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1.  Phenotypic spectrum and prevalence of INPP5E mutations in Joubert Syndrome and related disorders 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(10):1074-1078.
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.
PMCID: PMC3778343  PMID: 23386033
INPP5E; Joubert syndrome and related disorders; Meckel syndrome; ciliopathies
3.  The TOR1A Polymorphism rs1182 and the Risk of Spread in Primary Blepharospasm 
We studied the influence of the rs1182 polymorphism of the TOR1A gene on the risk of dystonia spread in two representative cohorts of patients presenting with primary blepharospasm (BSP), one from Italy and the other from the United States of America. The relationship between rs1182 polymorphism and spread was estimated by Kaplan-Meier survival curves and Cox proportional hazard regression models adjusted by age and sex, age of BSP onset. In both series, patients carrying the T allele (G/T or T/T) in the rs1182 polymorphism were more likely to have dystonia spread as compared with the homozygous carriers of the common G allele. The comparable findings obtained in two independent cohorts support a genetic contribution to BSP spread.
PMCID: PMC4167593  PMID: 19202559
TOR1A; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; blepharospasm; primary adult-onset; dystonia; spread
4.  De Novo 13q13.3-21.31 deletion involving RB1 gene in a patient with hemangioendothelioma of the liver 
Interstitial deletions of the long arm of chromosome 13 (13q) are related with variable phenotypes, according to the size and the location of the deleted region. The main clinical features are moderate/severe mental and growth retardation, cranio-facial dysmorphism, variable congenital defects and increased susceptibility to tumors. Here we report a 3-year-old girl carrying a de novo 13q13.3-21.32 interstitial deletion. She showed developmental delay, growth retardation and mild dysmorphism including curly hair, high forehead, short nose, thin upper lip and long philtrum. An abnormal mass was surgically removed from her liver resulting in a hemangioendothelioma. Array analysis allowed us to define a deleted region of about 27.87 Mb, which includes the RB1 gene. This is the first report of a 13q deletion associated with infantile hemangioendothelioma of the liver.
PMCID: PMC3896849  PMID: 24433316
RB1; Tumor; Hemangioendothelioma; Liver; Chromosome 13q; Deletion; Syndrome
5.  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.
PMCID: PMC3671610  PMID: 22282472
6.  The phenotype of Floating-Harbor syndrome: clinical characterization of 52 individuals with mutations in exon 34 of SRCAP 
Floating-Harbor syndrome (FHS) is a rare condition characterized by short stature, delays in expressive language, and a distinctive facial appearance. Recently, heterozygous truncating mutations in SRCAP were determined to be disease-causing. With the availability of a DNA based confirmatory test, we set forth to define the clinical features of this syndrome.
Methods and results
Clinical information on fifty-two individuals with SRCAP mutations was collected using standardized questionnaires. Twenty-four males and twenty-eight females were studied with ages ranging from 2 to 52 years. The facial phenotype and expressive language impairments were defining features within the group. Height measurements were typically between minus two and minus four standard deviations, with occipitofrontal circumferences usually within the average range. Thirty-three of the subjects (63%) had at least one major anomaly requiring medical intervention. We did not observe any specific phenotype-genotype correlations.
This large cohort of individuals with molecularly confirmed FHS has allowed us to better delineate the clinical features of this rare but classic genetic syndrome, thereby facilitating the development of management protocols.
PMCID: PMC3659005  PMID: 23621943
SRCAP; Floating Harbor syndrome; Phenotype; Short stature
7.  Kinematic and Diffusion Tensor Imaging Definition of Familial Marcus Gunn Jaw-Winking Synkinesis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51749.
Marcus Gunn jaw-winking synkinesis (MGJWS) is characterized by eyelid ptosis, which disappears during jaw movement. Familial MGJWS is an extremely rare condition. Some authors suggested that MGJWS is due to neural misdirection in the brainstem whereas others suggested that aberrant reinnervation or ephapse may be responsible for synkinetic activity. Pathogenesis of this condition is therefore still unclear.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To investigate pathogenetic mechanism in familial MGJWS we performed neurophysiological (EMG, Blink Reflex, Recovery cycle of the R2 component of the blink reflex, Masseter inhibitory reflex, BAEPS and kinematic analysis) and neuroradiological (MRI, Diffusion Tensor Imaging) investigations in a member of a multigenerational family with autosomal dominant Marcus Gunn jaw-winking synkinesis (MGJWS). Kinematic analysis of eyelid and jaw movements disclosed a similar onset and offset of the eyelid and jaw in both the opening and closing phases. The excitability of brainstem circuits, as assessed by the blink reflex recovery cycle and recovery index, was normal. Diffusion Tensor Imaging revealed reduced fractional anisotropy within the midbrain tegmentum.
Kinematic and MRI findings point to a brainstem structural abnormality in our familial MGJWS patient thus supporting the hypothesis of a neural misdirection of trigeminal motor axons to the elevator palpebralis muscle.
PMCID: PMC3524082  PMID: 23284759
9.  CEP41 is mutated in Joubert syndrome and is required for tubulin glutamylation at the cilium 
Nature Genetics  2012;44(2):193-199.
Tubulin glutamylation is a post-translational modification (PTM) occurring predominantly on ciliary axonemal tubulin and has been suggested to be important for ciliary function 1,2. However, its relationship to disorders of the primary cilium, termed ‘ciliopathies’, has not been explored. Here, in Joubert syndrome (JBTS) 3, we identify the JBTS15 locus and the responsible gene as CEP41, encoding a centrosomal protein of 41 KDa 4. We show that CEP41 is localized to the basal body/primary cilium, and regulates the ciliary entry of TTLL6, an evolutionarily conserved polyglutamylase enzyme 5. Depletion of CEP41 causes ciliopathy-related phenotypes in zebrafish and mouse, and induces cilia axonemal glutamylation defects. Our data identify loss of CEP41 as a cause of JBTS ciliopathy and highlight involvement of tubulin PTM in pathogenesis of the ciliopathy spectrum.
PMCID: PMC3267856  PMID: 22246503
10.  Delineation and Diagnostic Criteria of Oral-Facial-Digital Syndrome Type VI 
Oral-Facial-Digital Syndrome type VI (OFD VI) represents a rare phenotypic subtype of Joubert syndrome and related disorders (JSRD). In the original report polydactyly, oral findings, intellectual disability, and absence of the cerebellar vermis at post-mortem characterized the syndrome. Subsequently, the molar tooth sign (MTS) has been found in patients with OFD VI, prompting the inclusion of OFD VI in JSRD. We studied the clinical, neurodevelopmental, neuroimaging, and genetic findings in a cohort of 16 patients with OFD VI. We derived the following inclusion criteria from the literature: 1) MTS and one oral finding and polydactyly, or 2) MTS and more than one typical oral finding. The OFD VI neuroimaging pattern was found to be more severe than in other JSRD subgroups and includes severe hypoplasia of the cerebellar vermis, hypoplastic and dysplastic cerebellar hemispheres, marked enlargement of the posterior fossa, increased retrocerebellar collection of cerebrospinal fluid, abnormal brainstem, and frequently supratentorial abnormalities that occasionally include characteristic hypothalamic hamartomas. Additionally, two new JSRD neuroimaging findings (ascending superior cerebellar peduncles and fused thalami) have been identified. Tongue hamartomas, additional frenula, upper lip notch, and mesoaxial polydactyly are specific findings in OFD VI, while cleft lip/palate and other types of polydactyly of hands and feet are not specific. Involvement of other organs may include ocular findings, particularly colobomas. The majority of the patients have absent motor development and profound cognitive impairment. In OFD VI, normal cognitive functions are possible, but exceptional. Sequencing of known JSRD genes in most patients failed to detect pathogenetic mutations, therefore the genetic basis of OFD VI remains unknown. Compared with other JSRD subgroups, the neurological findings and impairment of motor development and cognitive functions in OFD VI are significantly worse, suggesting a correlation with the more severe neuroimaging findings. Based on the literature and this study we suggest as diagnostic criteria for OFD VI: MTS and one or more of the following: 1) tongue hamartoma(s) and/or additional frenula and/or upper lip notch; 2) mesoaxial polydactyly of one or more hands or feet; 3) hypothalamic hamartoma.
PMCID: PMC3313869  PMID: 22236771
Joubert syndrome and related disorders; Oral-facial-digital syndrome type VI; neuroimaging; molar tooth sign; cerebellar malformation
11.  High frequency of COH1 intragenic deletions and duplications detected by MLPA in patients with Cohen syndrome 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2010;18(10):1133-1140.
Cohen syndrome is a rare, clinically variable autosomal recessive disorder characterized by mental retardation, postnatal microcephaly, facial dysmorphisms, ocular abnormalities and intermittent neutropenia. Mutations in the COH1 gene have been found in patients from different ethnic origins. However, a high percentage of patients have only one or no mutated allele. To investigate whether COH1 copy number changes account for missed mutations, we used multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) to test a group of 14 patients with Cohen syndrome. This analysis has allowed us to identify multi-exonic deletions in 11 alleles and duplications in 4 alleles. Considering our previous study, COH1 copy number variations represent 42% of total mutated alleles. To our knowledge, COH1 intragenic duplications have never been reported in Cohen syndrome. The three duplications encompassed exons 4–13, 20–30 and 57–60, respectively. Interestingly, four deletions showed the same exon coverage (exons 6–16) with respect to a deletion recently reported in a large Greek consanguineous family. Haplotype analysis suggested a possible founder effect in the Mediterranean basin. The use of MLPA was therefore crucial in identifying mutated alleles undetected by traditional techniques and in defining the extent of the deletions/duplications. Given the high percentage of identified copy number variations, we suggest that this technique could be used as the initial screening method for molecular diagnosis of Cohen syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2987453  PMID: 20461111
Cohen syndrome; COH1; MLPA
12.  Gerodermia osteodysplastica is caused by mutations in SCYL1BP1, a Rab-6 interacting golgin 
Nature Genetics  2008;40(12):1410-1412.
Gerodermia osteodysplastica (GO) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by wrinkly skin and osteoporosis. Here we demonstrate that GO is caused by loss-of-function mutations in SCYL1BP1, which is expressed at high levels in skin and osteoblasts. The protein localizes to the Golgi apparatus and interacts with Rab6, identifying SCYL1BP1 as a novel golgin. These results associate abnormalities of the secretory pathway with age-related changes in connective tissues.
PMCID: PMC3122266  PMID: 18997784
13.  Novel TMEM67 Mutations and Genotype-phenotype Correlates in Meckelin-related Ciliopathies 
Human mutation  2010;31(5):E1319-E1331.
Human ciliopathies are hereditary conditions caused by defects of proteins expressed at the primary cilium. Among ciliopathies, Joubert syndrome and related disorders (JSRD), Meckel syndrome (MKS) and nephronophthisis (NPH) present clinical and genetic overlap, being allelic at several loci. One of the most interesting gene is TMEM67, encoding the transmembrane protein meckelin. We performed mutation analysis of TMEM67 in 341 probands, including 265 JSRD representative of all clinical subgroups and 76 MKS fetuses. We identified 33 distinct mutations, of which 20 were novel, in 8/10 (80%) JS with liver involvement (COACH phenotype) and 12/76 (16%) MKS fetuses. No mutations were found in other JSRD subtypes, confirming the strong association between TMEM67 mutations and liver involvement. Literature review of all published TMEM67 mutated cases was performed to delineate genotype-phenotype correlates. In particular, comparison of the types of mutations and their distribution along the gene in lethal versus non lethal phenotypes showed in MKS patients a significant enrichment of missense mutations falling in TMEM67 exons 8 to 15, especially when in combination with a truncating mutation. These exons encode for a region of unknown function in the extracellular domain of meckelin.
PMCID: PMC2918781  PMID: 20232449
TMEM67; MKS3; Joubert syndrome; Meckel syndrome; congenital hepatic fibrosis; COACH syndrome
14.  Mutations in TMEM216 perturb ciliogenesis and cause Joubert, Meckel and related syndromes 
Nature genetics  2010;42(7):619-625.
Joubert syndrome (JBTS), related disorders (JSRD) and Meckel syndrome (MKS) are ciliopathies. We now report that MKS2 and JBTS2 loci are allelic and due to mutations in TMEM216, encoding an uncharacterized tetraspan transmembrane protein. JBTS2 patients displayed frequent nephronophthisis and polydactytly, and two cases conformed to the Oro-Facio-Digital type VI phenotype, whereas skeletal dysplasia was common in MKS fetuses. A single p.R73L mutation was identified in all patients of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (n=10). TMEM216 localized to the base of primary cilia, and loss of TMEM216 in patient fibroblasts or following siRNA knockdown caused defective ciliogenesis and centrosomal docking, with concomitant hyperactivation of RhoA and Dishevelled. TMEM216 complexed with Meckelin, encoded by a gene also mutated in JSRD and MKS. Abrogation of tmem216 expression in zebrafish led to gastrulation defects that overlap with other ciliary morphants. The data implicate a new family of proteins in the ciliopathies, and further support allelism between ciliopathy disorders.
PMCID: PMC2894012  PMID: 20512146
15.  AHI1 is required for outer segment development and is a modifier for retinal degeneration in nephronophthisis 
Nature genetics  2010;42(2):175-180.
Photoreceptor degeneration is a common feature of ciliopathies, owing to the importance of the highly specialized ciliary structure of these cells. Absence of AHI1, which encodes a cilium-localized protein, has been shown to cause a form of Joubert syndrome highly penetrant for retinal degeneration1,2. We show that Ahi1 knockout mice fail to form outer segments (OS), and show abnormal distribution of opsin throughout photoreceptors. Apoptotic cell death occurs rapidly between 2-4 weeks of age and is significantly delayed by reduced dosage of opsin. This phenotype also displays dosage-sensitive genetic interactions with Nphp1, another ciliopathy gene. Although not a primary cause of retinal blindness in humans, an allele of AHI1 modifies the relative risk of retinal degeneration greater than 7 fold within a nephronophthisis cohort. Our data support context-specific roles for AHI1 as a contributor to retinopathy and may explain a proportion of the variability of retinal phenotypes observed in nephronophthisis.
PMCID: PMC2884967  PMID: 20081859
16.  Joubert Syndrome and related disorders 
Joubert syndrome (JS) and related disorders (JSRD) are a group of developmental delay/multiple congenital anomalies syndromes in which the obligatory hallmark is the molar tooth sign (MTS), a complex midbrain-hindbrain malformation visible on brain imaging, first recognized in JS. Estimates of the incidence of JSRD range between 1/80,000 and 1/100,000 live births, although these figures may represent an underestimate. The neurological features of JSRD include hypotonia, ataxia, developmental delay, intellectual disability, abnormal eye movements, and neonatal breathing dysregulation. These may be associated with multiorgan involvement, mainly retinal dystrophy, nephronophthisis, hepatic fibrosis and polydactyly, with both inter- and intra-familial variability. JSRD are classified in six phenotypic subgroups: Pure JS; JS with ocular defect; JS with renal defect; JS with oculorenal defects; JS with hepatic defect; JS with orofaciodigital defects. With the exception of rare X-linked recessive cases, JSRD follow autosomal recessive inheritance and are genetically heterogeneous. Ten causative genes have been identified to date, all encoding for proteins of the primary cilium or the centrosome, making JSRD part of an expanding group of diseases called "ciliopathies". Mutational analysis of causative genes is available in few laboratories worldwide on a diagnostic or research basis. Differential diagnosis must consider in particular the other ciliopathies (such as nephronophthisis and Senior-Loken syndrome), distinct cerebellar and brainstem congenital defects and disorders with cerebro-oculo-renal manifestations. Recurrence risk is 25% in most families, although X-linked inheritance should also be considered. The identification of the molecular defect in couples at risk allows early prenatal genetic testing, whereas fetal brain neuroimaging may remain uninformative until the end of the second trimester of pregnancy. Detection of the MTS should be followed by a diagnostic protocol to assess multiorgan involvement. Optimal management requires a multidisciplinary approach, with particular attention to respiratory and feeding problems in neonates and infants. Cognitive and behavioral assessments are also recommended to provide young patients with adequate neuropsychological support and rehabilitation. After the first months of life, global prognosis varies considerably among JSRD subgroups, depending on the extent and severity of organ involvement.
PMCID: PMC2913941  PMID: 20615230
17.  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.
PMCID: PMC2746682  PMID: 19668216
18.  MKS3/TMEM67 Mutations Are a Major Cause of COACH Syndrome, a Joubert Syndrome Related Disorder with Liver Involvement 
Human mutation  2009;30(2):E432-E442.
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.
PMCID: PMC2635428  PMID: 19058225
COACH syndrome; MKS3; TMEM67; Joubert syndrome and related disorders; congenital hepatic fibrosis
19.  RPGRIP1L mutations are mainly associated with the cerebellorenal phenotype of Joubert Syndrome Related Disorders 
Clinical genetics  2008;74(2):164-170.
Joubert Syndrome Related Disorders (JSRDs) are autosomal recessive pleiotropic conditions sharing a peculiar cerebellar and brainstem malformation known as the “molar tooth sign” (MTS). Recently, mutations in a novel ciliary gene, RPGRIP1L, have been shown to cause both JSRDs and Meckel-Gruber syndrome. We searched for RPGRIP1L mutations in 120 patients with proven MTS and phenotypes representative of all JSRD clinical subgroups. Two homozygous mutations, the previously reported p.T615P in exon 15 and the novel c.2268_2269delA in exon 16, were detected in two out of 16 families with cerebello-renal presentation (~12%). Conversely, no pathogenic changes were found in patients with other JSRD phenotypes, suggesting that RPGRIP1L mutations are largely confined to the cerebello-renal subgroup, while they overall represent a rare cause of JSRD (<2%).
PMCID: PMC2752690  PMID: 18565097
RPGRIP1L; Joubert Syndrome Related Disorders; molar tooth sign; nephronophthisis
20.  KBG syndrome 
KBG syndrome is a rare condition characterised by a typical facial dysmorphism, macrodontia of the upper central incisors, skeletal (mainly costovertebral) anomalies and developmental delay. To date, KBG syndrome has been reported in 45 patients. Clinical features observed in more than half of patients that may support the diagnosis are short stature, electroencephalogram (EEG) anomalies (with or without seizures) and abnormal hair implantation. Cutaneous syndactyly, webbed short neck, cryptorchidism, hearing loss, palatal defects, strabismus and congenital heart defects are less common findings. Autosomal dominant transmission has been observed in some families, and it is predominantly the mother, often showing a milder clinical picture, that transmits the disease. The diagnosis is currently based solely on clinical findings as the aetiology is unknown. The final diagnosis is generally achieved after the eruption of upper permanent central incisors at 7–8 years of age when the management of possible congenital anomalies should have been already planned. A full developmental assessment should be done at diagnosis and, if delays are noted, an infant stimulation program should be initiated. Subsequent management and follow-up should include an EEG, complete orthodontic evaluation, skeletal investigation with particular regard to spine curvatures and limb asymmetry, hearing testing and ophthalmologic assessment.
PMCID: PMC1764006  PMID: 17163996

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