Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type VIII (EDS-VIII) is a very rare autosomal dominant disease characterized by early-onset periodontitis associated with features of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. We report a 32-year-old man whose chronic leg ulcer led to the diagnosis of EDS-VIII. He had severe periodontitis with complete loss of permanent teeth and skin fragility with thin skin, atrophic scars, and brownish atrophic pretibial plaques. Leg ulcer is not a prominent feature of EDS-VIII. We suggest adding EDS-VIII to the list of rare diseases accounting for chronic leg ulcers, if this case report prompts others to report leg ulcers associated with EDS-VIII.
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.
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
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) is a heritable disease characterized by calcified elastic fibers in cutaneous, ocular and vascular tissues. PXE is caused by mutations in ABCC6, which encodes a protein of the ATP-driven organic anion transporter family. The inability of this transporter to secrete its substrate into the circulation is the likely cause of PXE. Vitamin K plays a role in the regulation of mineralization processes as a co-factor in the carboxylation of calcification inhibitors such as Matrix Gla Protein (MGP). Vitamin K precursor or a conjugated form has been proposed as potential substrate(s) for ABCC6. We investigated whether an enriched diet of vitamin K1 or vitamin K2 (MK4) could stop or slow the disease progression in Abcc6-/- mice. Abcc6-/- mice were placed on a diet of either vitamin K1 or MK4 at 5 or 100 mg/kg at prenatal, 3 weeks or 3 months of age. Disease progression was quantified by measuring the calcium content of one side of the mouse muzzle skin and histological staining for calcium of the opposing side. Raising the vitamin K1 or MK4 content of the diet increased the concentration of circulating MK4 in the serum. However, this increase did not significantly affect the MGP carboxylation status or reduce its abnormal abundance, the total calcium content or the pathologic calcification in the whiskers of the 3 treatment groups compared to controls. Our findings showed that raising the dietary intake of vitamin K1 or MK4 was not beneficial in the treatment of PXE and suggested that the availability of vitamin K may not be a limiting factor in this pathology.
pseudoxanthoma elasticum; vitamin K; mineralization; Abcc6; mouse
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disorder of connective tissue characterized by bone fragility and alteration in synthesis and posttranslational modification of type I collagen. Autosomal dominant OI is caused by mutations in the genes (COL1A1 or COL1A2) encoding the chains of type I collagen. Bruck syndrome is a recessive disorder featuring congenital contractures in addition to bone fragility; Bruck syndrome type 2 is caused by mutations in PLOD2 encoding collagen lysyl hydroxylase, whereas Bruck syndrome type 1 has been mapped to chromosome 17, with evidence suggesting region 17p12, but the gene has remained elusive so far. Recently, the molecular spectrum of OI has been expanded with the description of the basis of a unique posttranslational modification of type I procollagen, that is, 3-prolyl-hydroxylation. Three proteins, cartilage-associated protein (CRTAP), prolyl-3-hydroxylase-1 (P3H1, encoded by the LEPRE1 gene), and the prolyl cis-trans isomerase cyclophilin-B (PPIB), form a complex that is required for fibrillar collagen 3-prolyl-hydroxylation, and mutations in each gene have been shown to cause recessive forms of OI. Since then, an additional putative collagen chaperone complex, composed of FKBP10 (also known as FKBP65) and SERPINH1 (also known as HSP47), also has been shown to be mutated in recessive OI. Here we describe five families with OI-like bone fragility in association with congenital contractures who all had FKBP10 mutations. Therefore, we conclude that FKBP10 mutations are a cause of recessive osteogenesis imperfecta and Bruck syndrome, possibly Bruck syndrome Type 1 since the location on chromosome 17 has not been definitely localized. © 2011 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
OSTEOGENESIS IMPERFECTA; BRUCK SYNDROME; FKBP10 (ALSO KNOWN AS FKBP65); BRITTLE BONE DISEASE; COLLAGEN
Among ectopic mineralization disorders, pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE)—a rare genodermatosis associated with ocular and cardiovascular manifestations—is considered a paradigm disease. The symptoms of PXE are the result of mineralization and fragmentation of elastic fibers, the exact pathophysiology of which is incompletely understood. Though molecular analysis of the causal gene, ABCC6, has a high mutation uptake, a skin biopsy has until now been considered the golden standard to confirm the clinical diagnosis. Although the histological hallmarks of PXE are rather specific, several other diseases—particularly those affecting the skin—can present with clinical and/or histological characteristics identical to or highly resemblant of PXE. In this paper, we will summarize the histopathological features of PXE together with those of disorders that are most frequently considered in the differential diagnosis of PXE.
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
While a growing body of evidence implicates regulatory miRNA modules in various aspects of human disease and development, insights into specific miRNA function remain limited. Here, we present an innovative approach to elucidate tissue-specific miRNA functions that goes beyond miRNA target prediction and expression correlation. This approach is based on a multi-level integration of corresponding miRNA and mRNA gene expression levels, miRNA target prediction, transcription factor target prediction and mechanistic models of gene network regulation. Predicted miRNA functions were either validated experimentally or compared to published data. The predicted miRNA functions are accessible in the miRNA bodymap, an interactive online compendium and mining tool of high-dimensional newly generated and published miRNA expression profiles. The miRNA bodymap enables prioritization of candidate miRNAs based on their expression pattern or functional annotation across tissue or disease subgroup. The miRNA bodymap project provides users with a single one-stop data-mining solution and has great potential to become a community resource.
Though the genetic background of ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke is often polygenetic or multifactorial, it can in some cases result from a monogenic disease, particularly in young adults. Besides arteriopathies and metabolic disorders, several connective tissue diseases can present with stroke. While some of these diseases have been recognized for decades as causes of stroke, such as the vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, others only recently came to attention as being involved in stroke pathogenesis, such as those related to Type IV collagen. This paper discusses each of these connective tissue disorders and their relation with stroke briefly, emphasizing the main clinical features which can lead to their diagnosis.
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
Chromosomal rearrangements involving the EVI1 proto-oncogene are a recurrent finding in myeloid leukemias and are indicative of a poor prognosis. Rearrangements of the EVI1 locus are often associated with monosomy 7 or cytogenetic detectable deletions of part of 7q. As EVI1 overexpression alone is not sufficient to induce leukemia, loss of a 7q tumour suppressor gene might be a required cooperating event. To test this hypothesis, we performed high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization analysis of twelve EVI1 overexpressing patients and three EVI1 deregulated cell lines to search for 7q submicroscopic deletions. This analysis lead to the delineation of two critical regions, one of 0.39 Mb on 7q35 containing the CNTNAP2 gene and one of 1.33 Mb on chromosome bands 7q35–q36 comprising nine genes in EVI1 deregulated cell lines. These findings open the way to further studies aimed at identifying the culprit EVI1 implicated tumour suppressor genes on 7q.
Recurrent loss of part of the long arm of chromosome 11 is a well established hallmark of a subtype of aggressive neuroblastomas. Despite intensive mapping efforts to localize the culprit 11q tumour suppressor gene, this search has been unsuccessful thus far as no sufficiently small critical region could be delineated for selection of candidate genes.
To refine the critical region of 11q loss, the chromosome 11 status of 100 primary neuroblastoma tumours and 29 cell lines was analyzed using a BAC array containing a chromosome 11 tiling path. For the genes mapping within our refined region of loss, meta-analysis on published neuroblastoma mRNA gene expression datasets was performed for candidate gene selection. The DNA methylation status of the resulting candidate gene was determined using re-expression experiments by treatment of neuroblastoma cells with the demethylating agent 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and bisulphite sequencing.
Two small critical regions of loss within 11q23 at chromosomal band 11q23.1-q23.2 (1.79 Mb) and 11q23.2-q23.3 (3.72 Mb) were identified. In a first step towards further selection of candidate neuroblastoma tumour suppressor genes, we performed a meta-analysis on published expression profiles of 692 neuroblastoma tumours. Integration of the resulting candidate gene list with expression data of neuroblastoma progenitor cells pinpointed CADM1 as a compelling candidate gene. Meta-analysis indicated that CADM1 expression has prognostic significance and differential expression for the gene was noted in unfavourable neuroblastoma versus normal neuroblasts. Methylation analysis provided no evidence for a two-hit mechanism in 11q deleted cell lines.
Our study puts CADM1 forward as a strong candidate neuroblastoma suppressor gene. Further functional studies are warranted to elucidate the role of CADM1 in neuroblastoma development and to investigate the possibility of CADM1 haploinsufficiency in neuroblastoma.
qBase, a free program for the management and automated analysis of qPCR data, is described
Although quantitative PCR (qPCR) is becoming the method of choice for expression profiling of selected genes, accurate and straightforward processing of the raw measurements remains a major hurdle. Here we outline advanced and universally applicable models for relative quantification and inter-run calibration with proper error propagation along the entire calculation track. These models and algorithms are implemented in qBase, a free program for the management and automated analysis of qPCR data.
A correction to Human fetal neuroblast and neuroblastoma transcriptome analysis confirms neuroblast origin and highlights neuroblastoma candidate genes by K De Preter, J Vandesompele, P Heimann, N Yigit, S Beckman, A Schramm, A Eggert, RL Stallings, Y Benoit, M Renard, A De Paepe, G Laureys, S Påhlman and F Speleman. Genome Biology 2006 7:R84
DNA methylation plays an important role in development and tumorigenesis by epigenetic modification and silencing of critical genes. The development of PCR-based methylation assays on bisulphite modified DNA heralded a breakthrough in speed and sensitivity for gene methylation analysis. Despite this technological advancement, these approaches require a cumbersome gene by gene primer design and experimental validation. Bisulphite DNA modification results in sequence alterations (all unmethylated cytosines are converted into uracils) and a general sequence complexity reduction as cytosines become underrepresented. Consequently, standard BLAST sequence homology searches cannot be applied to search for specific methylation primers.
To address this problem we developed methBLAST, a sequence similarity search program, based on the original BLAST algorithm but querying in silico bisulphite modified genome sequences to evaluate oligonucleotide sequence similarities. Apart from the primer specificity analysis tool, we have also developed a public database termed methPrimerDB for the storage and retrieval of validated PCR based methylation assays. The web interface allows free public access to perform methBLAST searches or database queries and to submit user based information. Database records can be searched by gene symbol, nucleotide sequence, analytical method used, Entrez Gene or methPrimerDB identifier, and submitter's name. Each record contains a link to Entrez Gene and PubMed to retrieve additional information on the gene, its genomic context and the article in which the methylation assay was described. To assure and maintain data integrity and accuracy, the database is linked to other reference databases. Currently, the database contains primer records for the most popular PCR-based methylation analysis methods to study human, mouse and rat epigenetic modifications. methPrimerDB and methBLAST are available at and .
We have developed two integrated and freely available web-tools for PCR based methylation analysis. methBLAST allows in silico assessment of primer specificity in PCR based methylation assays that can be stored in the methPrimerDB database, which provides a search portal for validated methylation assays.
The RTPrimerDB () project provides a freely accessible data retrieval system and an in silico assay evaluation pipeline for real-time quantitative PCR assays. Over the last year the number of user submitted assays has grown to 3500. Data conveyance from Entrez Gene by establishing an assay-to-gene relationship enables the addition of new primer assays for one of the 1.5 million different genes from 2300 species stored in the system. Easy access to the primer and probe data is possible by using multiple search criteria. Assay reports contain gene information, assay details (such as oligonucleotide sequences, detection chemistry and reaction conditions), publication information, users' experimental evaluation feedback and submitter's contact details. Gene expression assays are extended with a scalable assay viewer that provides detailed information on the alignment of primer and probe sequences on the known transcript variants of a gene, along with Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) positions and peptide domain information. Furthermore, an mfold module is implemented to predict the secondary structure of the amplicon sequence, as this has been reported to impact the efficiency of the PCR. RTPrimerDB is also extended with an in silico analysis pipeline to streamline the evaluation of custom designed primer and probe sequences prior to ordering and experimental evaluation. In a secured environment, the pipeline performs automated BLAST specificity searches, mfold secondary structure prediction, SNP or plain sequence error identification, and graphical visualization of the aligned primer and probe sequences on the target gene.
The availability of the human genome sequence as well as the large number of physically accessible oligonucleotides, cDNA, and BAC clones across the entire genome has triggered and accelerated the use of several platforms for analysis of DNA copy number changes, amongst others microarray comparative genomic hybridization (arrayCGH). One of the challenges inherent to this new technology is the management and analysis of large numbers of data points generated in each individual experiment.
We have developed arrayCGHbase, a comprehensive analysis platform for arrayCGH experiments consisting of a MIAME (Minimal Information About a Microarray Experiment) supportive database using MySQL underlying a data mining web tool, to store, analyze, interpret, compare, and visualize arrayCGH results in a uniform and user-friendly format. Following its flexible design, arrayCGHbase is compatible with all existing and forthcoming arrayCGH platforms. Data can be exported in a multitude of formats, including BED files to map copy number information on the genome using the Ensembl or UCSC genome browser.
ArrayCGHbase is a web based and platform independent arrayCGH data analysis tool, that allows users to access the analysis suite through the internet or a local intranet after installation on a private server. ArrayCGHbase is available at .
The real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methodology has become increasingly popular for nucleic acids detection and/or quantification. As primer/probe design and experimental evaluation is time-consuming, we developed a public database application for the storage and retrieval of validated real-time PCR primer and probe sequence records. The integrity and accuracy of the data are maintained by linking to and querying other reference databases. RTPrimerDB provides free public access through the Web to perform queries and submit user based information. Primer/probe records can be searched for by official gene symbol, nucleotide sequence, type of application, detection chemistry, LocusLink or Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) identifier, and submitter's name. Each record is directly linked to LocusLink, dbSNP and/or PubMed to retrieve additional information on the gene/SNP for which the primers/probes are designed. Currently, the database contains primer/probe records for human, mouse, rat, fruit fly and zebrafish, and all current detection chemistries such as intercalating dyes (SYBR Green I), hydrolysis probes (Taqman), adjacent hybridizations probes and molecular beacons. Real-time PCR primer/probe records are available at http://www.realtimeprimerdatabase.ht.st.
Using real-time reverse transcription PCR ten housekeeping genes from different abundance and functional classes in various human tissues were evaluated. The conventional use of a single gene for normalization leads to relatively large errors in a significant proportion of samples tested.
Gene-expression analysis is increasingly important in biological research, with real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) becoming the method of choice for high-throughput and accurate expression profiling of selected genes. Given the increased sensitivity, reproducibility and large dynamic range of this methodology, the requirements for a proper internal control gene for normalization have become increasingly stringent. Although housekeeping gene expression has been reported to vary considerably, no systematic survey has properly determined the errors related to the common practice of using only one control gene, nor presented an adequate way of working around this problem.
We outline a robust and innovative strategy to identify the most stably expressed control genes in a given set of tissues, and to determine the minimum number of genes required to calculate a reliable normalization factor. We have evaluated ten housekeeping genes from different abundance and functional classes in various human tissues, and demonstrated that the conventional use of a single gene for normalization leads to relatively large errors in a significant proportion of samples tested. The geometric mean of multiple carefully selected housekeeping genes was validated as an accurate normalization factor by analyzing publicly available microarray data.
The normalization strategy presented here is a prerequisite for accurate RT-PCR expression profiling, which, among other things, opens up the possibility of studying the biological relevance of small expression differences.
Since the identification of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, several hundred different germline mutations in both genes have been reported. Recurrent mutations are rare and mainly due to founder effects. As the mutational spectrum of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in the Belgian patient population is largely unknown, we initiated mutation analysis for the complete coding sequence of both genes in Belgian families with multiple breast and/or ovarian cancer patients and in “sporadic” patients with early onset disease. We completed the analysis in 49 families and in 19 “sporadic” female patients with early onset breast and/or ovarian cancer. In 15 families we identified a mutation (12 mutations in BRCA1 and 3 mutations in BRCA2). In 5 apparently unrelated families the same splice site mutation was identified (BRCA1 IVS5+3A>G). Haplotype analysis revealed a common haplotype immediately flanking the mutation in all families suggesting that disease alleles are identical by descent. In none of the 19 sporadic patients was a mutation found.
Mutation analysis of the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) gene has shown that about 30% of NF1 patients carry a splice mutation resulting in the production of one or several shortened transcripts. Some of these transcripts were also found in fresh lymphocytes of healthy individuals, albeit typically at a very low level. Starting from this initial observation, we were interested to gain further insight into the complex nature of NF1 mRNA processing.
We have used a RT-PCR plasmid library based method to identify novel NF1 splice variants. Several transcripts were observed with specific insertions/deletions and a survey was made. This large group of variants detected in one single gene allows to perform a comparative analysis of the factors involved in splice regulation. Exons that are prone to skipping were systematically analysed for 5' and 3' splice site strength, branch point strength and secondary structure.
Our study revealed a complex splicing pattern, generating a great diversity in NF1 transcripts. We found that, on average, exons that are spliced out in part of the mRNA have significantly weaker acceptor sites. Some variants identified in this study could have distinct roles and might expand our knowledge of neurofibromin.