Dystonias are heterogeneous hyperkinetic movement disorders characterized by involuntary muscle contractions which result in twisting and repetitive movements and abnormal postures. Several causative genes have been identified, but their genetic bases still remain elusive. Primary Torsion Dystonias (PTDs), in which dystonia is the only clinical sign, can be inherited in a monogenic fashion, and many genes and loci have been identified for autosomal dominant (DYT1/TOR1A; DYT6/THAP1; DYT4/TUBB4a; DYT7; DYT13; DYT21; DYT23/CIZ1; DYT24/ANO3; DYT25/GNAL) and recessive (DYT2; DYT17) forms. However most sporadic cases, especially those with late-onset, are likely multifactorial, with genetic and environmental factors interplaying to reach a threshold of disease. At present, genetic counseling of dystonia patients remains a difficult task. Recently non-motor clinical findings in dystonias, new highlights in the pathophysiology of the disease, and the availability of high-throughput genome-wide techniques are proving useful tools to better understand the complexity of PTD genetics. We briefly review the genetic basis of the most common forms of hereditary PTDs, and discuss relevant issues related to molecular diagnosis and genetic counseling.
dystonia; genetic; diagnosis; DYT1; DYT6; non-motor; phenotype; counseling
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by accumulation of α-synuclein and degeneration of neuronal populations in cortical and subcortical regions. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been considered a potential unifying factor in the pathogenesis of the disease. Mutations in genes linked to familial forms of PD, including SNCA encoding α-synuclein and PINK1, have been shown to disrupt mitochondrial activity. We investigated the mechanisms through which mutant Pink1 might disrupt mitochondrial function in neuronal cells with α-synuclein accumulation. For this purpose, a neuronal cell model of PD was infected with virally-delivered Pink1, and was analyzed for cell survival, mitochondrial activity and calcium flux. Mitochondrial morphology was analyzed by confocal and electron microscopy. These studies showed that mutant (W437X) but not wildtype Pink1 exacerbated the alterations in mitochondrial function promoted by mutant (A53T) α-synuclein. This effect was associated with increased intracellular calcium levels. Co-expression of both mutant Pink1 and α-synuclein led to alterations in mitochondrial structure and neurite outgrowth that were partially ameliorated by treatment with Cyclosporine A, and completely restored by treatment with the mitochondrial calcium influx blocker Ruthenium Red, but not with other cellular calcium flux blockers. Our data suggest a role for mitochondrial calcium influx in the mechanisms of mitochondrial and neuronal dysfunction in PD. Moreover, these studies support an important function for Pink1 in regulating mitochondrial activity under stress conditions.
α-synuclein; Pink1; Parkinson’s; mitochondria; calcium
To study prevalence, specific patterns and response to treatment of tremor in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), in comparison with other tremulous disorders prevalence, qualitative and quantitative features of tremor were studied in an incident cohort of 67 dopaminergic treatment naive DLB, 111 Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and 34 Essential Tremor (ET) patients. Tremulous DLB patients (tDLB) were compared with tremulous PD (tPD) and ET patients and followed for 2 years. Double blind placebo-controlled acute drug challenge with l-Dopa and alcohol was performed in all ET, 24 tDLB and 27 tPD. Effects of dopaminergic chronic treatment in all tDLB and tPD patients and primidone in 8 tDLB were also assessed. Tremor occurred in 44.76 % of DLB patients. The tDLB patients presented a complex pattern of mixed tremors, characterized by rest and postural/action tremor, including walking tremor and standing overflow in 50 % tDLB. Standing tremor with overflow was characteristic of tDLB (p < 0.001). Head tremor was more frequent in tDLB than tPD and ET (p = 0.001). The tDLB tremors were reduced by acute and chronic dopaminergic treatments (p < 0.01) but not by alcohol or primidone. Tremor occurs commonly in DLB patients with a complex mixed tremor pattern which shows a significant response to acute and chronic dopaminergic treatments. Recognizing that there is a clinical category of tremulous DLB may help the differential diagnosis of tremors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00415-013-6853-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Dementia with Lewy bodies; Parkinson’s disease; Tremor; EMG
Childhood cerebellar ataxias, and particularly congenital ataxias, are heterogeneous disorders and several remain undefined. We performed a muscle biopsy in patients with congenital ataxia and children with later onset undefined ataxia having neuroimaging evidence of cerebellar atrophy. Significant reduced levels of Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) were found in the skeletal muscle of 9 out of 34 patients that were consecutively screened. A mutation in the ADCK3/Coq8 gene (R347X) was identified in a female patient with ataxia, seizures and markedly reduced COQ10 levels. In a 2.5-years-old male patient with non syndromic congenital ataxia and autophagic vacuoles in the muscle biopsy we identified a homozygous nonsense mutation R111X mutation in SIL1 gene, leading to early diagnosis of Marinesco-Sjogren syndrome. We think that muscle biopsy is a valuable procedure to improve diagnostic assesement in children with congenital ataxia or other undefined forms of later onset childhood ataxia associated to cerebellar atrophy at MRI.
Inherited cerebellar ataxias; Marinesco-Sjogren syndrome; Coenzyme Q10 deficiency
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.
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.
Knowledge about the genetics of primary torsion dystonia (PTD) has been progressing at a very slow pace compared with other movement disorders. For many years, only one causative gene was known, DYT1/TOR1A, yet the recent identification of a second PTD causative gene (DYT6/THAP1), the detection of subclinical alterations caused by mutations in PTD genes in some healthy non-penetrant individuals, and functional studies on TOR1A and THAP1 protein products have significantly improved mutation detection, genotype-phenotype correlates, and our understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying the development of dystonia.
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%).
RPGRIP1L; Joubert Syndrome Related Disorders; molar tooth sign; nephronophthisis
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.
The proline-rich transmembrane protein (PRRT2) gene was recently identified using exome sequencing as the cause of autosomal dominant paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia (PKD) with or without infantile convulsions (IC) (PKD/IC syndrome). Episodic neurologic disorders, such as epilepsy, migraine, and paroxysmal movement disorders, often coexist and are thought to have a shared channel-related etiology. To investigate further the frequency, spectrum, and phenotype of PRRT2 mutations, we analyzed this gene in 3 large series of episodic neurologic disorders with PKD/IC, episodic ataxia (EA), and hemiplegic migraine (HM).
The PRRT2 gene was sequenced in 58 family probands/sporadic individuals with PKD/IC, 182 with EA, 128 with HM, and 475 UK and 96 Asian controls.
PRRT2 genetic mutations were identified in 28 out of 58 individuals with PKD/IC (48%), 1/182 individuals with EA, and 1/128 individuals with HM. A number of loss-of-function and coding missense mutations were identified; the most common mutation found was the p.R217Pfs*8 insertion. Males were more frequently affected than females (ratio 52:32). There was a high proportion of PRRT2 mutations found in families and sporadic cases with PKD associated with migraine or HM (10 out of 28). One family had EA with HM and another large family had typical HM alone.
This work expands the phenotype of mutations in the PRRT2 gene to include the frequent occurrence of migraine and HM with PKD/IC, and the association of mutations with EA and HM and with familial HM alone. We have also extended the PRRT2 mutation type and frequency in PKD and other episodic neurologic disorders.
The Dandy-Walker malformation (DWM) is one of the commonest congenital cerebellar defects, and can be associated with multiple congenital anomalies and chromosomal syndromes. The occurrence of overlapping 3q deletions including the ZIC1 and ZIC4 genes in few patients, along with data from mouse models, have implicated both genes in the pathogenesis of DWM.
Methods and results
Using a SNP-array approach, we recently identified three novel patients carrying heterozygous 3q deletions encompassing ZIC1 and ZIC4. Magnetic resonance imaging showed that only two had a typical DWM, while the third did not present any defect of the DWM spectrum. SNP-array analysis in further eleven children diagnosed with DWM failed to identify deletions of ZIC1-ZIC4. The clinical phenotype of the three 3q deleted patients included multiple congenital anomalies and peculiar facial appearance, related to the localization and extension of each deletion. In particular, phenotypes resulted from the variable combination of three recognizable patterns: DWM (with incomplete penetrance); blepharophimosis, ptosis, and epicanthus inversus syndrome; and Wisconsin syndrome (WS), recently mapped to 3q.
Our data indicate that the 3q deletion is a rare defect associated with DWM, and suggest that the hemizygosity of ZIC1-ZIC4 genes is neither necessary nor sufficient per se to cause this condition. Furthermore, based on a detailed comparison of clinical features and molecular data from 3q deleted patients, we propose clinical diagnostic criteria and refine the critical region for WS.
Dandy-Walker malformation; Wisconsin syndrome; 3q deletion; ZIC1-ZIC4 genes
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.
We studied the independent and joint effects of the genes encoding alpha-synuclein (SNCA) and microtubule associated protein tau (MAPT) in Parkinson's disease (PD) as part of a large meta-analysis of individual data from case-control studies participating in the Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson's Disease (GEO-PD) consortium.
Participants of Caucasian ancestry were genotyped for a total of four SNCA (rs2583988, rs181489, rs356219, rs11931074) and two MAPT (rs1052553, rs242557) SNPs. Individual and joint effects of SNCA and MAPT SNPs were investigated using fixed- and random-effects logistic regression models. Interactions were studied both on a multiplicative and an additive scale, and using a case-control and case-only approach.
Fifteen GEO-PD sites contributed a total of 5302 cases and 4161 controls. All four SNCA SNPs and the MAPT H1-haplotype defining SNP (rs1052553) displayed a highly significant marginal association with PD at the significance level adjusted for multiple comparisons. For SNCA, the strongest associations were observed for SNPs located at the 3′ end of the gene. There was no evidence of statistical interaction between any of the four SNCA SNPs and rs1052553 or rs242557, neither on the multiplicative nor on the additive scale.
This study confirms the association between PD and both SNCA SNPs and the H1 MAPT haplotype. It shows, based on a variety of approaches, that the joint action of variants in these two loci is consistent with independent effects of the genes without additional interacting effects.
Parkinson disease; SNCA; MAPT; genetics; interaction; case-control
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.
Joubert syndrome and related disorders; Oral-facial-digital syndrome type VI; neuroimaging; molar tooth sign; cerebellar malformation
Pontine Tegmental Cap Dysplasia (PTCD) is a recently described, rare disorder characterized by a peculiar cerebellar and brainstem malformation. Nineteen patients have been reported to date, of which only one in the adolescent age, and data on the clinical, cognitive and behavioural outcome of this syndrome are scarce.
Here we describe three adolescent patients with PTCD. All presented bilateral deafness and multiple cranial neuropathies, variably associated with skeletal, cardiac and gastro-intestinal malformations. Feeding and swallowing difficulties, that are often causative of recurrent aspiration pneumonias and death in the first years of life, completely resolved with age in all three patients. Neuropsychological assessment showed borderline to moderate cognitive impairment, with delay in adaptive functioning, visual-spatial and language deficits. Two of three patients also showed mild behavioural problems, although their overall socialization abilities were well preserved. Cochlear implantation in two patients significantly improved their relational and learning abilities. Fibre tractography confirmed the abnormal bundle of transversely oriented fibres forming the typical pontine "tegmental cap" and absence of decussation of the superior cerebellar peduncles, supporting the hypothesis that PTCD results from abnormal axonal guidance and/or migration.
These data indicate that PTCD may have a favourable long-term outcome, with borderline cognitive deficit or even normal cognition and partially preserved speech.
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.
TMEM67; MKS3; Joubert syndrome; Meckel syndrome; congenital hepatic fibrosis; COACH syndrome
The Meckel syndrome (MKS) is a lethal fetal disorder characterized by diffuse renal cystic dysplasia, polydactyly, a brain malformation that is usually occipital encephalocele and/or vermian agenesis, with intrahepatic biliary duct proliferation. Joubert syndrome (JBS) is a viable neurological disorder with a characteristic “molar tooth sign” (MTS) on axial images reflecting cerebellar vermian hypoplasia/dysplasia. Both conditions are classified as ciliopathies with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Allelism of MS and JBS has been reported for TMEM67/MKS3, CEP290/MKS4, and RPGRIP1L/MKS5. Recently, one homozygous splice mutation with a founder effect was reported in the CC2D2A gene in Finnish fetuses with MKS, defining the 6th locus for MKS. Shortly thereafter, CC2D2A mutations were reported in JBS also. The analysis of the CC2D2A gene in our series of MKS fetuses, identified 14 novel truncating mutations in 11 cases. These results confirm the involvement of CC2D2A in MKS and reveal a major contribution of CC2D2A to the disease. We also identified three missense CC2D2A mutations in two JBS cases. Therefore and in accordance with the data reported regarding RPGRIP1L, our results indicate phenotype-genotype correlations, as missense and presumably hypomorphic mutations lead to JBS while all null alleles lead to MKS.
Meckel-Gruber syndrome; MKS; Joubert syndrome; JBS; CC2D2A; ciliopathy
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.
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.
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