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1.  Adult Phenotypes in Angelman- and Rett-Like Syndromes 
Molecular Syndromology  2012;2(3-5):217-234.
Angelman- and Rett-like syndromes share a range of clinical characteristics, including intellectual disability (ID) with or without regression, epilepsy, infantile encephalopathy, postnatal microcephaly, features of autism spectrum disorder, and variable other neurological symptoms. The phenotypic spectrum generally has been well studied in children; however, evolution of the phenotypic spectrum into adulthood has been documented less extensively. To obtain more insight into natural course and prognosis of these syndromes with respect to developmental, medical, and socio-behavioral outcomes, we studied the phenotypes of 9 adult patients who were recently diagnosed with 6 different Angelman- and Rett-like syndromes.
All these patients were ascertained during an ongoing cohort study involving a systematic clinical genetic diagnostic evaluation of over 250, mainly adult patients with ID of unknown etiology.
We describe the evolution of the phenotype in adults with EHMT1, TCF4, MECP2, CDKL5, and SCN1A mutations and 22qter deletions and also provide an overview of previously published adult cases with similar diagnoses.
These data are highly valuable in adequate management and follow-up of patients with Angelman- and Rett-like syndromes and accurate counseling of their family members. Furthermore, they will contribute to recognition of these syndromes in previously undiagnosed adult patients.
PMCID: PMC3366698  PMID: 22670143
Adult phenotypes; Angelman- and Rett-like syndromes; CDKL5; Dravet syndrome; Kleefstra syndrome; Male MECP2; Phelan-McDermid syndrome; Pitt Hopkins syndrome
2.  Recurrent and founder mutations in the Netherlands 
Netherlands Heart Journal  2010;18(2):85-89.
Background/Methods. Marfan syndrome (MFS) is a heritable connective tissue disorder usually caused by a mutation in the fibrillin 1 (FBN1) gene. Typical characteristics of MFS that have been described include dolichostenomelia, ectopia lentis and aortic root dilatation. However, there is great clinical variability in the expression of the syndrome's manifestations, both between and within families. Here we discuss the clinical variability of MFS by describing a large fourgeneration Dutch family with MFS.
Results. Nineteen individuals of one family with a single missense FBN1 mutation (c.7916A>G) were identified. The same mutation was found in one unrelated person. Clinical variability was extensive and not all mutation carriers fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for MFS. Some patients only expressed mild skeletal abnormalities, whereas aortic root dilation was present in eight patients, an acute type A aortic dissection was recorded in two other patients, and a mitral valve prolapse was present in eight patients. In some patients cardiac features were not present on initial screening, but did however develop over time.
Conclusion. MFS is a clinically highly variable syndrome, which means a meticulous evaluation of suspected cases is crucial. Mutation carriers should be re-evaluated regularly as cardiovascular symptoms may develop over time. (Neth Heart J 2010;18:85–9.)
PMCID: PMC2828568  PMID: 20200614
Marfan Syndrome/genetics; Microfilament Proteins; Mutation; Missense; Netherlands
3.  Jeune syndrome: description of 13 cases and a proposal for follow-up protocol 
European Journal of Pediatrics  2009;169(1):77-88.
Jeune syndrome (asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy, ATD) is a rare autosomal recessive skeletal dysplasia characterized by a small, narrow chest and variable limb shortness with a considerable neonatal mortality as a result of respiratory distress. Renal, hepatic, pancreatic and ocular complications may occur later in life. We describe 13 cases with ages ranging from 9 months to 22 years. Most patients experienced respiratory problems in the first years of their life, three died, one experienced renal complications, and one had hepatic problems. With age, the thoracic malformation tends to become less pronounced and the respiratory problems decrease. The prognosis of ATD seems better than described in literature and in our opinion this justifies long term intensive treatment in the first years. We also propose a follow-up protocol for patients with ATD.
PMCID: PMC2776156  PMID: 19430947
Jeune syndrome; Asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy; Survival; Follow-up protocol
4.  Marfan syndrome masked by Down syndrome? 
Netherlands Heart Journal  2009;17(9):345-348.
Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality. A simultaneous occurrence with Marfan syndrome is extremely rare. We present a case of a 28-year-old female with Down syndrome and a mutation in the fibrillin-1 gene. The patient showed strikingly few manifestations of Marfan syndrome. Although variable expression is known to be present in Marfan syndrome, phenotypic expression of Marfan syndrome in our patient might be masked by the co-occurrence of Down syndrome. (Neth Heart J 2009;17:345-8.)
PMCID: PMC2758350  PMID: 19949477
Marfan syndrome; Down syndrome; trisomy 21; coexistence; FBN1
5.  A second locus for Aicardi‐Goutières syndrome at chromosome 13q14–21 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;43(5):444-450.
Aicardi‐Goutières syndrome (AGS) is an autosomal recessive, early onset encephalopathy characterised by calcification of the basal ganglia, chronic cerebrospinal fluid lymphocytosis, and negative serological investigations for common prenatal infections. AGS may result from a perturbation of interferon α metabolism. The disorder is genetically heterogeneous with approximately 50% of families mapping to the first known locus at 3p21 (AGS1).
A genome‐wide scan was performed in 10 families with a clinical diagnosis of AGS in whom linkage to AGS1 had been excluded. Higher density genotyping in regions of interest was also undertaken using the 10 mapping pedigrees and seven additional AGS families.
Our results demonstrate significant linkage to a second AGS locus (AGS2) at chromosome 13q14–21 with a maximum multipoint heterogeneity logarithm of the odds (LOD) score of 5.75 at D13S768. The AGS2 locus lies within a 4.7 cM region as defined by a 1 LOD‐unit support interval.
We have identified a second AGS disease locus and at least one further locus. As in a number of other conditions, genetic heterogeneity represents a significant obstacle to gene identification in AGS. The localisation of AGS2 represents an important step in this process.
PMCID: PMC2649012  PMID: 15908569
AGS2; Aicardi‐Goutières syndrome; interferon α; intracranial calcification; 13q14–21
6.  Chromosomal copy number changes in patients with non‐syndromic X linked mental retardation detected by array CGH 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;43(4):362-370.
Several studies have shown that array based comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) is a powerful tool for the detection of copy number changes in the genome of individuals with a congenital disorder. In this study, 40 patients with non‐specific X linked mental retardation were analysed with full coverage, X chromosomal, bacterial artificial chromosome arrays. Copy number changes were validated by multiplex ligation dependent probe amplification as a fast method to detect duplications and deletions in patient and control DNA. This approach has the capacity to detect copy number changes as small as 100 kb. We identified three causative duplications: one family with a 7 Mb duplication in Xp22.2 and two families with a 500 kb duplication in Xq28 encompassing the MECP2 gene. In addition, we detected four regions with copy number changes that were frequently identified in our group of patients and therefore most likely represent genomic polymorphisms. These results confirm the power of array CGH as a diagnostic tool, but also emphasise the necessity to perform proper validation experiments by an independent technique.
PMCID: PMC2563232  PMID: 16169931
Array CGH; XLMR; duplications; copy number polymorphisms (CNPs); MLPA
7.  Mutations in PHF8 are associated with X linked mental retardation and cleft lip/cleft palate 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;42(10):780-786.
Truncating mutations were found in the PHF8 gene (encoding the PHD finger protein 8) in two unrelated families with X linked mental retardation (XLMR) associated with cleft lip/palate (MIM 300263). Expression studies showed that this gene is ubiquitously transcribed, with strong expression of the mouse orthologue Phf8 in embryonic and adult brain structures. The coded PHF8 protein harbours two functional domains, a PHD finger and a JmjC (Jumonji-like C terminus) domain, implicating it in transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodelling. The association of XLMR and cleft lip/palate in these patients with mutations in PHF8 suggests an important function of PHF8 in midline formation and in the development of cognitive abilities, and links this gene to XLMR associated with cleft lip/palate. Further studies will explore the specific mechanisms whereby PHF8 alterations lead to mental retardation and midline defects.
PMCID: PMC1735927  PMID: 16199551
8.  Disruption of the gene Euchromatin Histone Methyl Transferase1 (Eu-HMTase1) is associated with the 9q34 subtelomeric deletion syndrome 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;42(4):299-306.
Background: A new syndrome has been recognised following thorough analysis of patients with a terminal submicroscopic subtelomeric deletion of chromosome 9q. These have in common severe mental retardation, hypotonia, brachycephaly, flat face with hypertelorism, synophrys, anteverted nares, thickened lower lip, carp mouth with macroglossia, and conotruncal heart defects. The minimum critical region responsible for this 9q subtelomeric deletion syndrome (9q–) is approximately 1.2 Mb and encompasses at least 14 genes.
Objective: To characterise the breakpoints of a de novo balanced translocation t(X;9)(p11.23;q34.3) in a mentally retarded female patient with clinical features similar to the 9q– syndrome.
Results: Sequence analysis of the break points showed that the translocation was fully balanced and only one gene on chromosome 9 was disrupted—Euchromatin Histone Methyl Transferase1 (Eu-HMTase1)—encoding a histone H3 lysine 9 methyltransferase (H3-K9 HMTase). This indicates that haploinsufficiency of Eu-HMTase1 is responsible for the 9q submicroscopic subtelomeric deletion syndrome. This observation was further supported by the spatio-temporal expression of the gene. Using tissue in situ hybridisation studies in mouse embryos and adult brain, Eu-HMTase1 was shown to be expressed in the developing nervous system and in specific peripheral tissues. While expression is selectively downregulated in adult brain, substantial expression is retained in the olfactory bulb, anterior/ventral lateral ventricular wall, and hippocampus and weakly in the piriform cortex.
Conclusions: The expression pattern of this gene suggests a role in the CNS development and function, which is in line with the severe mental retardation and behaviour problems in patients who lack one copy of the gene.
PMCID: PMC1736026  PMID: 15805155
14.  The p63 gene in EEC and other syndromes 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2002;39(6):377-381.
PMCID: PMC1735150  PMID: 12070241
16.  A new X linked neurodegenerative syndrome with mental retardation, blindness, convulsions, spasticity, mild hypomyelination, and early death maps to the pericentromeric region 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1999;36(2):140-143.
We report on a family with an X linked neurodegenerative disorder consisting of mental retardation, blindness, convulsions, spasticity, and early death. Neuropathological examination showed mild hypomyelination. By linkage analysis, the underlying genetic defect could be assigned to the pericentromeric region of the X chromosome with a maximum lod score of 3.30 at θ=0.0 for the DXS1204 locus with DXS337 and PGK1P1 as flanking markers.

Keywords: XLMR; hypomyelination; early death; pericentromeric region
PMCID: PMC1734300  PMID: 10051014
17.  Evidence for an ependymoma tumour suppressor gene in chromosome region 22pter–22q11.2 
British Journal of Cancer  1999;81(7):1150-1154.
Ependymomas are glial tumours of the brain and spinal cord. The most frequent genetic change in sporadic ependymoma is monosomy 22, suggesting the presence of an ependymoma tumour suppressor gene on that chromosome. Clustering of ependymomas has been reported to occur in some families. From an earlier study in a family in which four cousins developed an ependymoma, we concluded that an ependymoma-susceptibility gene, which is not the NF2 gene in 22q12, might be located on chromosome 22. To localize that gene, we performed a segregation analysis with chromosome 22 markers in this family. This analysis revealed that the susceptibility gene may be located proximal to marker D22S941 in 22pter–22q11.2. Comparative genomic hybridization showed that monosomy 22 was the sole detectable genetic aberration in the tumour of one of the patients. Loss of heterozygosity studies in that tumour revealed that, in accordance to Knudson’s two-hit theory of tumorigenesis, the lost chromosome 22 originated from the parent presumed to have contributed the wild-type allele of the susceptibility gene. Thus, our segregation and tumour studies collectively indicate that an ependymoma tumour suppressor gene may be present in region 22pter–22q11.2. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2374323  PMID: 10584875
ependymoma; familial clustering; tumour suppressor gene; chromosome 22
18.  Localisation of a gene for non-specific X linked mental retardation (MRX46) to Xq25-q26. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1998;35(10):801-805.
We report linkage data on a new large family with non-specific X linked mental retardation (MRX), using 24 polymorphic markers covering the entire X chromosome. We could assign the underlying disease gene, denoted MRX46, to the Xq25-q26 region. MRX46 is tightly linked to the markers DXS8072, HPRT, and DXS294 with a maximum lod score of 5.12 at theta=0. Recombination events were observed with DXS425 in Xq25 and DXS984 at the Xq26-Xq27 boundary, which localises MRX46 to a 20.9 cM (12 Mb) interval. Several X linked mental retardation syndromes have been mapped to the same region of the X chromosome. In addition, the localisation of two MRX genes, MRX27 and MRX35, partially overlaps with the linkage interval obtained for MRX46. Although an extension of the linkage analysis for MRX35 showed only a minimal overlap with MRX46, it cannot be excluded that the same gene is involved in several of these MRX disorders. On the other hand, given the considerable genetic heterogeneity in MRX, one should be extremely cautious in using interfamilial linkage data to narrow down the localisation of MRX genes. Therefore, unless the underlying gene(s) is characterised by the analysis of candidate genes, MRX46 can be considered a new independent MRX locus.
PMCID: PMC1051453  PMID: 9783701
19.  Two sibs with chorioretinal dystrophy, hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism, and cerebellar ataxia: Boucher-Neuhäuser syndrome. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1997;34(9):767-771.
We describe two sibs with chorioretinal dystrophy, hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism, and cerebellar ataxia, Boucher-Neuhäuser syndrome, a rare but distinct pleiotropic single gene disorder with an autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance. The cases presented illustrate that this syndrome is still poorly recognised. We provide a review and analysis of previously reported cases and the differential diagnosis, which might aid in the identification of additional cases.
PMCID: PMC1051065  PMID: 9321767
20.  PAX genes and human neural tube defects: an amino acid substitution in PAX1 in a patient with spina bifida. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1996;33(8):655-660.
From studies in the mouse and from the clinical and molecular analysis of patients with type 1 Waardenburg syndrome, particular members of the PAX gene family are suspected factors in the aetiology of human neural tube defects (NTD). To investigate the role of PAX1, PAX3, PAX7, and PAX9, allelic association studies were performed in 79 sporadic and 38 familial NTD patients from the Dutch population. Sequence variation was studied by SSC analysis of the paired domain regions of the PAX1, PAX7, and PAX9 genes and of the complete PAX3 gene. In one patient with spina bifida, a mutation in the PAX1 gene was detected changing the conserved amino acid Gln to His at position 42 in the paired domain of the protein. The mutation was inherited through the maternal line from the unaffected grandmother and was not detected in 300 controls. In the PAX3 gene, variation was detected at several sites including a Thr/Lys amino acid substitution in exon 6. All alleles were present among patients and controls in about the same frequencies. However, an increased frequency of the rare allele of a silent polymorphism in exon 2 was found in NTD patients, but no significant association was observed (p = 0.06). No sequence variation was observed in the paired domain of the PAX7 and PAX9 genes. Our findings so far do not support a major role of the PAX genes examined in the aetiology of NTD. However, the detection of a mutation in PAX1 suggests that, in principle, this gene can act as a risk factor for human NTD.
PMCID: PMC1050699  PMID: 8863157
21.  Xeroderma pigmentosum--Cockayne syndrome complex: a further case. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1996;33(7):607-610.
We report on a male patient born to healthy, first cousin, Moroccan parents. During the pregnancy growth retardation was observed. Birth weight, length, and OFC were all well below the 3rd centile. Facial anomalies, microphthalmia, cleft palate, small penis, and flexion contractures of large joints were noted. Cerebral MRI showed dysmyelination. The clinical course was characterised by feeding difficulties, growth failure, lack of development, photosensitivity, and death at 7 months. The main differential diagnoses were COFS syndrome and early onset Cockayne syndrome (CS). UV exposure of cultured fibroblasts showed inhibition of nucleic acids synthesis. Further DNA repair studies showed extreme cellular sensitivity to UV and xeroderma pigmentosum (XP)-like defective nucleotide excision repair (NER), which in combination with the clinical symptoms indicated the very rare XP-CS complex. Complementation analysis showed that the XPG gene is affected in this patient. In cases suspected of having COFS syndrome and early onset CS, extensive DNA repair studies are needed to reach the definitive diagnosis, thereby allowing reliable genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC1050673  PMID: 8818951
22.  Absence of linkage between familial neural tube defects and PAX3 gene. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1995;32(3):200-204.
Neural tube defects (NTD) are among the most common and disabling birth defects. The aetiology of NTD is unknown and their genetics are complex. The majority of NTD cases are sporadic, isolated, nonsyndromic, and generally considered to be multifactorial in origin. Recently, PAX3 (formerly HuP2, the human homologue of mouse Pax-3), on chromosome 2q35-37, was suggested as a candidate gene for NTD because mutations of Pax-3 cause the mouse mutant Splotch (Sp), an animal model for human NTD. Mutations in PAX3 were also identified in patients with Waardenburg syndrome type 1 (WS1). At least eight patients with both WS1 and NTD have been described suggesting pleiotropy or a contiguous gene syndrome. Seventeen US families and 14 Dutch families with more than one affected person with NTD were collected and 194 people (50 affected) from both data sets were genotyped using the PAX3 polymorphic marker. The data were analysed using affecteds only linkage analysis. The lod scores were -7.30 (US), -3.74 (Dutch), and -11.04 (combined) at theta = 0.0, under the assumption of the autosomal dominant model. For the recessive model, the lod scores were -3.30 (US), -1.46 (Dutch), and -4.76 (combined) at theta = 0.0. Linkage between PAX3 and familial NTD was excluded to 9.9 cM on either side of the gene for the dominant model and to 3.63 cM on either side of the gene for the recessive model in the families studied. No evidence of heterogeneity was detected using the HOMOG program. Our data indicate that PAX3 is not a major gene for NTD.
PMCID: PMC1050317  PMID: 7783169
23.  A frameshift mutation in the gene for PAX3 in a girl with spina bifida and mild signs of Waardenburg syndrome. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1995;32(1):52-56.
Neural tube defects (NTD) are among the most prevalent congenital malformations in man. Based on the molecular defect of Splotch, an established mouse model for NTD, and on the clinical association between NTD and Waardenburg syndrome (WS), mutations in the PAX3 gene can be expected to act as factors predisposing to human NTD. To test this hypothesis, 39 patients with familial NTD were screened by SSC analysis for mutations in exons 2 to 6 of the human PAX3 gene. One patient with lumbosacral meningomyelocele was identified with a 5 bp deletion in exon 5 approximately 55 bp upstream of the conserved homeodomain. The deletion causes a frameshift with a stop codon almost immediately after the mutated site. Clinical investigation of the index patient indicated mild signs of WS type I. Varying signs of this syndrome were found to cosegregate with the mutation in the family. Our results support the hypothesis that mutations in the gene for PAX3 can predispose to NTD, but also show that, in general, mutations within or near the conserved domains of the PAX3 protein are only very infrequently involved in familial NTD.
PMCID: PMC1050180  PMID: 7897628
24.  Down-Turner syndrome: case report and review. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1994;31(10):807-810.
We present a male patient with Down-Turner mosaicism (45,X/46,X,+21/47,XY,+21) and review 27 similar cases reported so far. Clinical features of Down's syndrome were present in all cases, whereas a combination of features of both Ullrich-Turner syndrome and Down's syndrome was reported in 61% of the patients. However, one has to bear in mind that several stigmata of Ullrich-Turner syndrome can also be present in patients with Down's syndrome and vice versa. In most of the patients two different cell lines were encountered, although cases with one, three, and even four different cell lines have been reported. Of 28 patients, 21 showed female external genitalia, four were phenotypically male, and three showed ambiguous genitalia. Only six patients (21%) carried a Y chromosome, which is far less than expected.
PMCID: PMC1050129  PMID: 7837259
25.  Intestinal pseudo-obstruction in myotonic dystrophy. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1992;29(11):791-793.
We describe four myotonic dystrophy (DM) patients who developed recurrent intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Some episodes were associated with gastroenteritis, while abdominal crowding may have occurred in one case during the third trimester of pregnancy. In most instances, however, no apparent cause could be identified. Intestinal pseudo-obstruction may occur at any stage of DM. In one of our cases intestinal pseudo-obstruction preceded significant muscle weakness by 15 years. Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is usually treated effectively with conservative measures. These include restriction of oral intake, intravenous fluids, and multiple enemas or colonoscopy. Improved intestinal function was noted in one case treated with the prokinetic agent cisapride. A partial sigmoid resection was performed in three cases with dolichomegacolon. No abnormalities were reported on histological examination. Since intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a rare complication of DM, it is of interest that two of our cases are sibs. Review of published reports showed several reports of familial occurrence of specific complications. These include cardiac conduction disturbances, focal myocarditis, mitral valve prolapse, pilomatrixomas, polyneuropathy, normal pressure hydrocephalus, and dilatation of the urinary tract. Myotonic dystrophy may show a tendency to familial clustering of organ specific involvement.
PMCID: PMC1016174  PMID: 1453429

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