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1.  Mapping the Nephronophthisis-Joubert-Meckel-Gruber Protein Network Reveals Ciliopathy Disease Genes and Pathways 
Cell  2011;145(4):513-528.
Nephronophthisis (NPHP), Joubert (JBTS) and Meckel-Gruber (MKS) syndromes are autosomal-recessive ciliopathies presenting with cystic kidneys, retinal degeneration, and cerebellar/neural tube malformation. Whether defects in kidney, retinal, or neural disease primarily involve ciliary, Hedgehog, or cell polarity pathways remains unclear. Using high-confidence proteomics, we identified 850 interactors copurifying with nine NPHP/JBTS/MKS proteins, and discovered three connected modules: “NPHP1-4-8” functioning at the apical surface; “NPHP5-6” at centrosomes; and “MKS” linked to Hedgehog signaling. Assays for ciliogenesis and epithelial morphogenesis in 3D renal cultures link renal cystic disease to apical organization defects, whereas ciliary and Hedgehog pathway defects lead to retinal or neural deficits. Using 38 interactors as candidates, linkage and sequencing analysis of 250 patients identified ATXN10 and TCTN2 as new NPHP-JBTS genes and our Tctn2 mouse knockout shows neural tube and Hedgehog signaling defects. Our study further illustrates the power of linking proteomic networks and human genetics to uncover critical disease pathways.
PMCID: PMC3383065  PMID: 21565611
2.  Nineteen novel NPHS1 mutations in a worldwide cohort of patients with congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS) 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2010;25(9):2970-2976.
Background. Recessive mutations in the NPHS1 gene encoding nephrin account for ∼40% of infants with congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS). CNS is defined as steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) within the first 90 days of life. Currently, more than 119 different mutations of NPHS1 have been published affecting most exons.
Methods. We here performed mutational analysis of NPHS1 in a worldwide cohort of 67 children from 62 different families with CNS.
Results. We found bi-allelic mutations in 36 of the 62 families (58%) confirming in a worldwide cohort that about one-half of CNS is caused by NPHS1 mutations. In 26 families, mutations were homozygous, and in 10, they were compound heterozygous. In an additional nine patients from eight families, only one heterozygous mutation was detected. We detected 37 different mutations. Nineteen of the 37 were novel mutations (∼51.4%), including 11 missense mutations, 4 splice-site mutations, 3 nonsense mutations and 1 small deletion. In an additional patient with later manifestation, we discovered two further novel mutations, including the first one affecting a glycosylation site of nephrin.
Conclusions. Our data hereby expand the spectrum of known mutations by 17.6%. Surprisingly, out of the two siblings with the homozygous novel mutation L587R in NPHS1, only one developed nephrotic syndrome before the age of 90 days, while the other one did not manifest until the age of 2 years. Both siblings also unexpectedly experienced an episode of partial remission upon steroid treatment.
PMCID: PMC2948833  PMID: 20172850
mutation analysis; nephrotic syndrome; NPHS1
3.  Candidate exome capture identifies mutation of SDCCAG8 as the cause of a retinal-renal ciliopathy 
Nature genetics  2010;42(10):840-850.
Nephronophthisis-related ciliopathies (NPHP-RC) are recessive disorders featuring dysplasia or degeneration preferentially in kidney, retina, and cerebellum. Here we combine homozygosity mapping with candidate gene analysis by performing “ciliopathy candidate exome capture” followed by massively-parallel sequencing. We detect 12 different truncating mutations of SDCCAG8 in 10 NPHP-RC families. We demonstrate that SDCCAG8 is localized at both centrioles and directly interacts with NPHP-RC-associated OFD1. Depletion of sdccag8 causes kidney cysts and a body axis defect in zebrafish and induces cell polarity defects in 3D renal cell cultures. This work identifies SDCCAG8 loss of function as a novel cause of a retinal-renal ciliopathy and validates exome capture analysis for broadly heterogeneous single-gene disorders.
PMCID: PMC2947620  PMID: 20835237
4.  Identification of 11 Novel Mutations in 8 BBS Genes by High-Resolution Homozygosity Mapping 
Journal of medical genetics  2009;47(4):262-267.
Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is primarily an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the five cardinal features retinitis pigmentosa, postaxial polydactyly, mental retardation, obesity and hypogenitalism. In addition, renal cysts and other anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract can be present. To date, mutations in 12 BBS genes as well as in MKS1 and CEP290 have been identified as causing BBS. The vast genetic heterogeneity of BBS renders molecular genetic diagnosis difficult in terms of both the time and cost required to screen all 204 coding exons. Here, we report the use of genome-wide homozygosity mapping as a tool to identify homozygous segments at known BBS loci in BBS individuals from inbred and outbred background. In a worldwide cohort of 45 families, we identified, via direct exon sequencing, causative homozygous mutations in 20 families. Eleven of these mutations were novel, thereby increasing the number of known BBS mutations by 5% (11/218). Thus, in the presence of extreme genetic locus heterogeneity, homozygosity mapping provides a valuable approach to the molecular genetic diagnosis of BBS and will facilitate the discovery of novel pathogenic mutations.
PMCID: PMC3017466  PMID: 19797195
Molecular Genetics
5.  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

Results 1-5 (5)