extends the phenotypic spectrum of the HSAN5 neuropathy 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2010;48(2):131-135.
Background
Nerve growth factor β (NGFβ) and tyrosine kinase receptor type A (TRKA) are a well studied neurotrophin/receptor duo involved in neuronal survival and differentiation. The only previously reported hereditary sensory neuropathy caused by an NGF mutation, c.661C>T (HSAN5), and the pathology caused by biallelic mutations in the TRKA gene (NTRK1) (HSAN4), share only some clinical features. A consanguineous Arab family, where five of the six children were completely unable to perceive pain, were mentally retarded, did not sweat, could not discriminate temperature, and had a chronic immunodeficiency, is reported here. The condition is linked to a new homozygous mutation in the NGF gene, c.[680C>A]+[681_682delGG].
Methods
Genetic linkage and standard sequencing techniques were used to identify the causative gene. Using wild-type or mutant over-expression constructs transfected into PC12 and COS-7 cells, the cellular and molecular consequences of the mutations were investigated.
Results
The mutant gene produced a precursor protein V232fs that was unable to differentiate PC12 cells. V232fs was not secreted from cells as mature NGFβ.
Conclusions
Both the clinical and cellular data suggest that the c.[680C>A]+[681_682delGG] NGF mutation is a functional null. The HSAN5 phenotype is extended to encompass HSAN4-like characteristics. It is concluded that the HSAN4 and HSAN5 phenotypes are parts of a phenotypic spectrum caused by changes in the NGF/TRKA signalling pathway.
doi:10.1136/jmg.2010.081455
PMCID: PMC3030776  PMID: 20978020
Clinical genetics; peripheral nerve disease
17.  Mutations in LRP2, which encodes the multiligand receptor megalin, cause Donnai-Barrow and facio-oculo-acoustico-renal syndromes 
Nature genetics  2007;39(8):957-959.
Donnai-Barrow syndrome is associated with agenesis of the corpus callosum, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, facial dysmorphology, ocular anomalies, sensorineural hearing loss and developmental delay. By studying multiplex families, we mapped this disorder to chromosome 2q23.3–31.1 and identified LRP2 mutations in six families with Donnai-Barrow syndrome and one family with facio-oculo-acoustico-renal syndrome. LRP2 encodes megalin, a multiligand uptake receptor that regulates levels of diverse circulating compounds. This work implicates a pathway with potential pharmacological therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1038/ng2063
PMCID: PMC2891728  PMID: 17632512
18.  Community genetics. Its definition 2010 
Journal of Community Genetics  2010;1(1):19-22.
This paper presents a definition of the medical field of community genetics. It starts with a brief historical overview, defines the requirements for an adequate definition, presents the definition, and discusses the constituent parts of the definition.
doi:10.1007/s12687-010-0007-z
PMCID: PMC3063846  PMID: 21475671
19.  Community genetics. Its definition 2010 
Journal of Community Genetics  2010;1(1):19-22.
This paper presents a definition of the medical field of community genetics. It starts with a brief historical overview, defines the requirements for an adequate definition, presents the definition, and discusses the constituent parts of the definition.
doi:10.1007/s12687-010-0007-z
PMCID: PMC3063846  PMID: 21475671
20.  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.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq103
PMCID: PMC2865377  PMID: 20223752
21.  Mutations in the inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase E gene link phosphatidyl inositol signaling to the ciliopathies 
Nature genetics  2009;41(9):1032-1036.
Phosphotidylinositol (PtdIns) signaling is tightly regulated, both spatially and temporally, by subcellularly localized PtdIns kinases and phosphatases that dynamically alter downstream signaling events 1. Joubert Syndrome (JS) characterized by a specific midbrain-hindbrain malformation (“molar tooth sign”) and variably associated retinal dystrophy, nephronophthisis, liver fibrosis and polydactyly 2, and is included in the newly emerging group of “ciliopathies”. In patients linking to JBTS1, we identified mutations in the INPP5E gene, encoding inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase E, which hydrolyzes the 5-phosphate of PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 and PtdIns(4,5)P2. Mutations clustered in the phosphatase domain and impaired 5-phosphatase activity, resulting in altered cellular PtdIns ratios. INPP5E localized to cilia in major organs affected in JS, and mutations promoted premature destabilization of cilia in response to stimulation. Thus, these data links PtdIns signaling to the primary cilium, a cellular structure that is becoming increasingly appreciated for its role in mediating cell signals and neuronal function.
doi:10.1038/ng.423
PMCID: PMC2746682  PMID: 19668216
22.  Molecular and clinical analysis of Ellis-van Creveld syndrome in the United Arab Emirates 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:33.
Background
Ellis-van Creveld (EvC) syndrome is an autosomal recessive chondrodysplastic condition with clinical manifestations that include short-limbs and ribs, postaxial polydactyly and dysplastic nails and teeth. In about two thirds of patients, mutations in either EVC or EVC2 genes have been found to be the underlying cause.
Methods
In this paper, we describe the molecular (DNA sequencing) and clinical analysis of six children diagnosed with EvC from four different families from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Results
All the children had the common clinical and radiological features of this syndrome. However, DNA sequence analysis of the genes shown to be involved (EVC and EVC2) revealed a novel splice site mutation (c.2047-1G>T) in intron 13 of EVC2 gene in one family. In addition, we confirm previous mutational analyses that showed a truncating mutation in exon 13 of EVC gene (c.1813C>T; p.Q605X) in the second family and a single nucleotide deletion (c.981delG; p.K327fs) in exon 8 of EVC2 gene in the third family. No mutations in the exons, splice sites or the promoter regions of either gene have been found in the index case of the fourth family who exhibited "EvC-like" features.
Conclusions
Given the small population size of UAE, our data illustrates further the molecular heterogeneity observed in EvC patients and excludes the possibility of a common founder effect for this condition in the UAE reflecting the current ethnic diversity of the country.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-33
PMCID: PMC2845574  PMID: 20184732
23.  Defective cellular trafficking of missense NPR-B mutants is the major mechanism underlying acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;18(2):267-277.
Natriuretic peptides (NPs) comprise a family of structurally related but genetically distinct hormones that regulate a variety of physiological processes such as cardiac growth, blood pressure, axonal pathfinding and endochondral ossification leading to the formation of vertebrae and long bones. The biological actions of NPs are mediated by natriuretic peptide receptors (NPRs) A, B and C that are located on the cell surface. Mutations in NPR-B have been shown to cause acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux (AMDM), a growth disorder in humans and severe dwarfism in mice. We hypothesized that missense mutations of NPR-B associated with AMDM primarily affect NPR-B function by the arrest of receptor trafficking at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), due to conformational change, rather than an impairment of ligand binding, transmission of signal through the membrane or catalytic activity. Twelve missense mutations found in AMDM patients and cn/cn mice were generated by site-directed mutagenesis and transiently overexpressed in HeLa cells. Confocal microscopy revealed that 11 out of 12 mutants were retained in the ER. Determination of the ligand-dependent cGMP response confirmed that ER-retained NPR-B mutants are non-functional. Meanwhile, the only cell surface-targeted NPR-B missense mutant (D176E) displayed greatly reduced enzymatic activity due to impaired ligand binding. Thus, in the majority of cases of AMDM associated with missense NPR-B mutation, disease appears to result from defects in the targeting of the ER receptor to the plasma membrane.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn354
PMCID: PMC2638773  PMID: 18945719
24.  Analphoid supernumerary marker chromosome characterized by aCGH and FISH as inv dup(3)(q25.33qter) de novo in a child with dysmorphic features and streaky pigmentation: case report 
Background
Small supernumerary marker chromosomes (sSMC) occur in 0.075% of unselected prenatal and in 0.044% of consecutively studied postnatal cases. Individuals with sSMC present with varying phenotype, ranging from normal to extremely mild or severe depending on the chromosomal region involved, the euchromatic content present and degree of mosaicism. Except for chromosomes 15 and 22, the number of reported cases of sSMC is extremely small to provide us with a good genotype-phenotype correlation. Analphoid sSMC are even rarer. To our knowledge only eight cases of analphoid inversion-duplication 3q sSMC are reported so far.
Results
We describe here a one month old female child with several dysmorphic features and with a de novo analphoid supernumerary marker chromosome only in cultured skin fibroblast cells and not in lymphocytes. The marker was characterized as analphoid inversion-duplication 3q25.33-qter by oligo array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) studies. The final skin fibroblast karyotype was interpreted as 47,XX,+der(3).ish inv dup(3)(qter-q25.33::q25.33-qter)(subtel 3q+,subtel 3q+) de novo.
Conclusion
In addition to the eight reported cases of analphoid inversion-duplication 3q supernumerary marker in the literature, this is yet another case of 3q sSMC with a new breakpoint at 3q25.33 and with varying phenotype as described in the case report. Identification of more and more similar cases of analphoid inversion-duplication 3q marker will help in establishing a better genotype-phenotype correlation. The study further demonstrates that aCGH in conjunction with routine cytogenetics and FISH is very useful in precisely identifying and characterizing a marker chromosome, and more importantly help in providing with an accurate genetic diagnosis and better counseling to the family.
doi:10.1186/1755-8166-1-19
PMCID: PMC2538529  PMID: 18700989
25.  Genetic disorders in the Arab world 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;333(7573):831-834.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38982.704931.AE
PMCID: PMC1618440  PMID: 17053236

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