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2.  Identification of novel craniofacial regulatory domains located far upstream of SOX9 and disrupted in Pierre Robin sequence 
Human mutation  2014;35(8):1011-1020.
Mutations in the coding sequence of SOX9 cause campomelic dysplasia (CD), a disorder of skeletal development associated with 46,XY disorders of sex development (DSDs). Translocations, deletions and duplications within a ~2 Mb region upstream of SOX9 can recapitulate the CD-DSD phenotype fully or partially, suggesting the existence of an unusually large cis-regulatory control region. Pierre Robin sequence (PRS) is a craniofacial disorder that is frequently an endophenotype of CD and a locus for isolated PRS at ~1.2-1.5 Mb upstream of SOX9 has been previously reported. The craniofacial regulatory potential within this locus, and within the greater genomic domain surrounding SOX9, remains poorly defined. We report two novel deletions upstream of SOX9 in families with PRS, allowing refinement of the regions harbouring candidate craniofacial regulatory elements. In parallel, ChIP-Seq for p300 binding sites in mouse craniofacial tissue led to the identification of several novel craniofacial enhancers at the SOX9 locus, which were validated in transgenic reporter mice and zebrafish. Notably, some of the functionally validated elements fall within the PRS deletions. These studies suggest that multiple non-coding elements contribute to the craniofacial regulation of SOX9 expression, and that their disruption results in PRS.
PMCID: PMC4389788  PMID: 24934569
SOX9; craniofacial; enhancer; Pierre Robin; long-range regulation; campomelic dysplasia
3.  Parental mosaicism is a pitfall in preimplantation genetic diagnosis of dominant disorders 
PCR amplification on single cells is prone to allele drop-out (PCR failure of one allele), a cause of misdiagnosis in preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Owing to this error risk, PGD usually relies on both direct and indirect genetic analyses. When the affected partner is the sporadic case of a dominant disorder, building haplotypes require spermatozoon or polar body testing prior to PGD, but these procedures are cost and time-consuming. A couple requested PGD because the male partner suffered from a dominant Cowden syndrome (CS). He was a sporadic case, but the couple had a first unaffected child and the non-mutated paternal haplotype was tentatively deduced. The couple had a second spontaneous pregnancy and the fetus was found to carry the at-risk haplotype but not the PTEN mutation. The mutation was present in blood from the affected father, but at low level, confirming the somatic mosaicism. Ignoring the possibility of mosaicism in the CS patient would have potentially led to selection of affected embryos. This observation emphasizes the risk of PGD in families at risk to transmit autosomal-dominant disorder when the affected partner is a sporadic case.
PMCID: PMC3992558  PMID: 24022303
preimplantation genetic diagnosis; dominant disorders; mosaicism; error risk
4.  Contiguous mutation syndrome in the era of high-throughput sequencing 
We investigated two siblings, born to consanguineous parents, with neurological features reminiscent of adaptor protein complex 4 (AP4) deficiency, an autosomal recessive neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by neonatal hypotonia that progresses to hypertonia and spasticity, severe intellectual disability speech delay, microcephaly, and growth retardation. Yet, both children also presented with early onset obesity. Whole-exome sequencing identified two homozygous substitutions in two genes 170 kb apart on 7q22.1: a c.1137+1G>T splice mutation in AP4M1 previously described in a familial case of AP4-deficiency syndrome and the AZGP1 c.595A>T missense variant. Haplotyping analysis indicated a founder effect of the AP4M1 mutation, whereas the AZGP1 mutation arose more recently in our family. AZGP1 encodes an adipokine that stimulate lipolysis in adipocytes and regulates body weight in mice. We propose that the siblings' phenotype results from the combined effects of mutations in both AP4M1 and AZGP1 that account for the neurological signs and the morbid obesity of early onset, respectively. Contiguous gene syndromes are the consequence of loss of two or more adjacent genes sensible to gene dosage and the phenotype reflects a combination of endophenotypes. We propose to broaden this concept to phenotypes resulting from independent mutations in two genetically linked genes causing a contiguous mutation syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4444163  PMID: 26029708
AP4 deficiency syndrome; intellectual deficiency; obesity; whole-exome sequencing; zinc-α2-glycoprotein
5.  Molecular screening of ADAMTSL2 gene in 33 patients reveals the genetic heterogeneity of geleophysic dysplasia 
Journal of medical genetics  2011;48(6):417-421.
Geleophysic dysplasia (GD, OMIM 231050) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by short stature, small hands and feet, stiff joints, and thick skin. Patients often present with a progressive cardiac valvular disease which can lead to an early death. In a previous study including six GD families, we have mapped the disease gene on chromosome 9q34.2 and identified mutations in the A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase with Thrombospondin repeats-like 2gene (ADAMTSL2).
Following this study, we have collected the samples of 30 additional GD families, including 33 patients and identified ADAMTSL2 mutations in 14/33 patients, comprising 13 novel mutations. The absence of mutation in 19 patients prompted us to compare the two groups of GD patients, namely group 1, patients with ADAMTSL2 mutations (n¼20, also including the 6 patients from our previous study), and group 2, patients without ADAMTSL2 mutations (n¼19).
The main discriminating features were facial dysmorphism and tip-toe walking, which were almost constantly observed in group 1. No differences were found concerning heart involvement, skin thickness, recurrent respiratory and ear infections, bronchopulmonary insufficiency, laryngo-tracheal stenosis, deafness, and radiographic features.
It is concluded that GD is a genetically heterogeneous condition. Ongoing studies will hopefully lead to the identification of another disease gene.
PMCID: PMC4413937  PMID: 21415077
7.  A homozygous PDE6D mutation in Joubert syndrome impairs targeting of farnesylated INPP5E protein to the primary cilium 
Human mutation  2014;35(1):137-146.
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.
PMCID: PMC3946372  PMID: 24166846
Joubert syndrome; primary cilia; PDE6D; INPP5E; prenylation
8.  Combination of lipid metabolism alterations and their sensitivity to inflammatory cytokines in human lipin-1-deficient myoblasts 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1832(12):2103-2114.
Lipin-1 deficiency is associated with massive rhabdomyolysis episodes in humans, precipitated by febrile illnesses. Despite well-known roles of lipin-1 in lipid biosynthesis and transcriptional regulation, the pathogenic mechanisms leading to rhabdomyolysis remain unknown. Here we show that primary myoblasts from lipin-1-deficient patients exhibit a dramatic decrease in LPIN1 expression and phosphatidic acid phosphatase 1 activity, and a significant accumulation of lipid droplets (LD). The expression levels of LPIN1-target genes [peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors delta and alpha (PPARδ, PPARα), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α), acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase, very long (ACADVL), carnitine palmitoyltransferase IB and 2 (CPT1B and CPT2)] were not affected while lipin-2 protein level, a closely related member of the family, was increased. Microarray analysis of patients’ myotubes identified 19 down-regulated and 51 up-regulated genes, indicating pleiotropic effects of lipin-1 deficiency. Special attention was paid to the up-regulated ACACB (acetyl-CoA carboxylase beta), a key enzyme in the fatty acid synthesis/oxidation balance. We demonstrated that overexpression of ACACB was associated with free fatty acid accumulation in patients’ myoblasts whereas malonyl-carnitine (as a measure of malonyl-CoA) and CPT1 activity were in the normal range in basal conditions accordingly to the normal daily activity reported by the patients. Remarkably ACACB invalidation in patients’ myoblasts decreased LD number and size while LPIN1 invalidation in controls induced LD accumulation. Further, pro-inflammatory treatments tumor necrosis factor alpha + Interleukin-1beta(TNF1α + IL-1β) designed to mimic febrile illness, resulted in increased malonyl-carnitine levels, reduced CPT1 activity and enhanced LD accumulation, a phenomenon reversed by dexamethasone and TNFα or IL-1β inhibitors. Our data suggest that the pathogenic mechanism of rhabdomyolysis in lipin-1-deficient patients combines the predisposing constitutive impairment of lipid metabolism and its exacerbation by pro-inflammatory cytokines.
PMCID: PMC4007099  PMID: 23928362
Rhabdomyolysis; Lipin-1; PAP1; ACACB; Lipid droplet; Inflammation
9.  The Impairment of MAGMAS Function in Human Is Responsible for a Severe Skeletal Dysplasia 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004311.
Impairment of the tightly regulated ossification process leads to a wide range of skeletal dysplasias and deciphering their molecular bases has contributed to the understanding of this complex process. Here, we report a homozygous mutation in the mitochondria-associated granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor-signaling gene (MAGMAS) in a novel and severe spondylodysplastic dysplasia. MAGMAS, also referred to as PAM16 (presequence translocase-associated motor 16), is a mitochondria-associated protein involved in preprotein translocation into the matrix. We show that MAGMAS is specifically expressed in trabecular bone and cartilage at early developmental stages and that the mutation leads to an instability of the protein. We further demonstrate that the mutation described here confers to yeast strains a temperature-sensitive phenotype, impairs the import of mitochondrial matrix pre-proteins and induces cell death. The finding of deleterious MAGMAS mutations in an early lethal skeletal dysplasia supports a key role for this mitochondrial protein in the ossification process.
Author Summary
Skeletal dysplasias (SD) refer to a complex group of rare genetic disorders affecting the growth and development of the skeleton. The identification of the molecular basis of a considerable number of SD has greatly expanded our knowledge of the ossification process. Among SD, spondylodysplastic dysplasia is a generic term describing different conditions characterized by severe vertebral abnormalities and distinct by additional specific features. Several entities within this group are well defined. However, a few cases remain unclassified, of which a novel autosomal recessive spondylometaphyseal dysplasia recently reported by Mégarbané et al. in two Lebanese families. Here, we identified MAGMAS as a candidate gene responsible for this severe SD. MAGMAS, also referred to as PAM16, is a mitochondria-associated protein, involved in pre-proteins import into mitochondria and essential for cell growth and development. We demonstrated that MAGMAS is expressed in bone and cartilage in early developmental stages underlining its specific role in skeletogenesis. We also give strong evidence of the deleterious effect of the identified mutation on the in-vivo activity of Magmas and the viability of yeast strains. Reporting deleterious MAGMAS mutation in a SD supports a key and specific role for this mitochondrial protein in ossification.
PMCID: PMC4006740  PMID: 24786642
10.  Myotonic dystrophy CTG expansion affects synaptic vesicle proteins, neurotransmission and mouse behaviour 
Brain  2013;136(3):957-970.
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 is a complex multisystemic inherited disorder, which displays multiple debilitating neurological manifestations. Despite recent progress in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophy type 1 in skeletal muscle and heart, the pathways affected in the central nervous system are largely unknown. To address this question, we studied the only transgenic mouse line expressing CTG trinucleotide repeats in the central nervous system. These mice recreate molecular features of RNA toxicity, such as RNA foci accumulation and missplicing. They exhibit relevant behavioural and cognitive phenotypes, deficits in short-term synaptic plasticity, as well as changes in neurochemical levels. In the search for disease intermediates affected by disease mutation, a global proteomics approach revealed RAB3A upregulation and synapsin I hyperphosphorylation in the central nervous system of transgenic mice, transfected cells and post-mortem brains of patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1. These protein defects were associated with electrophysiological and behavioural deficits in mice and altered spontaneous neurosecretion in cell culture. Taking advantage of a relevant transgenic mouse of a complex human disease, we found a novel connection between physiological phenotypes and synaptic protein dysregulation, indicative of synaptic dysfunction in myotonic dystrophy type 1 brain pathology.
PMCID: PMC3580270  PMID: 23404338
myotonic dystrophy; transgenic mice; synaptic transmission; RAB3A; synapsin I
11.  NF-κB signalling requirement for brain myelin formation is shown by genotype/MRI phenotype correlations in patients with Xq28 duplications 
One of the key signals regulating peripheral myelin formation by Schwann cell is the activation of the transcription factor NF-κB. Yet, whether NF-κB exerts similar functions in central myelin formation by oligodendrocytes remains largely unknown. We previously reported white matter abnormalities with unusual discordance between T2 and FLAIR sequences in a patient with intellectual disability and defective NF-κB signalling. These observations prompted us to hypothesise that NF-κB signalling may have a role in the axon myelination process of central neurons. We report here on five male patients with Xq28 duplications encompassing MECP2, three of which presented white matter anomalies on brain MRI. Array-CGH and FISH analyses demonstrated that brain abnormalities correlate with additional copies of the IKBKG, a gene encoding a key regulator of NF-κB activation. Quantitative RT-PCR experiments and κB-responsive reporter gene assays provide evidence that IKBKG overexpression causes impaired NF-κB signalling in skin fibroblasts derived from patients with white matter anomalies. These data further support the role of NF-κB signalling in astroglial cells for normal myelin formation of the central nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3548256  PMID: 22805531
NF-κB; myelin formation; central nervous system; genotype/phenotype correlations
12.  Regional siderosis: a new challenge for iron chelation therapy 
The traditional role of iron chelation therapy has been to reduce body iron burden via chelation of excess metal from organs and fluids and its excretion via biliary-fecal and/or urinary routes. In their present use for hemosiderosis, chelation regimens might not be suitable for treating disorders of iron maldistribution, as those are characterized by toxic islands of siderosis appearing in a background of normal or subnormal iron levels (e.g., sideroblastic anemias, neuro- and cardio-siderosis in Friedreich ataxia- and neurosiderosis in Parkinson's disease). We aimed at clearing local siderosis from aberrant labile metal that promotes oxidative damage, without interfering with essential local functions or with hematological iron-associated properties. For this purpose we introduced a conservative mode of iron chelation of dual activity, one based on scavenging labile metal but also redeploying it to cell acceptors or to physiological transferrin. The “scavenging and redeployment” mode of action was designed both for correcting aberrant iron distribution and also for minimizing/preventing systemic loss of chelated metal. We first examine cell models that recapitulate iron maldistribution and associated dysfunctions identified with Friedreich ataxia and Parkinson's disease and use them to explore the ability of the double-acting agent deferiprone, an orally active chelator, to mediate iron scavenging and redeployment and thereby causing functional improvement. We subsequently evaluate the concept in translational models of disease and finally assess its therapeutic potential in prospective double-blind pilot clinical trials. We claim that any chelator applied to diseases of regional siderosis, cardiac, neuronal or endocrine ought to preserve both systemic and regional iron levels. The proposed deferiprone-based therapy has provided a paradigm for treating regional types of siderosis without affecting hematological parameters and systemic functions.
PMCID: PMC3875873  PMID: 24427136
iron; chelators; sideroblastic anemia; neurodegeneration; Parkinson's disease; Friedereich ataxia
13.  Transcriptionally Repressive Chromatin Remodelling and CpG Methylation in the Presence of Expanded CTG-Repeats at the DM1 Locus 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2013;2013:567435.
An expanded CTG-repeat in the 3′ UTR of the DMPK gene is responsible for myotonic dystrophy type I (DM1). Somatic and intergenerational instability cause the disease to become more severe during life and in subsequent generations. Evidence is accumulating that trinucleotide repeat instability and disease progression involve aberrant chromatin dynamics. We explored the chromatin environment in relation to expanded CTG-repeat tracts in hearts from transgenic mice carrying the DM1 locus with different repeat lengths. Using bisulfite sequencing we detected abundant CpG methylation in the regions flanking the expanded CTG-repeat. CpG methylation was postulated to affect CTCF binding but we found that CTCF binding is not affected by CTG-repeat length in our transgenic mice. We detected significantly decreased DMPK sense and SIX5 transcript expression levels in mice with expanded CTG-repeats. Expression of the DM1 antisense transcript was barely affected by CTG-repeat expansion. In line with altered gene expression, ChIP studies revealed a locally less active chromatin conformation around the expanded CTG-repeat, namely, decreased enrichment of active histone mark H3K9/14Ac and increased H3K9Me3 enrichment (repressive chromatin mark). We also observed binding of PCNA around the repeats, a candidate that could launch chromatin remodelling cascades at expanded repeats, ultimately affecting gene transcription and repeat instability.
PMCID: PMC3884603  PMID: 24455202
14.  eIF2γ Mutation that Disrupts eIF2 Complex Integrity Links Intellectual Disability to Impaired Translation Initiation 
Molecular cell  2012;48(4):641-646.
Together with GTP and the initiator methionyl-tRNA, the translation initiation factor eIF2 forms a ternary complex that binds the 40S ribosome and then scans an mRNA to select the AUG start codon for protein synthesis. Here, we show that a human X-chromosomal neurological disorder characterized by intellectual disability and microcephaly is caused by a missense mutation in eIF2γ (encoded by EIF2S3), the core subunit of the heterotrimeric eIF2 complex. Biochemical studies of human cells overexpressing the eIF2γ mutant and of yeast eIF2γ with the analogous mutation revealed a defect in binding the eIF2β subunit to eIF2γ. Consistent with this loss of eIF2 integrity, the mutation in yeast eIF2γ impaired translation start codon selection and eIF2 function in vivo in a manner that was suppressed by overexpression of eIF2β. These findings directly link intellectual disability to impaired translation initiation, and provide a mechanistic basis for the human disease due to partial loss of eIF2 function.
PMCID: PMC3513554  PMID: 23063529
15.  De novo gain of function KCNT1 channel mutations cause malignant migrating partial seizures of infancy 
Nature genetics  2012;44(11):1255-1259.
Malignant migrating partial seizures of infancy (MMPSI) is a rare epileptic encephalopathy of infancy that combines pharmacoresistant seizures with developmental delay1. We performed exome sequencing in 3 probands with MMPSI and identified de novo gain-of-function mutations in the C-terminal domain of the KCNT1 potassium channel. We sequenced KCNT1 in 9 additional patients with MMPSI and identified mutations in 4 of them, in total identifying mutations in 6 out of 12 unrelated patients. Functional studies showed that the mutations led to constitutive activation of the channel, mimicking the effects of phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain by protein kinase C. In addition to regulating ion flux, KCNT1 has a non conducting function as its C terminus interacts with cytoplasmic proteins involved in developmental signaling pathways. These results provide a target for future diagnostic approaches and research in this devastating condition.
PMCID: PMC3687547  PMID: 23086397
16.  Male and female differential reproductive rate could explain parental transmission asymmetry of mutation origin in Hirschsprung disease 
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR, aganglionic megacolon) is a complex and heterogeneous disease with an incidence of 1 in 5000 live births. Despite the multifactorial determination of HSCR in the vast majority of cases, there is a monogenic subgroup for which private rare RET coding sequence mutations with high penetrance are found (45% of HSCR familial cases). An asymmetrical parental origin is observed for RET coding sequence mutations with a higher maternal inheritance. A parent-of-origin effect is usually assumed. Here we show that a differential reproductive rate for males and females also leads to an asymmetrical parental origin, which was never considered as a possible explanation till now. In the case of HSCR, we show a positive association between penetrance of the mutation and parental transmission asymmetry: no parental transmission asymmetry is observed in sporadic RET CDS mutation carrier cases for which penetrance of the mutation is low, whereas a parental transmission asymmetry is observed in affected sib-pairs for which penetrance of the mutation is higher. This allows us to conclude that the explanation for this parental asymmetry is that more severe mutations have resulted in a differential reproductive rate between male and female carriers.
PMCID: PMC3421120  PMID: 22395866
Hirschsprung disease; parent-of-origin effect; parental transmission asymmetry; reproductive rate
17.  Mutations in mitochondrial ribosomal protein MRPL12 leads to growth retardation, neurological deterioration and mitochondrial translation deficiency☆ 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2013;1832(8):1304-1312.
Multiple respiratory chain deficiencies represent a common cause of mitochondrial diseases and are associated with a wide range of clinical symptoms. We report a subject, born to consanguineous parents, with growth retardation and neurological deterioration. Multiple respiratory chain deficiency was found in muscle and fibroblasts of the subject as well as abnormal assembly of complexes I and IV. A microsatellite genotyping of the family members detected only one region of homozygosity on chromosome 17q24.2–q25.3 in which we focused our attention to genes involved in mitochondrial translation. We sequenced MRPL12, encoding the mitochondrial ribosomal protein L12 and identified a c.542C>T transition in exon 5 changing a highly conserved alanine into a valine (p.Ala181Val). This mutation resulted in a decreased steady-state level of MRPL12 protein, with altered integration into the large ribosomal subunit. Moreover, an overall mitochondrial translation defect was observed in the subject's fibroblasts with a significant reduction of synthesis of COXI, COXII and COXIII subunits. Modeling of MRPL12 shows Ala181 positioned in a helix potentially involved in an interface of interaction suggesting that the p.Ala181Val change might be predicted to alter interactions with the elongation factors. These results contrast with the eubacterial orthologues of human MRPL12, where L7/L12 proteins do not appear to have a selective effect on translation. Therefore, analysis of the mutated version found in the subject presented here suggests that the mammalian protein does not function in an entirely analogous manner to the eubacterial L7/L12 equivalent.
•MRPL12 function is not entirely analogous to the eubacterial L7/L12 equivalent.•Mutations in MRPL12 cause translation defects.•Mutations in apparently universal translation factors can affect different OXPHOS complexes.
PMCID: PMC3787750  PMID: 23603806
MRP, mitoribosomal protein; OXPHOS, oxidative phosphorylation; COX, cytochrome c oxidase; POLRMT, mitochondrial RNA polymerase; Mitochondria; Mitoribosome; Protein synthesis; Disease; OXPHOS defect
18.  Synaptic protein dysregulation in myotonic dystrophy type 1 
Rare Diseases  2013;1:e25553.
The toxicity of expanded transcripts in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is mainly mediated by the disruption of alternative splicing. However, the detailed disease mechanisms in the central nervous system (CNS) have not been fully elucidated. In our recent study, we demonstrated that the accumulation of mutant transcripts in the CNS of a mouse model of DM1 disturbs splicing in a region-specific manner. We now discuss that the spatial- and temporal-regulated expression of splicing factors may contribute to the region-specific spliceopathy in DM1 brains. In the search for disease mechanisms operating in the CNS, we found that the expression of expanded CUG-containing RNA affects the expression and phosphorylation of synaptic vesicle proteins, possibly contributing to DM1 neurological phenotypes. Although mediated by splicing regulators with a described role in DM1, the misregulation of synaptic proteins was not associated with missplicing of their coding transcripts, supporting the view that DM1 mechanisms in the CNS have also far-reaching implications beyond the disruption of a splicing program.
PMCID: PMC3927487  PMID: 25003003
myotonic dystrophy type 1; trinucleotide repeat expansion; RNA toxicity; RNA splicing; central nervous system; transgenic mice; synaptic function; synaptic protein; RAB3A; synapsin I
19.  KIF7 mutations cause fetal hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes 
Nature genetics  2011;43(6):601-606.
KIF7, the human ortholog of Drosophila Costal2, is a key component of the Hedgehog signaling pathway. Here we report mutations in KIF7 in individuals with hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes, two multiple malformation disorders with overlapping features that include polydactyly, brain abnormalities and cleft palate. Consistent with a role of KIF7 in Hedgehog signaling, we show deregulation of most GLI transcription factor targets and impaired GLI3 processing in tissues from individuals with KIF7 mutations. KIF7 is also a likely contributor of alleles across the ciliopathy spectrum, as sequencing of a diverse cohort identified several missense mutations detrimental to protein function. In addition, in vivo genetic interaction studies indicated that knockdown of KIF7 could exacerbate the phenotype induced by knockdown of other ciliopathy transcripts. Our data show the role of KIF7 in human primary cilia, especially in the Hedgehog pathway through the regulation of GLI targets, and expand the clinical spectrum of ciliopathies.
PMCID: PMC3674836  PMID: 21552264
20.  Chromosome 21 Scan in Down Syndrome Reveals DSCAM as a Predisposing Locus in Hirschsprung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62519.
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) genetics is a paradigm for the study and understanding of multigenic disorders. Association between Down syndrome and HSCR suggests that genetic factors that predispose to HSCR map to chromosome 21. To identify these additional factors, we performed a dose-dependent association study on chromosome 21 in Down syndrome patients with HSCR. Assessing 10,895 SNPs in 26 Caucasian cases and their parents led to identify two associated SNPs (rs2837770 and rs8134673) at chromosome-wide level. Those SNPs, which were located in intron 3 of the DSCAM gene within a 19 kb-linkage disequilibrium block region were in complete association and are consistent with DSCAM expression during enteric nervous system development. We replicated the association of HSCR with this region in an independent sample of 220 non-syndromic HSCR Caucasian patients and their parents. At last, we provide the functional rationale to the involvement of DSCAM by network analysis and assessment of SOX10 regulation. Our results reveal the involvement of DSCAM as a HSCR susceptibility locus, both in Down syndrome and HSCR isolated cases. This study further ascertains the chromosome-scan dose-dependent methodology used herein as a mean to map the genetic bases of other sub-phenotypes both in Down syndrome and other aneuploidies.
PMCID: PMC3646051  PMID: 23671607
21.  Intellectual disability associated with retinal dystrophy in the Xp11.3 deletion syndrome: ZNF674 on trial. Guilty or innocent? 
X-linked retinal dystrophies (XLRD) are listed among the most severe RD owing to their early onset, leading to significant visual loss before the age of 30. One-third of XLRD are accounted for by RP2 mutations at the Xp11.23 locus. Deletions of ca. 1.2 Mb in the Xp11.3-p11.23 region have been previously reported in two independent families segregating XLRD with intellectual disability (ID). Although the RD was ascribed to the deletion of RP2, the ID was suggested to be accounted for by the loss of ZNF674, which mutations were independently reported to account for isolated XLID. Here, we report deletions in the Xp11.3-p11.23 region responsible for the loss of ZNF674 in two unrelated families segregating XLRD, but no ID, identified by chromosomal microarray analysis. These findings question the responsibility of ZNF674 deletions in ID associated with X-linked retinal dystrophy.
PMCID: PMC3283176  PMID: 22126752
retinal dystrophy; X-linked inheritance; chromosomal deletion encompassing RP2; no intellectual disability
22.  Genetic Variations Creating MicroRNA Target Sites in the FXN 3′-UTR Affect Frataxin Expression in Friedreich Ataxia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54791.
Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA) is a severe neurodegenerative disease caused by GAA repeat expansion within the first intron of the frataxin gene. It has been suggested that the repeat is responsible for the disease severity due to impaired transcription thereby reducing expression of the protein. However, genotype-phenotype correlation is imperfect, and the influence of other gene regions of the frataxin gene is unknown. We hypothesized that FRDA patients may harbor specific regulatory variants in the 3′-UTR. We sequenced the 3′-UTR region of the frataxin gene in a cohort of 57 FRDA individuals and 58 controls. Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) out of 19 were polymorphic in our case-control sample. These SNPs defined several haplotypes with one reaching 89% of homozygosity in patients versus 24% in controls. In another cohort of 47 FRDA Reunionese patients, 94% patients were found to be homozygous for this haplotype. We found that this FRDA 3′-UTR conferred a 1.2-fold decrease in the expression of a reporter gene versus the alternative haplotype configuration. We established that differential targeting by miRNA could account for this functional variability. We specifically demonstrated the involvement of miR-124 (i.e hsa-mir-124-3p) in the down-regulation of FRDA-3′-UTR. Our results suggest for the first time that post-transcriptional regulation of frataxin occurs through the 3′-UTR and involves miRNA targeting. We propose that the involvement of miRNAs in a FRDA-specific regulation of frataxin may provide a rationale to increase residual levels of frataxin through miRNA-inhibitory molecules.
PMCID: PMC3559822  PMID: 23382970
23.  Union Makes Strength: A Worldwide Collaborative Genetic and Clinical Study to Provide a Comprehensive Survey of RD3 Mutations and Delineate the Associated Phenotype 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51622.
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is the earliest and most severe retinal degeneration (RD), and the most common cause of incurable blindness diagnosed in children. It is occasionally the presenting symptom of multisystemic ciliopathies which diagnosis will require a specific care of patients. Nineteen LCA genes are currently identified and three of them account for both non-syndromic and syndromic forms of the disease. RD3 (LCA12) was implicated as a LCA gene based on the identification of homozygous truncating mutations in two LCA families despite the screening of large cohorts of patients. Here we provide a comprehensive survey of RD3 mutations and of their clinical expression through the screening of a cohort of 852 patients originating worldwide affected with LCA or early-onset and severe RD. We identified three RD3 mutations in seven unrelated consanguineous LCA families - i.e., a 2 bp deletion and two nonsense mutations – predicted to cause complete loss of function. Five families originating from the Southern Shores of the Mediterranean segregated a similar mutation (c.112C>T, p.R38*) suggesting that this change may have resulted from an ancient founder effect. Considering the low frequency of RD3 carriers, the recurrence risk for LCA in non-consanguineous unions is negligible for both heterozygote and homozygote RD3 individuals. The LCA12 phenotype in our patients is highly similar to those of patients with mutant photoreceptor-specific guanylate cyclase (GUCY2D/LCA1). This observation is consistent with the report of the role of RD3 in trafficking of GUCYs and gives further support to a common mechanism of photoreceptor degeneration in LCA12 and LCA1, i.e., inability to increase cytoplasmic cGMP concentration in outer segments and thus to recover the dark-state. Similar to LCA1, LCA12 patients have no extraocular symptoms despite complete inactivation of both RD3 alleles, supporting the view that extraocular investigations in LCA infants with RD3 mutations should be avoided.
PMCID: PMC3538699  PMID: 23308101
24.  Genetic association study of mitochondrial polymorphisms in neovascular age-related macular degeneration 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:1132-1140.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a multifactorial disease involving genetic and environmental factors. Most of the genetic factors identified so far involve the nuclear genome. Recently, two studies in North America and Australia reported an association between advanced AMD and the mitochondrial T2 haplogroup. Our purpose was to assess this association in a large French population.
This case control study included 1,224 patients with neovascular AMD and 559 controls with normal fundus. Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms at and around nucleotides 4917, 11,812, and 14,233 were determined using PCR amplification and direct sequencing of mitochondrial DNA.
No association was found between the mitochondrial T2 haplogroup and neovascular AMD in the French population: 94/1,152 patients with neovascular AMD had the T2 haplogroup (8.2%) versus 34/482 controls (7.1%; odds ratio=0.9 [0.5–1.5], p=0.66).
An association between AMD and the T2 haplogroup, previously described in North American and Australian populations, was not confirmed in a large French population.
PMCID: PMC3669531  PMID: 23734082
25.  Molecular, Physiological, and Motor Performance Defects in DMSXL Mice Carrying >1,000 CTG Repeats from the Human DM1 Locus 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003043.
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is caused by an unstable CTG repeat expansion in the 3′UTR of the DM protein kinase (DMPK) gene. DMPK transcripts carrying CUG expansions form nuclear foci and affect splicing regulation of various RNA transcripts. Furthermore, bidirectional transcription over the DMPK gene and non-conventional RNA translation of repeated transcripts have been described in DM1. It is clear now that this disease may involve multiple pathogenic pathways including changes in gene expression, RNA stability and splicing regulation, protein translation, and micro–RNA metabolism. We previously generated transgenic mice with 45-kb of the DM1 locus and >300 CTG repeats (DM300 mice). After successive breeding and a high level of CTG repeat instability, we obtained transgenic mice carrying >1,000 CTG (DMSXL mice). Here we described for the first time the expression pattern of the DMPK sense transcripts in DMSXL and human tissues. Interestingly, we also demonstrate that DMPK antisense transcripts are expressed in various DMSXL and human tissues, and that both sense and antisense transcripts accumulate in independent nuclear foci that do not co-localize together. Molecular features of DM1-associated RNA toxicity in DMSXL mice (such as foci accumulation and mild missplicing), were associated with high mortality, growth retardation, and muscle defects (abnormal histopathology, reduced muscle strength, and lower motor performances). We have found that lower levels of IGFBP-3 may contribute to DMSXL growth retardation, while increased proteasome activity may affect muscle function. These data demonstrate that the human DM1 locus carrying very large expansions induced a variety of molecular and physiological defects in transgenic mice, reflecting DM1 to a certain extent. As a result, DMSXL mice provide an animal tool to decipher various aspects of the disease mechanisms. In addition, these mice can be used to test the preclinical impact of systemic therapeutic strategies on molecular and physiological phenotypes.
Author Summary
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is caused by the abnormal expansion of a CTG repeat located in the DM protein kinase (DMPK) gene. DMPK transcripts carrying CUG expansions form toxic nuclear foci that affect other RNAs. DM1 involve multiple pathogenic pathways including changes in gene expression, RNA stability and splicing regulation, protein translation, and micro–RNA metabolism. We previously generated transgenic mice carrying the human DM1 locus and very large expansions >1,000 CTG (DMSXL mice). Here we described for the first time, the expression pattern of the DMPK sense transcripts in DMSXL and human tissues. We also demonstrate that DMPK antisense transcripts are expressed in various tissues from DMSXL mice and human. Both sense and antisense transcripts form nuclear foci. DMSXL mice showed molecular DM1 features such as foci and mild splicing defects as well as muscles defects, reduced muscle strength, and lower motor performances. These mice recapitulate some molecular features of DM1 leading to physiological abnormalities. DMSXL are not only a tool to decipher various mechanisms involved in DM1 but also to test the preclinical impact of systemic therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3510028  PMID: 23209425

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