Focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs) constitute a prevalent cause of intractable epilepsy in children, and one of the leading conditions requiring epilepsy surgery. Despite the recent advances on the cellular and molecular biology of these conditions, the pathogenetic mechanisms of FCDs remain largely unknown. The purpose if this work is to review the molecular underpinnings of FCDs and to highlight potential therapeutic targets.
A systematic review of the literature regarding the histological, molecular, and electrophysiological aspects of FCDs was conducted.
Disruption of the mTOR signaling comprises a common pathway underlying the structural and electrical disturbances of some FCDs. Other mechanisms such as viral infections, prematurity, head trauma, and brain tumors are also posited. mTOR inhibitors (i.e., rapamycin) have shown positive results on seizure management in animal models and in a small cohort of patients with FCD.
Encouraging progresses have been achieved on the molecular and electrophysiological basis of constitutive cells in the dysplastic tissue. Despite the promising results of mTOR inhibitors, large-scale randomized trials are in need to evaluate their efficacy and side effects, along with additional mechanistic studies for the development of novel, molecular-based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
Purpose of review
Ciliopathies are genetic disorders caused by defects of primary ciliary structure and/or function and are characterized by pleiotropic clinical features. The ciliopathies include several partially overlapping syndromes such as Joubert syndrome, Bardet–Biedl syndrome and Meckel–Gruber syndrome, all of which have pronounced neurodevelopmental features. Here we focus on potential roles of cilia in central nervous system function, to explore how impairments may cause brain malformation and neurodevelopmental disease.
Cilia have long been considered as ‘sensory cellular antennae’, responding as chemo-sensors, mechano-sensors and thermo-sensors, although their roles in development were not well understood until recently. The surprising finding that disparate syndromes are all due to defects of the primary cilia, along with the recent advances in genetics, has helped elucidate further roles of primary cilia beyond sensory functions. Several molecules that are associated with key signaling pathways have been discovered in primary cilia. These include sonic hedgehog, wingless, planar cell polarity and fibroblast growth factor, which are essential for many cellular processes. Additionally, mutations in ‘ciliome’ genes have largely shown developmental defects such as abnormal body axis and brain malformation, implying disrupted cilia-related signaling pathways. Accordingly, the emerging theme is that primary cilia may play roles as modulators of signal transduction to help shape cellular responses within the environmental context during both development and homeostasis.
The link between cilia and signal pathways has become a framework for understanding the pathogenesis of ciliopathies. Despite recent progress in ciliary biology, fundamental questions remain about how cilia regulate neuronal function in the central nervous system. Therefore, investigation of ciliary function in the nervous system may reveal cilia-modulating mechanisms in neurodevelopmental processes, as well as suggest new treatments for disease.
brain; central nervous system; cilia; ciliopathy; Joubert syndrome; neuron; signaling pathways
In the September 12, 2013 issue of Nature, the Epi4K consortium and the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project (EPGP) reported sequencing 264 patient trios with epileptic encephalopathies. The consortia focused on genes exceptionally intolerant to sequence variations and found substantial interconnections with autism and intellectual disability gene networks.
A group of disorders with disparate symptomatology, including congenital cerebellar ataxia, retinal blindness, liver fibrosis, polycystic kidney disease, and polydactyly, have recently been united under a single disease mechanism called ‘ciliopathies’. The ciliopathies are due to defects of the cellular antenna known as the primary cilium, a microtubule-based extension of cellular membranes found in nearly all cell types. Key among these ciliopathies is Joubert syndrome, displaying ataxia, oculomotor apraxia, and mental retardation* with a pathognomonic ‘molar tooth sign’ on brain magnetic resonance imaging. The importance of ciliary function in neuronal development has been appreciated only in the last decade with the classification of Joubert syndrome as a ciliopathy. This, together with the identification of many of the clinical features of ciliopathies in individuals with Joubert syndrome and the localization of Joubert syndrome’s causative gene products at or near the primary cilium, have defined a new class of neurological disease. Cilia are involved in diverse cellular processes including protein trafficking, photoreception, embryonic axis patterning, and cell cycle regulation. Ciliary dysfunction can affect a single tissue or manifest as multi-organ involvement. Ciliary defects have been described in retinopathies such as retinitis pigmentosa and Leber congenital amaurosis (defects in photoreceptor ciliary protein complexes), renal syndromes with nephronophthisis and cystic dysplastic kidneys, and liver conditions such as fibrosis and biliary cirrhosis. Recognizing the diverse presentations of the ciliopathies and screening strategies following diagnosis is an important part of the treatment plan of children with cilia-related disorders.
Acute gene inactivation using short hairpin RNA (shRNA, knockdown) in developing brain is a powerful technique to study genetic function, however, discrepancies between knockdown and knockout murine phenotypes have left unanswered questions. For example, doublecortin (Dcx) knockdown but not knockout shows a neocortical neuronal migration phenotype. Here we report that in utero electroporation of shRNA, but not siRNA or miRNA to Dcx demonstrates a migration phenotype in Dcx knockouts akin to the effect in wildtype mice, suggesting shRNA-mediated off-target toxicity. This effect was not limited to Dcx, as it was observed in Dclk1 knockouts, as well as with a fraction of scrambled shRNAs, suggesting a sequence-dependent but not sequence-specific effect. Profiling RNAs from electroporated cells showed a defect in endogenous let7 miRNA levels, and disruption of let7 or Dicer recapitulated the migration defect. The results suggest that shRNA-mediated knockdown can produce untoward migration effects by altering endogenous miRNA pathways.
doublecortin; dcx; shRNA; miRNA; off-target; migration
Defective primary ciliogenesis or cilium stability forms the basis of human ciliopathies, including Joubert syndrome (JS), with defective cerebellar vermis development. We performed a high-content genome-wide small interfering RNA (siRNA) screen to identify genes regulating ciliogenesis as candidates for JS. We analyzed results with a supervised-learning approach, using SYSCILIA gold standard, Cildb3.0, a centriole siRNA screen and the GTex project, identifying 591 likely candidates. Intersection of this data with whole exome results from 145 individuals with unexplained JS identified six families with predominantly compound heterozygous mutations in KIAA0586. A c.428del base deletion in 0.1% of the general population was found in trans with a second mutation in an additional set of 9 of 163 unexplained JS patients. KIAA0586 is an orthologue of chick Talpid3, required for ciliogenesis and Sonic hedgehog signaling. Our results uncover a relatively high frequency cause for JS and contribute a list of candidates for future gene discoveries in ciliopathies.
Joubert syndrome is a rare disorder that affects the brain and causes physical, mental, and sometimes visual impairments. In individuals with this condition, two parts of the brain called the cerebellar vermis and the brainstem do not develop properly. This is thought to be due to defects in the development and maintenance of tiny hair-like structures called cilia, which are found on the surface of cells.
Currently, mutations in 25 different genes are known to be able to cause Joubert syndrome. However, these mutations only account for around 50% of the cases that have been studied, and the ‘unexplained’ cases suggest that mutations in other genes may also cause the disease.
Here, Roosing et al. used a technique called a ‘genome-wide siRNA screen’ to identify other genes regulating the formation of cilia that might also be connected with Joubert syndrome. This approach identified almost 600 candidate genes. The data from the screen were combined with gene sequence data from 145 individuals with unexplained Joubert syndrome. Roosing et al. found that individuals with Joubert syndrome from 15 different families had mutations in a gene called KIAA0586. In chickens and mice, this gene—known as Talpid3—is required for the formation of cilia.
Roosing et al.'s findings reveal a new gene that is involved in Joubert syndrome and also provides a list of candidate genes for future studies of other conditions caused by defects in the formation of cilia. The next challenges are to find out what causes the remaining unexplained cases of the disease and to understand what roles the genes identified in this study play in cilia.
Joubert syndrome; ciliopathy; siRNA; high-content screen; KIAA0586; Talpid3; human
Joubert syndrome (JS) is an autosomal recessive condition characterized by hypotonia, ataxia, psychomotor delay, and variable occurrence of oculomotor apraxia and neonatal breathing abnormalities. The 11 cases were searched according to their clinic, radiologic, and mutation analysis findings, according to which they were diagnosed as JS. Physical, neurological and fundus examinations were performed in all patients. Cerebral magnetic resonance imaging scan, abdominal ultrasonography, and if necessary, echocardiography were performed. CC2D2A and ARL13B mutations were analyzed in our 11 JS patients. The mean age was 31.09±37.49 months (range: 1 month – 10 years). Two of the cases were siblings. Nine of the cases had a history of episodic hyperpnea. The other findings were hypotonia, ataxia, psychomotor retardation, and nystagmus. In all patients, the “molar tooth sign” was observed with scanning methods. In addition, cerebellar cortical dysplasia was established in one of the cases. Macrocephaly (1 patient), multiple renal cysts (1 patient), ocular coloboma (2 patients), ptosis (1 patient), congenital heart disease (1 patient), polydactyly (2 patients), and congenital hip dislocation (2 patients) were also determined. We identified mutation (c.C4452T → p.R1518W) in CC2D2A in two patients. JS can show heterogeneity clinically, neuroradiologically and genetically. Determination of the symptoms, early diagnosis and genetic consultation are the goals for decision-making to begin treatment and rehabilitation programs.
Joubert syndrome; clinical and radiological findings; mutation analysis
Pontocerebellar hypoplasia consists of a rare heterogeneous group of congenital neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by hypoplasia and atrophy of the cerebellar cortex, dentate and pontine nuclei, and inferior olives. The very low density lipoprotein receptor protein is an integral part of the reelin signaling pathway, which guides neuroblast migration in the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Mutations in this receptor cause nonprogressive cerebellar ataxia, mental retardation, and cerebellar hypoplasia. In this report, we present 3 patients from 2 different families displaying very low density lipoprotein receptor–associated pontocerebellar hypoplasia, cortical dysplasia, mental retardation, and bipedal gait. One of the siblings has also displayed dysmorphic features, as we previously reported before the identification of the genetic defect in this family.
pontocerebellar hypoplasia; VLDLR mutation; dysmorphic features; reelin
The translation of “next-generation” sequencing directly to the clinic is still being assessed but has the potential for genetic diseases to reduce costs, advance accuracy, and point to unsuspected yet treatable conditions. To study its capability in the clinic, we performed whole-exome sequencing in 118 probands with a diagnosis of a pediatric-onset neurodevelopmental disease in which most known causes had been excluded. Twenty-two genes not previously identified as disease-causing were identified in this study (19% of cohort), further establishing exome sequencing as a useful tool for gene discovery. New genes identified included EXOC8 in Joubert syndrome and GFM2 in a patient with microcephaly, simplified gyral pattern, and insulin-dependent diabetes. Exome sequencing uncovered 10 probands (8% of cohort) with mutations in genes known to cause a disease different from the initial diagnosis. Upon further medical evaluation, these mutations were found to account for each pro-band's disease, leading to a change in diagnosis, some of which led to changes in patient management. Our data provide proof of principle that genomic strategies are useful in clarifying diagnosis in a proportion of patients with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Primary cilia were the largely neglected non-motile counterparts of their better-known cousin, the motile cilia. For years these non-motile cilia were considered evolutionary remnants of little consequence to cellular function. Fast-forward 10 years and we now recognize primary cilia as key integrators of extracellular ligand-based signaling and cellular polarity, which regulate neuronal cell fate, migration differentiation, as well as a host of adult behaviors. Important future questions will focus on structure-function relationships, their roles in signaling and disease, and as areas of target for treatments.
primary cilium; ciliopathies; nervous system; development; treatment
De novo somatic mutations in focal areas are well documented in diseases such as neoplasia but are rarely reported in malformation of the developing brain. Hemimegalencephaly (HME) is characterized by overgrowth of either one of the two cerebral hemispheres. The molecular etiology of HME remains a mystery. The intractable epilepsy that is associated with HME can be relieved by the surgical treatment hemispherectomy, allowing sampling of diseased tissue. Exome sequencing and mass spectrometry analysis in paired brain-blood samples from individuals with HME (n = 20 cases) identified de novo somatic mutations in 30% of affected individuals in the PIK3CA, AKT3 and MTOR genes. A recurrent PIK3CA c.1633G>A mutation was found in four separate cases. Identified mutations were present in 8–40% of sequenced alleles in various brain regions and were associated with increased neuronal S6 protein phosphorylation in the brains of affected individuals, indicating aberrant activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. Thus HME is probably a genetically mosaic disease caused by gain of function in phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT3-mTOR signaling.
Defects in centrosome, centrosomal-associated and spindle-associated proteins are the most frequent cause of Primary Microcephaly (PM) and Microcephalic Primordial Dwarfism (MPD) syndromes in humans. Mitotic progression and segregation defects, microtubule spindle abnormalities and impaired DNA damage-induced G2-M cell cycle checkpoint proficiency have been documented in cell lines from these patients. This suggests that impaired mitotic entry, progression and exit strongly contribute to PM and MPD. Considering the vast protein networks involved in coordinating this cell cycle stage, the list of potential target genes that could underlie novel developmental disorders is large. One such complex network, with a direct microtubule-mediated physical connection to the centrosome, is the kinetochore. This centromeric-associated structure nucleates microtubule attachments onto mitotic chromosomes. Here, we described novel compound heterozygous variants in CENPE in two siblings who exhibit a profound MPD associated with developmental delay, simplified gyri and other isolated abnormalities. CENPE encodes centromere-associated protein E (CENP-E), a core kinetochore component functioning to mediate chromosome congression initially of misaligned chromosomes and in subsequent spindle microtubule capture during mitosis. Firstly, we present a comprehensive clinical description of these patients. Then, using patient cells we document abnormalities in spindle microtubule organisation, mitotic progression and segregation, before modeling the cellular pathogenicity of these variants in an independent cell system. Our cellular analysis shows that a pathogenic defect in CENP-E, a kinetochore-core protein, largely phenocopies PCNT-mutated Microcephalic Osteodysplastic Primordial Dwarfism type II patient cells. PCNT encodes a centrosome-associated protein. These results highlight a common underlying pathomechanism. Our findings provide the first evidence for a kinetochore-based route to MPD in humans.
Microcephaly; growth restriction; centromere; kinetochore; CENP-E; spindle microtubules
Neurodegenerative diseases can occur so early as to affect
neurodevelopment. From a cohort of over 2000 consanguineous families with
childhood neurological disease, we identified a founder mutation in four
independent pedigrees in cleavage and polyadenylation factor I
subunit (CLP1). CLP1 is a multifunctional kinase
implicated in tRNA, mRNA and siRNA maturation. Kinase activity of the CLP1
mutant protein was defective, and the tRNA endonuclease complex (TSEN) was
destabilized, resulting in impaired pre-tRNA cleavage. Germline
clp1 null zebrafish showed cerebellar neurodegeneration
that was rescued by wild type but not mutant human CLP1
expression. Patient-derived induced neurons displayed both depletion of mature
tRNAs and accumulation of unspliced pre-tRNAs. Transfection of partially
processed tRNA fragments into patient cells exacerbated an oxidative
stress-induced reduction in cell survival. Our data links tRNA maturation to
neuronal development and neurodegeneration through defective CLP1 function in
CLP1; tRNA splicing endonuclease complex; TSEN; ataxia; neurodegeneration
The dysfunction of the primary cilium, a complex, evolutionarily conserved, organelle playing an important role in sensing and transducing cell signals, is the unifying pathogenetic mechanism of a growing number of diseases collectively termed “ciliopathies”, typically characterized by multiorgan involvement. Developmental defects of the central nervous system (CNS) characterize a subset of ciliopathies showing clinical and genetic overlap, such as Joubert syndrome (JS) and Meckel syndrome (MS). Although several knock-out mice lacking a variety of ciliary proteins have shown the importance of primary cilia in the development of the brain and CNS-derived structures, developmental in vitro studies, extremely useful to unravel the role of primary cilia along the course of neural differentiation, are still missing.
Mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) have been recently proven to mimic brain development, giving the unique opportunity to dissect the CNS differentiation process along its sequential steps. In the present study we show that mESCs express the ciliary proteins Meckelin and Jouberin in a developmentally-regulated manner, and that these proteins co-localize with acetylated tubulin labeled cilia located at the outer embryonic layer. Further, mESCs differentiating along the neuronal lineage activate the cilia-dependent sonic hedgehog signaling machinery, which is impaired in Meckelin knockout cells but results unaffected in Jouberin-deficient mESCs. However, both lose the ability to acquire a neuronal phenotype. Altogether, these results demonstrate a pivotal role of Meckelin and Jouberin during embryonic neural specification and indicate mESCs as a suitable tool to investigate the developmental impact of ciliary proteins dysfunction.
Embryonic stem cells; Neural differentiation; Primary cilium
Ciliopathies are an expanding group of rare conditions characterised by multiorgan involvement, that are caused by mutations in genes encoding for proteins of the primary cilium or its apparatus. Among these genes, CEP290 bears an intriguing allelic spectrum, being commonly mutated in Joubert syndrome and related disorders (JSRD), Meckel syndrome (MKS), Senior-Loken syndrome and isolated Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). Although these conditions are recessively inherited, in a subset of patients only one CEP290 mutation could be detected.
To assess whether genomic rearrangements involving the CEP290 gene could represent a possible mutational mechanism in these cases, exon dosage analysis on genomic DNA was performed in two groups of CEP290 heterozygous patients, including five JSRD/MKS cases and four LCA, respectively. In one JSRD patient, we identified a large heterozygous deletion encompassing CEP290 C-terminus, that resulted in marked reduction of mRNA expression. No copy number alterations were identified in the remaining probands.
The present work expands the CEP290 genotypic spectrum to include multiexon deletions. Although this mechanism does not appear to be frequent, screening for genomic rearrangements should be considered in patients in whom a single CEP290 mutated allele was identified.
Joubert syndrome and related disorders; Meckel syndrome; CEP290; genomic rearrangement
Regulation of nuclear movement is a critical event in neurogenesis and neuronal migration during brain development. In this issue of Neuron, Zhang et al. identify a role for SUN and the KASH-domain-containing nuclear membrane proteins as the long-sought linker between microtubules and the nucleus during brain development.
Joubert syndrome (JS) is characterized by a distinctive cerebellar structural defect, namely the « molar tooth sign ». JS is genetically heterogeneous, involving 18 genes identified to date, which are all required for cilia biogenesis and/or function. In a consanguineous family with JS associated with optic nerve coloboma, kidney hypoplasia and polydactyly, combined exome sequencing and mapping identified a homozygous splice site mutation in PDE6D, encoding a prenyl-binding protein. We found that pde6d depletion in zebrafish leads to renal and retinal developmental anomalies and wild-type but not mutant PDE6D is able to rescue this phenotype. Proteomic analysis identified INPP5E, whose mutations also lead to JS or MORM syndromes, as novel prenyl-dependent cargo of PDE6D. Mutant PDE6D shows reduced binding to INPP5E, which fails to localize to primary cilia in patient fibroblasts and tissues. Furthermore, mutant PDE6D is unable to bind to GTP-bound ARL3, which acts as a cargo-release factor for PDE6D-bound INPP5E. Altogether, these results indicate that PDE6D is required for INPP5E ciliary targeting and suggest a broader role for PDE6D in targeting other prenylated proteins to the cilia. This study identifies PDE6D as a novel JS disease gene and provides the first evidence of prenyl-binding dependent trafficking in ciliopathies.
Joubert syndrome; primary cilia; PDE6D; INPP5E; prenylation
Wnt signaling encompasses a variety of signaling cascades that can be activated by secreted Wnt ligands. Two such pathways, the canonical or β-catenin pathway and the planar cell polarity pathway, have recently received attention for their roles in multiple cellular processes within the kidney. Both of these pathways are important for kidney development as well as homeostasis and injury repair. Disruption of either pathway can lead to cystic kidney disease, a class of genetic diseases that includes the most common hereditary life-threatening syndrome polycystic kidney disease. Recent evidence implicates canonical and noncanonical Wnt pathways in cyst formation and points to a remarkable role for developmental processes in the adult kidney.
cyst; Wnt; cilia; ciliopathy; signaling; planar cell polarity; kidney; injury; repair; development
Joubert syndrome and related disorders (JSRD) are clinically and genetically heterogeneous ciliopathies sharing a peculiar midbrain–hindbrain malformation known as the ‘molar tooth sign'. To date, 19 causative genes have been identified, all coding for proteins of the primary cilium. There is clinical and genetic overlap with other ciliopathies, in particular with Meckel syndrome (MKS), that is allelic to JSRD at nine distinct loci. We previously identified the INPP5E gene as causative of JSRD in seven families linked to the JBTS1 locus, yet the phenotypic spectrum and prevalence of INPP5E mutations in JSRD and MKS remain largely unknown. To address this issue, we performed INPP5E mutation analysis in 483 probands, including 408 JSRD patients representative of all clinical subgroups and 75 MKS fetuses. We identified 12 different mutations in 17 probands from 11 JSRD families, with an overall 2.7% mutation frequency among JSRD. The most common clinical presentation among mutated families (7/11, 64%) was Joubert syndrome with ocular involvement (either progressive retinopathy and/or colobomas), while the remaining cases had pure JS. Kidney, liver and skeletal involvement were not observed. None of the MKS fetuses carried INPP5E mutations, indicating that the two ciliopathies are not allelic at this locus.
INPP5E; Joubert syndrome and related disorders; Meckel syndrome; ciliopathies
Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are neurodegenerative motor neuron diseases characterized by progressive age-dependent loss of corticospinal motor tract function. Although the genetic basis is partly understood, only a fraction of cases can receive a genetic diagnosis, and a global view of HSP is lacking. By using whole-exome sequencing in combination with network analysis, we identified 18 previously unknown putative HSP genes and validated nearly all of these genes functionally or genetically. The pathways highlighted by these mutations link HSP to cellular transport, nucleotide metabolism, and synapse and axon development. Network analysis revealed a host of further candidate genes, of which three were mutated in our cohort. Our analysis links HSP to other neurodegenerative disorders and can facilitate gene discovery and mechanistic understanding of disease.
Genetic diseases known as ciliopathies have recently entered the limelight, placing new importance on a previously mysterious organelle: the primary cilium. Mutations affecting the primary cilium in both humans and animal models can lead to a plethora of distinct phenotypes including retinal degeneration, kidney cysts, and brain malformations. New findings are quickly lending insight into the functions of this cellular extension that seems to be especially important in modulation of subcellular signaling cascades at various stages of development and adult homeostasis.
Primary cilia are evolutionarily conserved cellular organelles that organize diverse signaling pathways1,2. Defects in the formation or function of primary cilia are associated with a spectrum of human diseases and developmental abnormalities3. Genetic screens in model organisms have discovered core machineries of cilium assembly and maintenance4. However, regulatory molecules that coordinate the biogenesis of primary cilia with other cellular processes, including cytoskeletal organization, vesicle trafficking and cell-cell adhesion, remain to be identified. Here we report the results of a functional genomic screen using RNA interference (RNAi) to identify human genes involved in ciliogenesis control. The screen identified 36 positive and 13 negative ciliogenesis modulators, which include molecules involved in actin dynamics and vesicle trafficking. Further investigation demonstrated that blocking actin assembly facilitates ciliogenesis by stabilizing the pericentrosomal preciliary compartment (PPC), a previously uncharacterized compact vesiculotubular structure storing transmembrane proteins destined for cilia during the early phase of ciliogenesis. PPC was labeled by recycling endosome markers. Moreover, knockdown of modulators that are involved in the endocytic recycling pathway affected the formation of PPC as well as ciliogenesis. Our results uncover a critical regulatory step that couples actin dynamics and endocytic recycling with ciliogenesis, and also provide potential target molecules for future study.
We review some of the key recent findings in the field of human cortical development. This development is divided into three major time-dependent phases: neural proliferation, migration, and maturation. The cells that constitute the cerebral cortex, including both inhibitory and excitatory neurons, proliferate in spatially distinct regions. These cells then migrate through multiple cellular boundaries, one of which is known as the subplate, before achieving final positioning within the 6-layered cerebral cortex. Following this migration, neurons undergo morphological changes that result in elaboration of dendrites and axons, and establish the multitude of cellular contacts that underlie neuronal processing. Many of the neurocognitive disorders that we treat in the clinic can trace their origin to a disorder in one or more of these key steps. Along with this update, we also highlight work that offers a glimpse at the future of therapy for developmental brain disorders that can result from disorders of these cellular events.
The acronym COACH defines an autosomal recessive condition of Cerebellar vermis hypo/aplasia, Oligophrenia, congenital Ataxia, Coloboma and Hepatic fibrosis. Patients present the “molar tooth sign”, a midbrain-hindbrain malformation pathognomonic for Joubert Syndrome (JS) and Related Disorders (JSRDs). The main feature of COACH is congenital hepatic fibrosis (CHF), resulting from malformation of the embryonic ductal plate. CHF is invariably found also in Meckel syndrome (MS), a lethal ciliopathy already found to be allelic with JSRDs at the CEP290 and RPGRIP1L genes. Recently, mutations in the MKS3 gene (approved symbol TMEM67), causative of about 7% MS cases, have been detected in few Meckel-like and pure JS patients. Analysis of MKS3 in 14 COACH families identified mutations in 8 (57%). Features such as colobomas and nephronophthisis were found only in a subset of mutated cases. These data confirm COACH as a distinct JSRD subgroup with core features of JS plus CHF, which major gene is MKS3, and further strengthen gene-phenotype correlates in JSRDs.
COACH syndrome; MKS3; TMEM67; Joubert syndrome and related disorders; congenital hepatic fibrosis