Joint hypermobility is a common, mostly benign, finding in the general population. In a subset of individuals, however, it causes a range of clinical problems, mainly affecting the musculoskeletal system. Joint hypermobility often appears as a familial trait and is shared by several heritable connective tissue disorders, including the hypermobility subtype of the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS-HT) or benign joint hypermobility syndrome (BJHS). These hereditary conditions provide unique models for the study of the genetic basis of joint hypermobility. Nevertheless, these studies are largely hampered by the great variability in clinical presentation and the often vague mode of inheritance in many families. Here, we performed a genome-wide linkage scan in a unique three-generation family with an autosomal dominant EDS-HT phenotype and identified a linkage interval on chromosome 8p22-8p21.1, with a maximum two-point LOD score of 4.73. Subsequent whole exome sequencing revealed the presence of a unique missense variant in the LZTS1 gene, located within the candidate region. Subsequent analysis of 230 EDS-HT/BJHS patients resulted in the identification of three additional rare variants. This is the first reported genome-wide linkage analysis in an EDS-HT family, thereby providing an opportunity to identify a new disease gene for this condition.
Abacavir is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor used as part of combination antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1-infected patients. Because this drug can cause a hypersensitivity reaction that is correlated with the presence of the HLA-B*57:01 allotype, screening for the presence of HLA-B*57:01 is recommended before abacavir initiation. Different genetic assays have been developed for HLA-B*57:01 screening, each with specific sensitivity, turnaround time and assay costs. Here, a new real-time PCR (qPCR) based analysis is described and compared to sequence specific primer PCR with capillary electrophoresis (SSP PCR CE) on 149 patient-derived samples, using sequence specific oligonucleotide hybridization combined with high resolution SSP PCR as gold standard. In addition to these PCR based methods, a complementary approach was developed using flow cytometry with an HLA-B17 specific monoclonal antibody as a pre-screening assay to diminish the number of samples for genetic testing. All three assays had a maximum sensitivity of >99. However, differences in specificity were recorded, i.e. 84.3%, 97.2% and >99% for flow cytometry, qPCR and SSP PCR CE respectively. Our data indicate that the most specific and sensitive of the compared methods is the SSP PCR CE. Flow cytometry pre-screening can substantially decrease the number of genetic tests for HLA-B*57:01 typing in a clinical setting.
The molecular etiology of pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), an autosomal recessive connective tissue disorder, has become increasingly complex as not only mutations in ATP-binding cassette family C member 6 (ABCC6) but also ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 1 (ENPP1) and gamma-glutamyl carboxylase (GGCX) can cause resembling phenotypes. Identification of modifier genes, such as vascular endothelial growth factor A, has further contributed to the molecular heterogeneity of PXE. In such heterogeneous diseases, next-generation sequencing (NGS) allows to perform mutation screening of several genes in a single reaction. We explored whole-exome sequencing (WES) as an efficient diagnostic tool to identify the causal mutations in ABCC6, GGCX, ENPP1, and vitamin K epoxide reductase complex, subunit 1 (VKORC1) in 16 PXE patients. WES identified a causal ABCC6 mutation in 30 out of 32 alleles and one GGCX mutation, whereas no causal mutations in ENPP1 or VKORC1 were detected. Exomes with insufficient reads (⩽20 depth) for the four genes and patients with single mutations were further evaluated by Sanger sequencing (SS), but no additional mutations were found. The potential of WES compared with targeted NGS is the ease to examine target genes and the opportunity to search for novel genes when targeted analysis is negative. Together with low cost, rapid and less laborious workflow, we conclude that WES complemented with SS can provide a tiered approach to molecular diagnostics of PXE.
Heritable Thoracic Aortic Disorders (H-TAD) may present clinically as part of a syndromic entity or as an isolated (nonsyndromic) manifestation. About one dozen genes are now available for clinical molecular testing. Targeted single gene testing is hampered by significant clinical overlap between syndromic H-TAD entities and the absence of discriminating features in isolated cases. Therefore panel testing of multiple genes has now emerged as the preferred approach. So far, no data on mutation detection rate with this technique have been reported.
We performed Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) based screening of the seven currently most prevalent H-TAD-associated genes (FBN1, TGFBR1/2, TGFB2, SMAD3, ACTA2 and COL3A1) on 264 samples from unrelated probands referred for H-TAD and related entities. Patients fulfilling the criteria for Marfan syndrome (MFS) were only included if targeted FBN1 sequencing and MLPA analysis were negative.
A mutation was identified in 34 patients (13%): 12 FBN1, one TGFBR1, two TGFBR2, three TGFB2, nine SMAD3, four ACTA2 and three COL3A1 mutations. We found mutations in FBN1 (N = 3), TGFBR2 (N = 1) and COL3A1 (N = 2) in patients without characteristic clinical features of syndromal H-TAD. Six TAD patients harboring a mutation in SMAD3 and one TAD patient with a TGFB2 mutation fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for MFS.
NGS based H-TAD panel testing efficiently reveals a mutation in 13% of patients. Our observations emphasize the clinical overlap between patients harboring mutations in syndromic and nonsyndromic H-TAD related genes as well as within syndromic H-TAD entities, justifying a widespread application of this technique.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13023-014-0221-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Heritable Thoracic Aortic Disorders – next generation sequencing – Aneurysm; Dissecting/genetics – mutation detection rate
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) and Marfan syndrome (MFS) are common Mendelian disorders. Both conditions are usually diagnosed clinically, as genetic testing is expensive due to the size and number of potentially causative genes and mutations. However, genetic testing may benefit patients, at-risk family members and individuals with borderline phenotypes, as well as improving genetic counseling and allowing critical differential diagnoses. We assessed whether whole exome sequencing (WES) is a sensitive method for mutation detection in OI and MFS. WES was performed on genomic DNA from 13 participants with OI and 10 participants with MFS who had known mutations, with exome capture followed by massive parallel sequencing of multiplexed samples. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and small indels were called using Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) and annotated with ANNOVAR. CREST, exomeCopy and exomeDepth were used for large deletion detection. Results were compared with the previous data. Specificity was calculated by screening WES data from a control population of 487 individuals for mutations in COL1A1, COL1A2 and FBN1. The target capture of five exome capture platforms was compared. All 13 mutations in the OI cohort and 9/10 in the MFS cohort were detected (sensitivity=95.6%) including non-synonymous SNPs, small indels (<10 bp), and a large UTR5/exon 1 deletion. One mutation was not detected by GATK due to strand bias. Specificity was 99.5%. Capture platforms and analysis programs differed considerably in their ability to detect mutations. Consumable costs for WES were low. WES is an efficient, sensitive, specific and cost-effective method for mutation detection in patients with OI and MFS. Careful selection of platform and analysis programs is necessary to maximize success.
The selection and validation of stably expressed reference genes is a critical issue for proper RT-qPCR data normalization. In zebrafish expression studies, many commonly used reference genes are not generally applicable given their variability in expression levels under a variety of experimental conditions. Inappropriate use of these reference genes may lead to false interpretation of expression data and unreliable conclusions. In this study, we evaluated a novel normalization method in zebrafish using expressed repetitive elements (ERE) as reference targets, instead of specific protein coding mRNA targets. We assessed and compared the expression stability of a number of EREs to that of commonly used zebrafish reference genes in a diverse set of experimental conditions including a developmental time series, a set of different organs from adult fish and different treatments of zebrafish embryos including morpholino injections and administration of chemicals. Using geNorm and rank aggregation analysis we demonstrated that EREs have a higher overall expression stability compared to the commonly used reference genes. Moreover, we propose a limited set of ERE reference targets (hatn10, dna15ta1 and loopern4), that show stable expression throughout the wide range of experiments in this study, as strong candidates for inclusion as reference targets for qPCR normalization in future zebrafish expression studies. Our applied strategy to find and evaluate candidate expressed repeat elements for RT-qPCR data normalization has high potential to be used also for other species.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a generalized disorder of connective tissue characterized by fragile bones and easy susceptibility to fracture. Most cases of OI are caused by mutations in type I collagen. We have identified and assembled structural mutations in type I collagen genes (COL1A1 and COL1A2, encoding the proα1(I) and proα2(I) chains, respectively) that result in OI. Quantitative defects causing type I OI were not included. Of these 832 independent mutations, 682 result in substitution for glycine residues in the triple helical domain of the encoded protein and 150 alter splice sites. Distinct genotype–phenotype relationships emerge for each chain. One-third of the mutations that result in glycine substitutions in α1(I) are lethal, especially when the substituting residues are charged or have a branched side chain. Substitutions in the first 200 residues are nonlethal and have variable outcome thereafter, unrelated to folding or helix stability domains. Two exclusively lethal regions (helix positions 691–823 and 910–964) align with major ligand binding regions (MLBRs), suggesting crucial interactions of collagen monomers or fibrils with integrins, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), fibronectin, and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). Mutations in COL1A2 are predominantly nonlethal (80%). Lethal substitutions are located in eight regularly spaced clusters along the chain, supporting a regional model. The lethal regions align with proteoglycan binding sites along the fibril, suggesting a role in fibril–matrix interactions. Recurrences at the same site in α2(I) are generally concordant for outcome, unlike α1(I). Splice site mutations comprise 20% of helical mutations identified in OI patients, and may lead to exon skipping, intron inclusion, or the activation of cryptic splice sites. Splice site mutations in COL1A1 are rarely lethal; they often lead to frameshifts and the mild type I phenotype. In α2(I), lethal exon skipping events are located in the carboxyl half of the chain. Our data on genotype–phenotype relationships indicate that the two collagen chains play very different roles in matrix integrity and that phenotype depends on intracellular and extracellular events.
osteogenesis imperfecta; type I collagen; genotype–phenotype; proteoglycan binding; COL1A1; COL1A2
Resequencing of deafness related genes using GS FLX massive parallel sequencing of PCR amplicons spanning selected genes has previously been reported as a successful strategy to discover causal variants. The amplicon lengths were designed to be smaller than the sequencing read length of GS FLX technology, but are longer than Illumina sequencing technology read lengths. Fragmentation is thus required to sequence these amplicons using high throughput Illumina technology.
We performed Illumina sequencing in 4 patients on 563 multiplexed amplicons covering the exons of 15 genes involved in the hearing process. After exploring several fragmentation strategies, the amplicons were fragmented using Covaris sonication prior to library preparation. CLC genomic workbench was used to analyze the data.
We achieve an excellent coverage with more than 99% of the amplicons bases covered. All variants that were previously validated using Sanger sequencing, were also called in this study. Variant calling revealed less false positive and false negative results compared to the previous study. For each patient, several variants were found that are reported by ClinVar as possible hearing loss variants.
Migration from GS FLX amplicon sequencing to Illumina amplicon sequencing is straightforward and leads to more accurate results.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-509) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Autosomal recessive cutis laxa type I (ARCL type I) is characterized by generalized cutis laxa with pulmonary emphysema and/or vascular complications. Rarely, mutations can be identified in FBLN4 or FBLN5. Recently, LTBP4 mutations have been implicated in a similar phenotype. Studying FBLN4, FBLN5 and LTBP4 in 12 families with ARCL type I, we found bi-allelic FBLN5 mutations in 2 probands, whereas 9 probands harbored biallelic mutations in LTBP4. FBLN5 and LTBP4 mutations cause a very similar phenotype associated with severe pulmonary emphysema, in the absence of vascular tortuosity or aneurysms. Gastro-intestinal and genitourinary tract involvement seems to be more severe in patients with LTBP4 mutations. Functional studies showed that most premature termination mutations in LTBP4 result in severely reduced mRNA and protein levels. This correlated with increased transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling. However, one mutation, c.4127dupC, escaped nonsense-mediated decay. The corresponding mutant protein (p.Arg1377Alafs*27) showed reduced colocalization with fibronectin, leading to an abnormal morphology of microfibrils in fibroblast cultures, while retaining normal TGFβ signaling. We conclude that LTBP4 mutations cause disease through both loss of function and gain of function mechanisms.
LTBP4; FBLN5; Urban-Rifkin-Davis syndrome; fibrillin; cutis laxa; recessive
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) is characterized by skin (papular lesions), ocular (subretinal neovascularisation) and cardiovascular manifestations (peripheral artery disease), due to mineralization and fragmentation of elastic fibres in the extracellular matrix (ECM). Caused by mutations in the ABCC6 gene, the mechanisms underlying this disease remain unknown. The knowledge on the molecular background of soft tissue mineralization largely comes from insights in vascular calcification, with involvement of the osteoinductive Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGFβ) family (TGFβ1-3 and Bone Morphogenetic Proteins [BMP]), together with ectonucleotides (ENPP1), Wnt signalling and a variety of local and systemic calcification inhibitors. In this study, we have investigated the relevance of the signalling pathways described in vascular soft tissue mineralization in the PXE knock-out mouse model and in PXE patients.
The role of the pro-osteogenic pathways BMP2-SMADs-RUNX2, TGFβ-SMAD2/3 and Wnt-MSX2, apoptosis and ER stress was evaluated using immunohistochemistry, mRNA expression profiling and immune-co-staining in dermal tissues and fibroblast cultures of PXE patients and the eyes and whiskers of the PXE knock-out mouse. Apoptosis was further evaluated by TUNEL staining and siRNA mediated gene knockdown. ALPL activity in PXE fibroblasts was studied using ALPL stains.
We demonstrate the upregulation of the BMP2-SMADs-RUNX2 and TGFβ-2-SMAD2/3 pathway, co-localizing with the mineralization sites, and the involvement of MSX2-canonical Wnt signalling. Further, we show that apoptosis is also involved in PXE with activation of Caspases and BCL-2. In contrast to vascular calcification, neither the other BMPs and TGFβs nor endoplasmic reticulum stress pathways seem to be perturbed in PXE.
Our study shows that we cannot simply extrapolate knowledge on cell signalling in vascular soft tissue calcification to a multisystem ectopic mineralisation disease as PXE. Contrary, we demonstrate a specific set of perturbed signalling pathways in PXE patients and the knock-out mouse model. Based on our findings and previously reported data, we propose a preliminary cell model of ECM calcification in PXE.
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum; Ectopic mineralization; Elastic fibres; Osteogenic signalling pathway; BMP2-SMADs-RUNX2; TGFβ signalling; Canonical Wnt pathway; Apoptosis; Endoplasmic reticulum stress
Loeys-Dietz syndrome (LDS) is an autosomal dominant arterial aneurysm disease belonging to the spectrum of transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)-associated vasculopathies. In its most typical form it is characterized by the presence of hypertelorism, bifid uvula/cleft palate and aortic aneurysm and/or arterial tortuosity. LDS is caused by heterozygous loss of function mutations in the genes encoding TGFβ receptor 1 and 2 (TGFBR1 and −2), which lead to a paradoxical increase in TGFβ signaling. To address this apparent paradox and to gain more insight into the pathophysiology of aneurysmal disease, we characterized a new Tgfbr1 mouse model carrying a p.Y378* nonsense mutation. Study of the natural history in this model showed that homozygous mutant mice die during embryonic development due to defective vascularization. Heterozygous mutant mice aged 6 and 12 months were morphologically and (immuno)histochemically indistinguishable from wild-type mice. We show that the mutant allele is degraded by nonsense mediated mRNA decay, expected to result in haploinsufficiency of the mutant allele. Since this haploinsufficiency model does not result in cardiovascular malformations, it does not allow further study of the process of aneurysm formation. In addition to providing a comprehensive method for cardiovascular phenotyping in mice, the results of this study confirm that haploinsuffciency is not the underlying genetic mechanism in human LDS.
Thoracic aortic aneurysm / dissection (TAAD) is a common phenotype that may occur as an isolated manifestation or within the constellation of a defined syndrome. In contrast to syndromic TAAD, the elucidation of the genetic basis of isolated TAAD has only recently started. To date, defects have been found in genes encoding extracellular matrix proteins (fibrillin-1, FBN1; collagen type III alpha 1, COL3A1), proteins involved in transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling (TGFβ receptor 1 and 2, TGFBR1/2; and SMAD3) or proteins that build up the contractile apparatus of aortic smooth muscle cells (myosin heavy chain 11, MYH11; smooth muscle actin alpha 2, ACTA2; and MYLK).
Methods and results
In 110 non-syndromic TAAD patients that previously tested negative for FBN1 or TGFBR1/2 mutations, we identified 7 ACTA2 mutations in a cohort of 43 familial TAAD patients, including 2 premature truncating mutations. Sequencing of MYH11 revealed an in frame splice-site alteration in one out of two probands with TAA(D) associated with PDA but none in the series of 22 probands from the cohort of 110 patients with non-syndromic TAAD. Interestingly, immunohistochemical staining of aortic biopsies of a patient and a family member with MYH11 and patients with ACTA2 missense mutations showed upregulation of the TGFβ signaling pathway.
MYH11 mutations are rare and typically identified in patients with TAAD associated with PDA. ACTA2 mutations were identified in 16% of a cohort presenting familial TAAD. Different molecular defects in TAAD may account for a different pathogenic mechanism of enhanced TGFβ signaling.
thoracic aortic aneurysm; myosin heavy chain 11; smooth muscle α-actin; TGFβ signaling
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous brittle bone disorder. Whereas dominant OI is mostly due to heterozygous mutations in either COL1A1 or COL1A2, encoding type I procollagen, recessive OI is caused by biallelic mutations in genes encoding proteins involved in type I procollagen processing or chaperoning. Hitherto, some OI cases remain molecularly unexplained. We detected a homozygous genomic deletion of CREB3L1 in a family with severe OI. CREB3L1 encodes OASIS, an endoplasmic reticulum-stress transducer that regulates type I procollagen expression during murine bone formation. This is the first report linking CREB3L1 to human recessive OI, thereby expanding the OI gene spectrum.
Osteogenesis imperfecta; Type I collagen; OASIS; CREB3L1; Endoplasmic reticulum stress
Zebrafish (ZF, Danio rerio) has emerged as an important and popular model species to study different human diseases. Key regulators of skeletal development and calcium metabolism are highly conserved between mammals and ZF. The corresponding orthologs share significant sequence similarities and an overlap in expression patterns when compared to mammals, making ZF a potential model for the study of mineralization-related disorders and soft tissue mineralization. To characterize the function of early mineralization-related genes in ZF, these genes can be knocked down by injecting morpholinos into early stage embryos. Validation of the morpholino needs to be performed and the concern of aspecific effects can be addressed by applying one or more independent techniques to knock down the gene of interest. Post-injection assessment of early mineralization defects can be done using general light microscopy, calcein staining, Alizarin red staining, Alizarin red-Alcian blue double staining, and by the use of transgenic lines. Examination of general molecular defects can be done by performing protein and gene expression analysis, and more specific processes can be explored by investigating ectopic mineralization-related mechanisms such as apoptosis and mitochondrial dysfunction. In this paper, we will discuss all details about the aforementioned techniques; shared knowledge will be very useful for the future investigation of ZF models for ectopic mineralization disorders and to understand the underlying pathways involved in soft tissue calcification.
zebrafish; embryos; morpholino; mineralization; osteogenic pathways
Growth factor signaling results in dramatic phenotypic changes in cells, which require commensurate alterations in cellular metabolism. Mutations in SLC2A10/GLUT10, a member of the facilitative glucose transporter family, are associated with altered transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) signaling in patients with arterial tortuosity syndrome (ATS). The objective of this work was to test whether SLC2A10/GLUT10 can serve as a link between TGFβ-related transcriptional regulation and metabolism during development. In zebrafish embryos, knockdown of slc2a10 using antisense morpholino oligonucleotide injection caused a wavy notochord and cardiovascular abnormalities with a reduced heart rate and blood flow, which was coupled with an incomplete and irregular vascular patterning. This was phenocopied by treatment with a small-molecule inhibitor of TGFβ receptor (tgfbr1/alk5). Array hybridization showed that the changes at the transcriptome level caused by the two treatments were highly correlated, revealing that a reduced tgfbr1 signaling is a key feature of ATS in early zebrafish development. Interestingly, a large proportion of the genes, which were specifically dysregulated after glut10 depletion gene and not by tgfbr1 inhibition, play a major role in mitochondrial function. Consistent with these results, slc2a10 morphants showed decreased respiration and reduced TGFβ reporter gene activity. Finally, co-injection of antisense morpholinos targeting slc2a10 and smad7 (a TGFβ inhibitor) resulted in a partial rescue of smad7 morphant phenotypes, suggesting scl2a10/glut10 functions downstream of smads. Taken together, glut10 is essential for cardiovascular development by facilitating both mitochondrial respiration and TGFβ signaling.
Elastin gene mutations have been associated with a variety of phenotypes. Autosomal dominant cutis laxa (ADCL) is a rare disorder that presents with lax skin, typical facial characteristics, inguinal hernias, aortic root dilatation and pulmonary emphysema. In most patients, frameshift mutations are found in the 3’ region of the elastin gene (exons 30-34) which result in a C-terminally extended protein, though exceptions have been reported.
We clinically and molecularly characterized the thus far largest cohort of ADCL patients, consisting of 19 patients from six families and one sporadic patient.
Molecular analysis showed C-terminal frameshift mutations in exon 30, 32, and 34 of the elastin gene and identified a mutational hotspot in exon 32 (c.2262delA). This cohort confirms the previously reported clinical constellation of skin laxity (100%), inguinal hernias (51%), aortic root dilatation (55%) and emphysema (37%).
ADCL is a clinically and molecularly homogeneous disorder, but intra- and interfamilial variability in the severity of organ involvement needs to be taken into account. Regular cardiovascular and pulmonary evaluations are imperative in the clinical follow-up of these patients.
Elastin; ELN; Autosomal dominant cutis laxa; Genotype; Phenotype
Vascular elasticity is crucial for maintaining hemodynamics. Molecular
mechanisms involved in human elastogenesis are incompletely understood. We
describe a syndrome of lethal arteriopathy associated with a novel,
identical mutation in the fibulin 4 gene (FBLN4) in a unique cohort
of infants from South India.
Clinical characteristics, cardiovascular findings, outcomes and molecular
genetics of twenty-two infants from a distinct population subgroup,
presenting with characteristic arterial dilatation and tortuosity during the
period August 2004 to June 2011 were studied.
Patients (11 males, 11 females) presented at median age of 1.5 months,
belonging to unrelated families from identical ethno-geographical
background; eight had a history of consanguinity. Cardiovascular features
included aneurysmal dilatation, elongation, tortuosity and narrowing of the
aorta, pulmonary artery and their branches. The phenotype included a
variable combination of cutis laxa (52%), long philtrum-thin vermillion
(90%), micrognathia (43%), hypertelorism (57%), prominent eyes (43%),
sagging cheeks (43%), long slender digits (48%), and visible arterial
pulsations (38%). Genetic studies revealed an identical
c.608A > C (p. Asp203Ala) mutation in exon 7 of the FBLN4
gene in all 22 patients, homozygous in 21, and compound heterozygous in one
patient with a p. Arg227Cys mutation in the same conserved cbEGF sequence.
Homozygosity was lethal (17/21 died, median age 4 months). Isthmic
hypoplasia (n = 9) correlated with early death
A lethal, genetic disorder characterized by severe deformation of elastic
arteries, was linked to novel mutations in the FBLN4 gene. While describing
a hitherto unreported syndrome in this population subgroup, this study
emphasizes the critical role of fibulin-4 in human elastogenesis.
Arterial tortuosity; Fibulin-4 mutation; Aortic aneurysm; Vascular elasticity; Genetic vasculopathy; Mappila muslims; Founder effect; Cardiovascular imaging; Lethal mutation; Connective tissue disorder; Abnormal elastogenesis; Malabar
Autosomal dominant cutis laxa (ADCL) is characterized by a typical facial appearance and generalized loose skin folds, occasionally associated with aortic root dilatation and emphysema. We sequenced exons 28–34 of the ELN gene in 5 probands with ADCL features and found 5 de novo heterozygous mutations: c.2296_2299dupGCAG (CL-1), c.2333delC (CL-2), c.2137delG (CL-3), c.2262delA (monozygotic twin CL-4 and CL-5) and c.2124del25 (CL-6). Four probands (CL-1, -2, -3, -6) presented with progressive aortic root dilatation. CL-2 and CL-3 also had bicuspid aortic valves. CL-2 presented with severe emphysema. Electron microscopy revealed elastic fiber fragmentation and diminished dermal elastin deposition. RT-PCR studies showed stable mutant mRNA in all patients. Exon 32 skipping explains a milder phenotype in patients with exon 32 mutations. Mutant protein expression in fibroblast cultures impaired deposition of tropoelastin onto microfibril-containing fibers, and enhanced tropoelastin coacervation and globule formation leading to lower amounts of mature, insoluble elastin. Mutation-specific effects also included endoplasmic reticulum stress and increased apoptosis. Increased pSMAD2 staining in ADCL fibroblasts indicated enhanced transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling. We conclude that ADCL is a systemic disease with cardiovascular and pulmonary complications, associated with increased TGFβ signaling and mutation-specific differences in endoplasmic reticulum stress and apoptosis.
ELN; CL; connective tissue; skin; aneurysm; emphysema
Hereditary hearing loss (HL) can originate from mutations in one of many genes involved in the complex process of hearing. Identification of the genetic defects in patients is currently labor intensive and expensive. While screening with Sanger sequencing for GJB2 mutations is common, this is not the case for the other known deafness genes (> 60). Next generation sequencing technology (NGS) has the potential to be much more cost efficient. Published methods mainly use hybridization based target enrichment procedures that are time saving and efficient, but lead to loss in sensitivity. In this study we used a semi-automated PCR amplification and NGS in order to combine high sensitivity, speed and cost efficiency.
In this proof of concept study, we screened 15 autosomal recessive deafness genes in 5 patients with congenital genetic deafness. 646 specific primer pairs for all exons and most of the UTR of the 15 selected genes were designed using primerXL. Using patient specific identifiers, all amplicons were pooled and analyzed using the Roche 454 NGS technology. Three of these patients are members of families in which a region of interest has previously been characterized by linkage studies. In these, we were able to identify two new mutations in CDH23 and OTOF. For another patient, the etiology of deafness was unclear, and no causal mutation was found. In a fifth patient, included as a positive control, we could confirm a known mutation in TMC1.
We have developed an assay that holds great promise as a tool for screening patients with familial autosomal recessive nonsyndromal hearing loss (ARNSHL). For the first time, an efficient, reliable and cost effective genetic test, based on PCR enrichment, for newborns with undiagnosed deafness is available.
Deafness; Next generation sequencing; PCR based enrichment; Genetic diagnostics
Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a heritable connective tissue disorder mainly caused by mutations in the genes COL1A1 and COL1A2 and is associated with hearing loss in approximately half of the cases. The hearing impairment usually starts between the second and fourth decade of life as a conductive hearing loss, frequently evolving to mixed hearing loss thereafter. A minority of patients develop pure sensorineural hearing loss. The interindividual variability in the audiological characteristics of the hearing loss is unexplained.
With the purpose of evaluating inter- and intrafamilial variability, hearing was thorougly examined in 184 OI patients (type I: 154; type III: 4; type IV: 26), aged 3-89 years, with a mutation in either COL1A1 or COL1A2 and originating from 89 different families. Due to the adult onset of hearing loss in OI, correlations between the presence and/or characteristics of the hearing loss and the underlying mutation were investigated in a subsample of 114 OI patients from 64 different families who were older than 40 years of age or had developed hearing loss before the age of 40.
Hearing loss was diagnosed in 48.4% of the total sample of OI ears with increasing prevalence in the older age groups. The predominant type was a mixed hearing loss (27.5%). A minority presented a pure conductive (8.4%) or pure sensorineural (12.5%) loss. In the subsample of 114 OI subjects, no association was found between the nature of the mutation in COL1A1 or COL1A2 genes and the occurrence, type or severity of hearing loss. Relatives originating from the same family differed in audiological features, which may partially be attributed to their dissimilar age.
Our study confirms that hearing loss in OI shows a strong intrafamilial variability. Additional modifications in other genes are assumed to be responsible for the expression of hearing loss in OI.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta; COL1A1; COL1A2; hearing loss; genotype-phenotype correlation
Despite improvements in terms of sequence quality and price per basepair, Sanger sequencing remains restricted to screening of individual disease genes. The development of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) technologies heralded an era in which molecular diagnostics for multigenic disorders becomes reality. Here, we outline different PCR amplification based strategies for the screening of a multitude of genes in a patient cohort. We performed a thorough evaluation in terms of set-up, coverage and sequencing variants on the data of 10 GS-FLX experiments (over 200 patients). Crucially, we determined the actual coverage that is required for reliable diagnostic results using MPS, and provide a tool to calculate the number of patients that can be screened in a single run. Finally, we provide an overview of factors contributing to false negative or false positive mutation calls and suggest ways to maximize sensitivity and specificity, both important in a routine setting. By describing practical strategies for screening of multigenic disorders in a multitude of samples and providing answers to questions about minimum required coverage, the number of patients that can be screened in a single run and the factors that may affect sensitivity and specificity we hope to facilitate the implementation of MPS technology in molecular diagnostics.
Stickler syndrome is an autosomal dominant connective tissue disorder caused by mutations in different collagen genes. The aim of our study was to define more precisely the phenotype and genotype of Stickler syndrome type 1 by investigating a large series of patients with a heterozygous mutation in COL2A1. In 188 probands with the clinical diagnosis of Stickler syndrome, the COL2A1 gene was analyzed by either a mutation scanning technique or bidirectional fluorescent DNA sequencing. The effect of splice site alterations was investigated by analyzing mRNA. Multiplex ligation-dependent amplification analysis was used for the detection of intragenic deletions. We identified 77 different COL2A1 mutations in 100 affected individuals. Analysis of the splice site mutations showed unusual RNA isoforms, most of which contained a premature stop codon. Vitreous anomalies and retinal detachments were found more frequently in patients with a COL2A1 mutation compared with the mutation-negative group (P<0.01). Overall, 20 of 23 sporadic patients with a COL2A1 mutation had either a cleft palate or retinal detachment with vitreous anomalies. The presence of vitreous anomalies, retinal tears or detachments, cleft palate and a positive family history were shown to be good indicators for a COL2A1 defect. In conclusion, we confirm that Stickler syndrome type 1 is predominantly caused by loss-of-function mutations in the COL2A1 gene as >90% of the mutations were predicted to result in nonsense-mediated decay. On the basis of binary regression analysis, we developed a scoring system that may be useful when evaluating patients with Stickler syndrome.
COL2A1; Stickler syndrome; genotype–phenotype correlation; type II collagenopathies; splice site mutation
Fibulin-4 is a member of the fibulin family, a group of extracellular matrix proteins prominently expressed in medial layers of large veins and arteries. Involvement of the FBLN4 gene in cardiovascular pathology was shown in a murine model and in three patients affected with cutis laxa in association with systemic involvement. To elucidate the contribution of FBLN4 in human disease, we investigated two cohorts of patients. Direct sequencing of 17 patients with cutis laxa revealed no FBLN4 mutations. In a second group of 22 patients presenting with arterial tortuosity, stenosis and aneurysms, FBLN4 mutations were identified in three patients, two homozygous missense mutations (p.Glu126Lys and p.Ala397Thr) and compound heterozygosity for missense mutation p.Glu126Val and frameshift mutation c.577delC. Immunoblotting analysis showed a decreased amount of fibulin-4 protein in the fibroblast culture media of two patients, a finding sustained by diminished fibulin-4 in the extracellular matrix of the aortic wall on immunohistochemistry. pSmad2 and CTGF immunostaining of aortic and lung tissue revealed an increase in transforming growth factor (TGF)β signaling. This was confirmed by pSmad2 immunoblotting of fibroblast cultures. In conclusion, patients with recessive FBLN4 mutations are predominantly characterized by aortic aneurysms, arterial tortuosity and stenosis. This confirms the important role of fibulin-4 in vascular elastic fiber assembly. Furthermore, we provide the first evidence for the involvement of altered TGFβ signaling in the pathogenesis of FBLN4 mutations in humans.
TGFβ; fibulin-4; cutis laxa; aortic aneurysm; arterial tortuosity
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), an autosomal recessive disorder with considerable phenotypic variability, mainly affects the eyes, skin and cardiovascular system, characterised by dystrophic mineralization of connective tissues. It is caused by mutations in the ABCC6 (ATP binding cassette family C member 6) gene, which encodes MRP6 (multidrug resistance‐associated protein 6).
To investigate the mutation spectrum of ABCC6 and possible genotype–phenotype correlations.
Mutation data were collected on an international case series of 270 patients with PXE (239 probands, 31 affected family members). A denaturing high‐performance liquid chromatography‐based assay was developed to screen for mutations in all 31 exons, eliminating pseudogene coamplification. In 134 patients with a known phenotype and both mutations identified, genotype–phenotype correlations were assessed.
In total, 316 mutant alleles in ABCC6, including 39 novel mutations, were identified in 239 probands. Mutations were found to cluster in exons 24 and 28, corresponding to the second nucleotide‐binding fold and the last intracellular domain of the protein. Together with the recurrent R1141X and del23–29 mutations, these mutations accounted for 71.5% of the total individual mutations identified. Genotype–phenotype analysis failed to reveal a significant correlation between the types of mutations identified or their predicted effect on the expression of the protein and the age of onset and severity of the disease.
This study emphasises the principal role of ABCC6 mutations in the pathogenesis of PXE, but the reasons for phenotypic variability remain to be explored.
pseudoxanthoma elasticum; ABC transporters; genotype–phenotype correlations; heritable skin diseases