Microcephaly-capillary malformation (MIC-CAP) syndrome exhibits severe microcephaly with progressive cortical atrophy, intractable epilepsy, profound developmental delay and multiple small capillary malformations on the skin. We employed whole-exome sequencing of five patients with MIC-CAP syndrome and identified novel recessive mutations in STAMBP, a gene encoding the deubiquitinating (DUB) isopeptidase STAMBP (STAM-binding protein)/AMSH (Associated Molecule with the SH3 domain of STAM), that plays a key role in cell surface receptor-mediated endocytosis and sorting. Patient cell lines showed reduced STAMBP expression associated with accumulation of ubiquitin-conjugated protein aggregates, elevated apoptosis and insensitive activation of the RAS-MAPK and PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathways. The latter cellular phenotype is significant considering the established connection between these pathways and their association with vascular and capillary malformations. Furthermore, our findings of a congenital human disorder caused by a defective DUB protein that functions in endocytosis, implicates ubiquitin-conjugate aggregation and elevated apoptosis as factors potentially influencing the progressive neuronal loss underlying MIC-CAP.
PMID: 23542699 CAMSID: cams4064
Genomic rearrangements such as intragenic deletions and duplications are the most prevalent type of mutations in the dystrophin gene resulting in Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (D/BMD). These copy number variations (CNVs) are nonrecurrent and can result from either nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) or microhomology-mediated replication-dependent recombination (MMRDR). We characterized five DMD patients with complex genomic rearrangements using a combination of MLPA/mRNA transcript analysis/custom array comparative hybridization arrays (CGH) and breakpoint sequence analysis to investigate the mechanisms for these rearrangements. Two patients had complex rearrangements that involved microhomologies at breakpoints. One patient had a noncontiguous insertion of 89.7 kb chromosome 4 into intron 43 of DMD involving three breakpoints with 2–5 bp microhomology at the junctions. A second patient had an inversion of exon 44 flanked by intronic deletions with two breakpoint junctions each showing 2 bp microhomology. The third patient was a female with an inherited deletion of exon 47 in DMD on the maternal allele and a de novo noncontiguous duplication of exons 45–49 in DMD and MID1 on the paternal allele. The other two patients harbored complex noncontiguous duplications within the dystrophin gene. We propose a replication-based mechanisms for all five complex DMD rearrangements. This study identifies additional underlying mechanisms in DMD, and provides insight into the molecular bases of these genomic rearrangements.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; dystrophin; MMRDR; mRNA; rearrangement; replication
Ataxia demonstrates substantial phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity. We set out to determine the diagnostic yield of exome sequencing in pediatric patients with ataxia without a molecular diagnosis after standard-of-care assessment in Canada. FORGE (Finding Of Rare disease GEnes) Canada is a nation-wide project focused on identifying novel disease genes for rare pediatric diseases using whole-exome sequencing. We retrospectively selected all FORGE Canada projects that included cerebellar ataxia as a feature. We identified 28 such families and a molecular diagnosis was made in 13; a success rate of 46%. In 11 families, we identified mutations in genes associated with known neurological syndromes and in two we identified novel disease genes. Exome analysis of sib pairs and/or patients born to consanguineous parents was more likely to be successful (9/13) than simplex cases (4/15). Our data suggest that exome sequencing is an effective first line test for pediatric patients with ataxia where a specific single gene is not immediately suspected to be causative.
ataxia; whole-exome sequencing; clinical diagnosis
Glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS) is an aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase (ARS) that links the amino acid glycine to its corresponding tRNA prior to protein translation and is one of three bifunctional ARS that are active within both the cytoplasm and mitochondria. Dominant mutations in GARS cause rare forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and distal spinal muscular atrophy.
We report a 12-year old girl who presented with clinical and biochemical features of a systemic mitochondrial disease including exercise-induced myalgia, non-compaction cardiomyopathy, persistent elevation of blood lactate and alanine and MRI evidence of mild periventricular leukomalacia. Using exome sequencing she was found to harbor compound heterozygous mutations within the glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS) gene; c.1904C > T; p.Ser635Leu and c.1787G > A; p.Arg596Gln. Each mutation occurred at a highly conserved site within the anticodon binding domain.
Our findings suggest that recessive mutations in GARS may cause systemic mitochondrial disease. This phenotype is distinct from patients with previously reported dominant mutations in this gene, thereby expanding the spectrum of disease associated with GARS dysregulation.
Glycyl-tRNA synthetase; Amino acyl-tRNA synthetase; Cardiomyopathy; Charcot-Marie-tooth disease
Despite remarkable advances in genetic testing, many adults with syndromic epilepsy remain without a molecular diagnosis. The challenge in providing genetic testing for this patient population lies in the extensive genetic heterogeneity associated with epilepsy. Even for the subset of epilepsy patients that present with a defining feature, such as microcephaly, the number of possible genes that would require interrogation by Sanger sequencing is extensive and often prohibitively expensive.
We report a family of French Canadian descent with four adult children affected with severe intellectual disability, epilepsy and microcephaly born to consanguineous parents and evaluated by the Genetics Service to provide informed genetic counseling to unaffected family members regarding possible recurrence risks. We used whole-exome sequencing (WES) of DNA from one affected sibling as a first-line diagnostic tool and compared the prioritization of variants using two strategies: 1) focusing on genes with homozygous variants; and, 2) focusing on genes associated with microcephaly. Both approaches prioritized the same homozygous novel frameshift mutation (p.Arg608Serfs*26) in WDR62, a gene known to cause autosomal recessive primary microcephaly. Sanger sequencing confirmed the presence of the homozygous mutation in the other three affected siblings.
WES and subsequent filtering of the rare variants in a single affected family member led to the rapid and cost-effective identification of a novel homozygous frameshift mutation in WDR62, thereby explaining the severe neurodevelopmental disorder in this family and facilitating genetic counseling. Our findings support WES as an effective first-line diagnostic tool in families presenting with rare genetically heterogeneous neurological disorders.
Primary microcephaly; Epilepsy; Whole-exome sequencing; WDR62
Methylmalonate semialdehyde dehydrogenase (MMSDH) deficiency is a rare autosomal recessive disorder with varied metabolite abnormalities, including accumulation of 3-hydroxyisobutyric, 3-hydroxypropionic, 3-aminoisobutyric and methylmalonic acids, as well as β-alanine. Existing reports describe a highly variable clinical and biochemical phenotype, which can make diagnosis a challenge. To date, only three reported cases have been confirmed at the molecular level, through identification of homozygous mutations in ALDH6A1, the gene encoding MMSDH. Confirmation by enzyme assay has until now not been possible, due to the extreme instability of the enzyme substrate.
Methods and results
We report a child with severe developmental delays, abnormal myelination on brain MRI, and transient/variable elevations in lactate, methylmalonic acid, 3-hydroxyisobutyric and 3-aminoisobutyric acids. Compound heterozygous mutations were identified by exome sequencing and confirmed by Sanger sequencing within exon 6 (c.514 T > C; p. Tyr172His) and exon 12 (c.1603C > T; p. Arg535Cys) of ALDH6A1. The resulting amino acid changes, both occurring in residues conserved among mammals, are predicted to be damaging at the protein level. Subsequent MMSDH enzyme assay demonstrated reduced activity in patient fibroblasts, measuring 2.5 standard deviations below the mean.
We present the fourth reported case of MMSDH deficiency with confirmation at the molecular level, and expand on what is already an extremely variable clinical and biochemical phenotype. Furthermore, this is the first report to demonstrate a corresponding reduction in MMSDH enzyme activity. This report illustrates the emerging utilization of whole exome sequencing and variant data filtering using clinical data as an early tool in the diagnosis of rare and variable conditions.
Methylmalonate semialdehyde dehydrogenase; ALDH6A1; Methylmalonic acid; Delayed myelination; Whole exome sequencing
Floating-Harbor syndrome (FHS) is a rare condition characterized by short stature, delays in expressive language, and a distinctive facial appearance. Recently, heterozygous truncating mutations in SRCAP were determined to be disease-causing. With the availability of a DNA based confirmatory test, we set forth to define the clinical features of this syndrome.
Methods and results
Clinical information on fifty-two individuals with SRCAP mutations was collected using standardized questionnaires. Twenty-four males and twenty-eight females were studied with ages ranging from 2 to 52 years. The facial phenotype and expressive language impairments were defining features within the group. Height measurements were typically between minus two and minus four standard deviations, with occipitofrontal circumferences usually within the average range. Thirty-three of the subjects (63%) had at least one major anomaly requiring medical intervention. We did not observe any specific phenotype-genotype correlations.
This large cohort of individuals with molecularly confirmed FHS has allowed us to better delineate the clinical features of this rare but classic genetic syndrome, thereby facilitating the development of management protocols.
SRCAP; Floating Harbor syndrome; Phenotype; Short stature
Megalencephaly-capillary malformation (MCAP) and megalencephaly-polymicrogyria-polydactyly-hydrocephalus (MPPH) syndromes are sporadic overgrowth disorders associated with markedly enlarged brain size and other recognizable features1-5. We performed exome sequencing in three families with MCAP or MPPH and confirmed our initial observations in exomes from 7 MCAP and 174 control individuals, as well as in 40 additional megalencephaly subjects using a combination of Sanger sequencing, restriction-enzyme assays, and targeted deep sequencing. We identified de novo germline or postzygotic mutations in three core components of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway. These include two mutations of AKT3, one recurrent mutation of PIK3R2 in 11 unrelated MPPH families, and 15 mostly postzygotic mutations of PIK3CA in 23 MCAP and one MPPH patients. Our data highlight the central role of PI3K/AKT signaling in vascular, limb and brain development, and emphasize the power of massively parallel sequencing in a challenging context of phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity combined with postzygotic mosaicism.
D-bifunctional protein (DBP) deficiency is typically apparent within the first month of life with most infants demonstrating hypotonia, psychomotor delay and seizures. Few children survive beyond two years of age. Among patients with prolonged survival all demonstrate severe gross motor delay, absent language development, and severe hearing and visual impairment. DBP contains three catalytically active domains; an N-terminal dehydrogenase, a central hydratase and a C-terminal sterol carrier protein-2-like domain. Three subtypes of the disease are identified based upon the domain affected; DBP type I results from a combined deficiency of dehydrogenase and hydratase activity; DBP type II from isolated hydratase deficiency and DBP type III from isolated dehydrogenase deficiency. Here we report two brothers (16½ and 14 years old) with DBP deficiency characterized by normal early childhood followed by sensorineural hearing loss, progressive cerebellar and sensory ataxia and subclinical retinitis pigmentosa.
Methods and results
Biochemical analysis revealed normal levels of plasma VLCFA, phytanic acid and pristanic acid, and normal bile acids in urine; based on these results no diagnosis was made. Exome analysis was performed using the Agilent SureSelect 50Mb All Exon Kit and the Illumina HiSeq 2000 next-generation-sequencing (NGS) platform. Compound heterozygous mutations were identified by exome sequencing and confirmed by Sanger sequencing within the dehydrogenase domain (c.101C>T; p.Ala34Val) and hydratase domain (c.1547T>C; p.Ile516Thr) of the 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 4 gene (HSD17B4). These mutations have been previously reported in patients with severe-forms of DBP deficiency, however each mutation was reported in combination with another mutation affecting the same domain. Subsequent studies in fibroblasts revealed normal VLCFA levels, normal C26:0 but reduced pristanic acid beta-oxidation activity. Both DBP hydratase and dehydrogenase activity were markedly decreased but detectable.
We propose that the DBP phenotype seen in this family represents a distinct and novel subtype of DBP deficiency, which we have termed type IV based on the presence of a missense mutation in each of the domains of DBP resulting in markedly reduced but detectable hydratase and dehydrogenase activity of DBP. Given that the biochemical testing in plasma was normal in these patients, this is likely an underdiagnosed form of DBP deficiency.
Polyneuropathy; Sensorineural hearing loss; Retinitis pigmentosa; Peroxisomes; Cerebellar ataxia; HSD17B4
Severe congenital neutropenia type 4 (SCN4) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the third subunit of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC3). Its core features are congenital neutropenia and a prominent venous skin pattern, and affected individuals have variable birth defects. Oculocutaneous albinism type 4 (OCA4) is caused by autosomal recessive mutations in SLC45A2.
We report a sister and brother from Newfoundland, Canada with complex phenotypes. The sister was previously reported by Cullinane et al., 2011. We performed homozygosity mapping, next generation sequencing and conventional Sanger sequencing to identify mutations that cause the phenotype in this family. We have also summarized clinical data from 49 previously reported SCN4 cases with overlapping phenotypes and interpret the medical histories of these siblings in the context of the literature.
The siblings’ phenotype is due in part to a homozygous mutation in G6PC3, [c.829C > T, p.Gln277X]. Their ages are 38 and 37 years respectively and they are the oldest SCN4 patients published to date. Both presented with congenital neutropenia and later developed Crohn disease. We suggest that the latter is a previously unrecognized SCN4 manifestation and that not all affected individuals have an intellectual disability. The sister also has a homozygous mutation in SLC45A2, which explains her severe oculocutaneous hypopigmentation. Her brother carried one SLC45A2 mutation and was diagnosed with “partial OCA” in childhood.
This family highlights that apparently novel syndromes can in fact be caused by two known autosomal recessive disorders.
Albinism; Exome sequencing; G6PC3 protein; Inflammatory bowel disease; Oculocutaneous albinism type 4 (OCA4); Neutropenia; Severe congenital neutropenia type 4 (SCN4); SLC45A2 protein
Split-hand/foot malformation with long-bone deficiency (SHFLD) is a relatively rare autosomal-dominant skeletal disorder, characterized by variable expressivity and incomplete penetrance. Although several chromosomal loci for SHFLD have been identified, the molecular basis and pathogenesis of most SHFLD cases are unknown. In this study we describe three unrelated kindreds, in which SHFLD segregated with distinct but overlapping duplications in 17p13.3, a region previously linked to SHFLD. In a large three-generation family, the disorder was found to segregate with a 254 kb microduplication; a second microduplication of 527 kb was identified in an affected female and her unaffected mother, and a 430 kb microduplication versus microtriplication was identified in three affected members of a multi-generational family. These findings, along with previously published data, suggest that one locus responsible for this form of SHFLD is located within a 173 kb overlapping critical region, and that the copy gains are incompletely penetrant.
split-hand/foot malformation; SHFM; SHFLD; microduplication; microarray; conserved regulatory element
Congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia is characterized by early gross motor delay, hypotonia, gait ataxia, mild dysarthria and dysmetria. The clinical presentation remains fairly stable and may be associated with cerebellar atrophy. To date, only a few families with autosomal dominant congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia have been reported. Linkage to 3pter was demonstrated in one large Australian family and this locus was designated spinocerebellar ataxia type 29. The objective of this study is to describe an unreported Canadian family with autosomal dominant congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia and to identify the underlying genetic causes in this family and the original Australian family.
Methods and Results
Exome sequencing was performed for the Australian family, resulting in the identification of a heterozygous mutation in the ITPR1 gene. For the Canadian family, genotyping with microsatellite markers and Sanger sequencing of ITPR1 gene were performed; a heterozygous missense mutation in ITPR1 was identified.
ITPR1 encodes inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor, type 1, a ligand-gated ion channel that mediates calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum. Deletions of ITPR1 are known to cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 15, a distinct and very slowly progressive form of cerebellar ataxia with onset in adulthood. Our study demonstrates for the first time that, in addition to spinocerebellar ataxia type 15, alteration of ITPR1 function can cause a distinct congenital nonprogressive ataxia; highlighting important clinical heterogeneity associated with the ITPR1 gene and a significant role of the ITPR1-related pathway in the development and maintenance of the normal functions of the cerebellum.
Congenital nonprogressive spinocerebellar ataxia; Spinocerebellar ataxia type 29; Cerebellar atrophy; ITPR1; Gene identification
With the advent of next-generation DNA sequencing, the pace of inherited orphan disease gene identification has increased dramatically, a situation that will continue for at least the next several years. At present, the numbers of such identified disease genes significantly outstrips the number of laboratories available to investigate a given disorder, an asymmetry that will only increase over time. The hope for any genetic disorder is, where possible and in addition to accurate diagnostic test formulation, the development of therapeutic approaches. To this end, we propose here the development of a strategic toolbox and preclinical research pathway for inherited orphan disease. Taking much of what has been learned from rare genetic disease research over the past two decades, we propose generalizable methods utilizing transcriptomic, system-wide chemical biology datasets combined with chemical informatics and, where possible, repurposing of FDA approved drugs for pre-clinical orphan disease therapies. It is hoped that this approach may be of utility for the broader orphan disease research community and provide funding organizations and patient advocacy groups with suggestions for the optimal path forward. In addition to enabling academic pre-clinical research, strategies such as this may also aid in seeding startup companies, as well as further engaging the pharmaceutical industry in the treatment of rare genetic disease.
Orphan disease therapy; Preclinical drug development; Generalizable screening methods; Translational toolbox
translocation 11;22; breast cancer; melanoma; esophageal cancer
Emanuel syndrome is characterized by multiple congenital anomalies and developmental disability. It is caused by the presence of a supernumerary derivative chromosome that contains material from chromosomes 11 and 22. The origin of this imbalance is 3:1 malsegregation of a parental balanced translocation between chromosomes 11 and 22, which is the most common recurrent reciprocal translocation in humans. Little has been published on the clinical features of this syndrome since the 1980s and information on natural history is limited. We designed a questionnaire to collect information from families recruited through an international online support group, Chromosome 22 Central. Data gathered include information on congenital anomalies, medical and surgical history, developmental and behavioural issues, and current abilities. We received information on 63 individuals with Emanuel syndrome, ranging in age from newborn to adulthood. As previously recognized, congenital anomalies were common, the most frequent being ear pits (76%), micrognathia (60%), heart malformations (57%), and cleft palate (54%). Our data suggest that vision and hearing impairment, seizures, failure to thrive and recurrent infections, particularly otitis media, are common in this syndrome. Psychomotor development is uniformly delayed, however the majority of individuals (over 70%) eventually learn to walk with support. Language development and ability for self-care are also very impaired. This study provides new information on the clinical spectrum and natural history of Emanuel syndrome for families and physicians caring for these individuals.
Emanuel syndrome; Translocation; congenital anomalies; der22
Dysequilibrium syndrome (DES) is a genetically heterogeneous condition that combines autosomal recessive, non-progressive cerebellar ataxia with mental retardation. Here we report the first patient heterozygous for two novel mutations in VLDLR. An 18-month old girl presented with significant hypotonia, global developmental delay, and truncal and peripheral ataxia. MR imaging of the brain demonstrated hypoplasia of the inferior cerebellar vermis and hemispheres, small pons, and a simplified cortical sulcation pattern. Sequence analysis of the VLDLR gene identified a nonsense and missense mutation. Six mutations in VLDLR have now been identified in five families with a phenotype characterized by moderate-to-profound mental retardation, delayed ambulation, truncal and peripheral ataxia and occasional seizures. Neuroanatomically, the loss-of-function effect of the different mutations is indistinguishable. VLDLR-associated cerebellar hypoplasia is emerging as a panethnic, clinically and molecularly well-defined genetic syndrome.
VLDLR; Cerebellar hypoplasia; Dysequilibrium syndrome
To explore parental perceptions and experiences regarding the return of genomic incidental research findings in children with rare diseases.
Parents of children affected by various rare diseases were invited to participate in focus groups or individual telephone interviews in Montreal and Ottawa. Fifteen participants were interviewed and transcriptions were analysed using thematic analysis.
Four emergent themes underscored parental enthusiasm for receiving incidental findings concerning their child's health: (1) right to information; (2) perceived benefits and risks; (3) communication practicalities: who, when, and how; and (4) service needs to promote the communication of incidental findings. Parents believed they should be made aware of all results pertaining to their child's health status, and that they are responsible for transmitting this information to their child, irrespective of disease severity. Despite potential negative consequences, respondents generally perceived a favourable risk-benefit ratio in receiving all incidental findings.
Understanding how parents assess the risks and benefits of returning incidental findings is essential to genomic research applications in paediatric medicine. The authors believe the study findings will contribute to establishing future best practices, although further research is needed to evaluate the impact of parental decisions on themselves and their child.
There is tremendous potential for genome sequencing to improve clinical diagnosis and care once it becomes routinely accessible, but this will require formalizing research methods into clinical best practices in the areas of sequence data generation, analysis, interpretation and reporting. The CLARITY Challenge was designed to spur convergence in methods for diagnosing genetic disease starting from clinical case history and genome sequencing data. DNA samples were obtained from three families with heritable genetic disorders and genomic sequence data were donated by sequencing platform vendors. The challenge was to analyze and interpret these data with the goals of identifying disease-causing variants and reporting the findings in a clinically useful format. Participating contestant groups were solicited broadly, and an independent panel of judges evaluated their performance.
A total of 30 international groups were engaged. The entries reveal a general convergence of practices on most elements of the analysis and interpretation process. However, even given this commonality of approach, only two groups identified the consensus candidate variants in all disease cases, demonstrating a need for consistent fine-tuning of the generally accepted methods. There was greater diversity of the final clinical report content and in the patient consenting process, demonstrating that these areas require additional exploration and standardization.
The CLARITY Challenge provides a comprehensive assessment of current practices for using genome sequencing to diagnose and report genetic diseases. There is remarkable convergence in bioinformatic techniques, but medical interpretation and reporting are areas that require further development by many groups.