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2.  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
3.  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
4.  Dissection of the MYCN locus in Feingold syndrome and isolated oesophageal atresia 
Feingold syndrome (FS) is a syndromic microcephaly entity for which MYCN is the major disease-causing gene. We studied the expression pattern of MYCN at different stages of human embryonic development and collected a series of 17 FS and 12 isolated oesophageal atresia (IOA) cases. An MYCN gene deletion/mutation was identified in 47% of FS cases exclusively. We hypothesized that mutations or deletions of highly conserved non-coding elements (HCNEs) at the MYCN locus could lead to its misregulation and thereby to FS and/or IOA. We subsequently sequenced five HCNEs at the MYCN locus and designed a high-density tiling path comparative genomic hybridization array of 3.3 Mb at the MYCN locus. We found no mutations or deletions in this region, supporting the hypothesis of genetic heterogeneity in FS.
PMCID: PMC3083612  PMID: 21224895
Feingold syndrome; MYCN; genetic heterogeneity
6.  ISL1 Directly Regulates FGF10 Transcription during Human Cardiac Outflow Formation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30677.
The LIM homeodomain gene Islet-1 (ISL1) encodes a transcription factor that has been associated with the multipotency of human cardiac progenitors, and in mice enables the correct deployment of second heart field (SHF) cells to become the myocardium of atria, right ventricle and outflow tract. Other markers have been identified that characterize subdomains of the SHF, such as the fibroblast growth factor Fgf10 in its anterior region. While functional evidence of its essential contribution has been demonstrated in many vertebrate species, SHF expression of Isl1 has been shown in only some models. We examined the relationship between human ISL1 and FGF10 within the embryonic time window during which the linear heart tube remodels into four chambers. ISL1 transcription demarcated an anatomical region supporting the conserved existence of a SHF in humans, and transcription factors of the GATA family were co-expressed therein. In conjunction, we identified a novel enhancer containing a highly conserved ISL1 consensus binding site within the FGF10 first intron. ChIP and EMSA demonstrated its direct occupation by ISL1. Transcription mediated by ISL1 from this FGF10 intronic element was enhanced by the presence of GATA4 and TBX20 cardiac transcription factors. Finally, transgenic mice confirmed that endogenous factors bound the human FGF10 intronic enhancer to drive reporter expression in the developing cardiac outflow tract. These findings highlight the interest of examining developmental regulatory networks directly in human tissues, when possible, to assess candidate non-coding regions that may be responsible for congenital malformations.
PMCID: PMC3267757  PMID: 22303449
7.  SNPs in the neural cell adhesion molecule 1 gene (NCAM1) may be associated with human neural tube defects 
Human genetics  2005;117(2-3):133-142.
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are common birth defects, occurring in approximately 1/1,000 births; both genetic and environmental factors are implicated. To date, no major genetic risk factors have been identified. Throughout development, cell adhesion molecules are strongly implicated in cell–cell interactions, and may play a role in the formation and closure of the neural tube. To evaluate the role of neural cell adhesion molecule 1 (NCAM1) in risk of human NTDs, we screened for novel single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the gene. Eleven SNPs across NCAM1 were genotyped using TaqMan. We utilized a family-based approach to evaluate evidence for association and/or linkage disequilibrium. We evaluated American Caucasian simplex lumbosacral myelomeningocele families (n=132 families) using the family based association test (FBAT) and the pedigree disequilibrium test (PDT). Association analysis revealed a significant association between risk for NTDs and intronic SNP rs2298526 using both the FBAT test (P=0.0018) and the PDT (P=0.0025). Using the HBAT version of the FBAT to look for haplotype association, all pairwise comparisons with SNP rs2298526 were also significant. A replication study set, consisting of 72 additional families showed no significant association; however, the overall trend for overtransmission of the less common allele of SNP rs2298526 remained significant in the combined sample set. In addition, we analyzed the expression pattern of the NCAM1 protein in human embryos, and while NCAM1 is not expressed within the neural tube at the time of closure, it is expressed in the surrounding and later in differentiated neurons of the CNS. These results suggest variations in NCAM1 may influence risk for human NTDs.
PMCID: PMC3130962  PMID: 15883837
8.  Familial interstitial Xq27.3q28 duplication encompassing the FMR1 gene but not the MECP2 gene causes a new syndromic mental retardation condition 
X-linked mental retardation is a common disorder that accounts for 5–10% of cases of mental retardation in males. Fragile X syndrome is the most common form resulting from a loss of expression of the FMR1 gene. On the other hand, partial duplication of the long arm of the X chromosome is uncommon. It leads to functional disomy of the corresponding genes and has been reported in several cases of mental retardation in males. In this study, we report on the clinical and genetic characterization of a new X-linked mental retardation syndrome characterized by short stature, hypogonadism and facial dysmorphism, and show that this syndrome is caused by a small Xq27.3q28 interstitial duplication encompassing the FMR1 gene. This family broadens the phenotypic spectrum of FMR1 anomalies in an unexpected manner, and we suggest that this condition may represent the fragile X syndrome «contre-type».
PMCID: PMC2987214  PMID: 19844254
X-linked mental retardation; chromosome duplication; FMR1
9.  Array-based comparative genomic hybridization identifies a high frequency of copy number variations in patients with syndromic overgrowth 
Overgrowth syndromes are a heterogeneous group of conditions including endocrine hormone disorders, several genetic syndromes and other disorders with unknown etiopathogenesis. Among genetic causes, chromosomal deletions and duplications such as dup(4)(p16.3), dup(15)(q26qter), del(9)(q22.32q22.33), del(22)(q13) and del(5)(q35) have been identified in patients with overgrowth. Most of them, however, remain undetectable using banding karyotype analysis. In this study, we report on the analysis using a 1-Mb resolution array-based comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) of 93 patients with either a recognizable overgrowth condition (ie, Sotos syndrome or Weaver syndrome) or an unclassified overgrowth syndrome. Five clinically relevant imbalances (three duplications and two deletions) were identified and the pathogenicity of two additional anomalies (one duplication and one deletion) is discussed. Altered segments ranged in size from 0.32 to 18.2 Mb, and no recurrent abnormality was identified. These results show that array-CGH provides a high diagnostic yield in patients with overgrowth syndromes and point to novel chromosomal regions associated with these conditions. Although chromosomal deletions are usually associated with growth retardation, we found that the majority of the imbalances detected in our patients are duplications. Besides their importance for diagnosis and genetic counseling, our results may allow to delineate new contiguous gene syndromes associated with overgrowth, pointing to new genes, the deregulation of which may be responsible for growth defect.
PMCID: PMC2987201  PMID: 19844265
array-CGH; overgrowth disorders; oncogenes; chromosome imbalance; tumor-suppressor genes
10.  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
11.  CC2D2A mutations in Meckel and Joubert syndromes indicate a genotype-phenotype correlation 
Human mutation  2009;30(11):1574-1582.
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.
PMCID: PMC2783384  PMID: 19777577
Meckel-Gruber syndrome; MKS; Joubert syndrome; JBS; CC2D2A; ciliopathy
13.  Human neural crest cells display molecular and phenotypic hallmarks of stem cells 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(21):3411-3425.
The fields of both developmental and stem cell biology explore how functionally distinct cell types arise from a self-renewing founder population. Multipotent, proliferative human neural crest cells (hNCC) develop toward the end of the first month of pregnancy. It is assumed that most differentiate after migrating throughout the organism, although in animal models neural crest stem cells reportedly persist in postnatal tissues. Molecular pathways leading over time from an invasive mesenchyme to differentiated progeny such as the dorsal root ganglion, the maxillary bone or the adrenal medulla are altered in many congenital diseases. To identify additional components of such pathways, we derived and maintained self-renewing hNCC lines from pharyngulas. We show that, unlike their animal counterparts, hNCC are able to self-renew ex vivo under feeder-free conditions. While cross species comparisons showed extensive overlap between human, mouse and avian NCC transcriptomes, some molecular cascades are only active in the human cells, correlating with phenotypic differences. Furthermore, we found that the global hNCC molecular profile is highly similar to that of pluripotent embryonic stem cells when compared with other stem cell populations or hNCC derivatives. The pluripotency markers NANOG, POU5F1 and SOX2 are also expressed by hNCC, and a small subset of transcripts can unambiguously identify hNCC among other cell types. The hNCC molecular profile is thus both unique and globally characteristic of uncommitted stem cells.
PMCID: PMC2566525  PMID: 18689800

Results 1-13 (13)