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1.  Infantile hydrocephalus: a review of epidemiology, classification and causes 
Hydrocephalus is a common but complex condition caused by physical or functional obstruction of CSF flow that leads to progressive ventricular dilatation. Though hydrocephalus was recently estimated to affect 1.1 in 1,000 infants, there have been few systematic assessments of the causes of hydrocephalus in this age group, which makes it a challenging condition to approach as a scientist or as a clinician. Here, we review contemporary literature on the epidemiology, classification and pathogenesis of infantile hydrocephalus. We describe the major environmental and genetic causes of hydrocephalus, with the goal of providing a framework to assess infants with hydrocephalus and guide future research.
PMCID: PMC4334358  PMID: 24932902
Hydrocephalus; Aqueductal stenosis; L1CAM; Intraventricular hemorrhage; Genetics
2.  Epilepsy and outcome in FOXG1-related disorders 
Epilepsia  2014;55(8):1292-1300.
FOXG1-related disorders are associated with severe intellectual disability, absent speech with autistic features, and epilepsy. Children with deletions or intragenic mutations of FOXG1 also have postnatal microcephaly, morphologic abnormalities of the corpus callosum, and choreiform movements. Duplications of 14q12 often present with infantile spasms, and have subsequent intellectual disability with autistic features. Long term epilepsy outcome and response to treatment has not been studied systematically in a well-described cohort of subjects with FOXG1-related disorders. We report on the epilepsy features and developmental outcome of 23 new subjects with deletions or intragenic mutations of FOXG1, and 7 subjects with duplications.
Subjects had either chromosomal microarray or FOXG1 gene sequencing performed as part of routine clinical care. Development and epilepsy follow-up data were collected from medical records from treating neurologists and through telephone parental interviews using standardized questionnaires.
Epilepsy was diagnosed in 87% of the subjects with FOXG1-related disorders. The mean age of epilepsy diagnosis in FOXG1 duplications was significantly younger than those with deletions/intragenic mutations (p=0.0002). All of the duplication FOXG1 children with infantile spasms responded to hormonal therapy and only one required long-term anti-epileptic therapy. In contrast, more children with deletions/intragenic mutations required anti-epileptic drugs on follow-up (p<0.0005). All subjects with FOXG1-related disorders had neurodevelopmental disabilities after 3 years of age, regardless of the epilepsy type or intractability of seizures. All had impaired verbal language and social contact, and three duplication subjects were formally diagnosed with autism. Subjects with deletion/intragenic mutations however had significantly worse ambulation (p=0.04) and functional hand use (p<0.0005).
Epilepsy and developmental outcome characteristics allow clinicians to distinguish among the FOXG1-related disorders. Further genotype-phenotype studies of FOXG1 may help to elucidate why children develop different forms of developmental epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC4265461  PMID: 24836831
FOXG1; 14q12; infantile spasms; epilepsy; developmental outcome
3.  PIK3CA-Related Overgrowth Spectrum (PROS): Diagnostic and Testing Eligibility Criteria, Differential Diagnosis, and Evaluation 
Somatic activating mutations in the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/AKT/mTOR pathway underlie heterogeneous segmental overgrowth phenotypes. Because of the extreme differences among patients, we sought to characterize the phenotypic spectrum associated with different genotypes and mutation burdens, including a better understanding of associated complications and natural history. Historically, the clinical diagnoses in patients with PIK3CA activating mutations have included Fibroadipose hyperplasia or Overgrowth (FAO), Hemihyperplasia Multiple Lipomatosis (HHML), Congenital Lipomatous Overgrowth, Vascular Malformations, Epidermal Nevi, Scoliosis/Skeletal and Spinal (CLOVES) syndrome, macrodactyly, Fibroadipose Infiltrating Lipomatosis, and the related megalencephaly syndromes, Megalencephaly-Capillary Malformation (MCAP or M-CM) and Dysplastic Megalencephaly (DMEG). A workshop was convened at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to discuss and develop a consensus document regarding diagnosis and treatment of patients with PIK3CA-associated somatic overgrowth disorders. Participants in the workshop included a group of researchers from several institutions who have been studying these disorders and have published their findings, as well as representatives from patient-advocacy and support groups. The umbrella term of “PIK3CA-Related Overgrowth Spectrum (PROS)” was agreed upon to encompass both the known and emerging clinical entities associated with somatic PIK3CA mutations including, macrodactyly, FAO, HHML, CLOVES, and related megalencephaly conditions. Key clinical diagnostic features and criteria for testing were proposed, and testing approaches summarized. Preliminary recommendations for a uniform approach to assessment of overgrowth and molecular diagnostic testing were determined. Future areas to address include the surgical management of overgrowth tissue and vascular anomalies, the optimal approach to thrombosis risk, and the testing of potential pharmacologic therapies.
PMCID: PMC4480633  PMID: 25557259
Somatic mosaicism; PIK3CA gene; fibroadipose overgrowth; segmental overgrowth; macrodactyly; CLOVES syndrome; PIK3CA-Related Overgrowth Spectrum (PROS)
4.  The Developmental Brain Disorders Database (DBDB): A Curated Neurogenetics Knowledge Base With Clinical and Research Applications 
The number of single genes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders has increased dramatically over the past decade. The identification of causative genes for these disorders is important to clinical outcome as it allows for accurate assessment of prognosis, genetic counseling, delineation of natural history, inclusion in clinical trials, and in some cases determines therapy. Clinicians face the challenge of correctly identifying neurodevelopmental phenotypes, recognizing syndromes, and prioritizing the best candidate genes for testing. However, there is no central repository of definitions for many phenotypes, leading to errors of diagnosis. Additionally, there is no system of levels of evidence linking genes to phenotypes, making it difficult for clinicians to know which genes are most strongly associated with a given condition. We have developed the Developmental Brain Disorders Database (DBDB:, a publicly available, online-curated repository of genes, phenotypes, and syndromes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. DBDB contains the first referenced ontology of developmental brain phenotypes, and uses a novel system of levels of evidence for gene-phenotype associations. It is intended to assist clinicians in arriving at the correct diagnosis, select the most appropriate genetic test for that phenotype, and improve the care of patients with developmental brain disorders. For researchers interested in the discovery of novel genes for developmental brain disorders, DBDB provides a well-curated source of important genes against which research sequencing results can be compared. Finally, DBDB allows novel observations about the landscape of the neurogenetics knowledge base.
PMCID: PMC4279915  PMID: 24700709
developmental brain disorders; database; bioinformatics; levels of evidence
5.  Functional genome-wide siRNA screen identifies KIAA0586 as mutated in Joubert syndrome 
eLife  null;4:e06602.
Defective primary ciliogenesis or cilium stability forms the basis of human ciliopathies, including Joubert syndrome (JS), with defective cerebellar vermis development. We performed a high-content genome-wide small interfering RNA (siRNA) screen to identify genes regulating ciliogenesis as candidates for JS. We analyzed results with a supervised-learning approach, using SYSCILIA gold standard, Cildb3.0, a centriole siRNA screen and the GTex project, identifying 591 likely candidates. Intersection of this data with whole exome results from 145 individuals with unexplained JS identified six families with predominantly compound heterozygous mutations in KIAA0586. A c.428del base deletion in 0.1% of the general population was found in trans with a second mutation in an additional set of 9 of 163 unexplained JS patients. KIAA0586 is an orthologue of chick Talpid3, required for ciliogenesis and Sonic hedgehog signaling. Our results uncover a relatively high frequency cause for JS and contribute a list of candidates for future gene discoveries in ciliopathies.
eLife digest
Joubert syndrome is a rare disorder that affects the brain and causes physical, mental, and sometimes visual impairments. In individuals with this condition, two parts of the brain called the cerebellar vermis and the brainstem do not develop properly. This is thought to be due to defects in the development and maintenance of tiny hair-like structures called cilia, which are found on the surface of cells.
Currently, mutations in 25 different genes are known to be able to cause Joubert syndrome. However, these mutations only account for around 50% of the cases that have been studied, and the ‘unexplained’ cases suggest that mutations in other genes may also cause the disease.
Here, Roosing et al. used a technique called a ‘genome-wide siRNA screen’ to identify other genes regulating the formation of cilia that might also be connected with Joubert syndrome. This approach identified almost 600 candidate genes. The data from the screen were combined with gene sequence data from 145 individuals with unexplained Joubert syndrome. Roosing et al. found that individuals with Joubert syndrome from 15 different families had mutations in a gene called KIAA0586. In chickens and mice, this gene—known as Talpid3—is required for the formation of cilia.
Roosing et al.'s findings reveal a new gene that is involved in Joubert syndrome and also provides a list of candidate genes for future studies of other conditions caused by defects in the formation of cilia. The next challenges are to find out what causes the remaining unexplained cases of the disease and to understand what roles the genes identified in this study play in cilia.
PMCID: PMC4477441  PMID: 26026149
Joubert syndrome; ciliopathy; siRNA; high-content screen; KIAA0586; Talpid3; human
6.  Expansion of the TARP Syndrome Phenotype Associated with De Novo Mutations and Mosaicism 
The TARP syndrome (Talipes equinovarus, Atrial septal defect, Robin sequence, and Persistent left superior vena cava) is an X-linked disorder that was determined to be caused by mutations in RBM10 in two families, and confirmed in a subsequent case report. The first two original families were quite similar in phenotype, with uniform early lethality although a confirmatory case report showed survival into childhood. Here we report on five affecteds from three newly recognized families, including patients with atypical manifestations. None of the five patients had talipes and others also lacked cardinal TARP features of Robin sequence and atrial septal defect. All three families demonstrated de novo mutations, and one of the families had two recurrences, with demonstrable maternal mosaicism.
PMCID: PMC4443488  PMID: 24259342
7.  Autosomal recessive mutations in nuclear transport factor KPNA7 are associated with infantile spasms and cerebellar malformation 
Nuclear import receptors of the KPNA family recognize the nuclear localization signal in proteins and together with importin-β mediate translocation into the nucleus. Accordingly, KPNA family members have a highly conserved architecture with domains that contact the nuclear localization signal and bind to importin-β. Here, we describe autosomal recessive mutations in KPNA7 found by whole exome sequencing in a sibling pair with severe developmental disability, infantile spasms, subsequent intractable epilepsy consistent with Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, partial agenesis of the corpus callosum, and cerebellar vermis hypoplasia. The mutations mapped to exon 7 in KPNA7 result in two amino-acid substitutions, Pro339Ala and Glu344Gln. On the basis of the crystal structure of the paralog KPNA2 bound to a bipartite nuclear localization signal from the retinoblastoma protein, the amino-acid substitutions in the affected subjects were predicted to occur within the seventh armadillo repeat that forms one of the two nuclear localization signal-binding sites in KPNA family members. Glu344 is conserved in all seven KPNA proteins, and we found that the Glu354Gln mutation in KPNA2 is sufficient to reduce binding to the retinoblastoma nuclear localization signal to approximately one-half that of wild-type protein. Our data show that compound heterozygous mutations in KPNA7 are associated with a human neurodevelopmental disease, and provide the first example of a human disease associated with mutation of a nuclear transport receptor.
PMCID: PMC3992559  PMID: 24045845
importins; KPNA7; infantile spasms; Lennox–Gastaut syndrome; cerebellar vermis hypoplasia; whole exome sequencing
8.  Mutations in CENPE define a novel kinetochore-centromeric mechanism for Microcephalic Primordial Dwarfism 
Human genetics  2014;133(8):1023-1039.
Defects in centrosome, centrosomal-associated and spindle-associated proteins are the most frequent cause of Primary Microcephaly (PM) and Microcephalic Primordial Dwarfism (MPD) syndromes in humans. Mitotic progression and segregation defects, microtubule spindle abnormalities and impaired DNA damage-induced G2-M cell cycle checkpoint proficiency have been documented in cell lines from these patients. This suggests that impaired mitotic entry, progression and exit strongly contribute to PM and MPD. Considering the vast protein networks involved in coordinating this cell cycle stage, the list of potential target genes that could underlie novel developmental disorders is large. One such complex network, with a direct microtubule-mediated physical connection to the centrosome, is the kinetochore. This centromeric-associated structure nucleates microtubule attachments onto mitotic chromosomes. Here, we described novel compound heterozygous variants in CENPE in two siblings who exhibit a profound MPD associated with developmental delay, simplified gyri and other isolated abnormalities. CENPE encodes centromere-associated protein E (CENP-E), a core kinetochore component functioning to mediate chromosome congression initially of misaligned chromosomes and in subsequent spindle microtubule capture during mitosis. Firstly, we present a comprehensive clinical description of these patients. Then, using patient cells we document abnormalities in spindle microtubule organisation, mitotic progression and segregation, before modeling the cellular pathogenicity of these variants in an independent cell system. Our cellular analysis shows that a pathogenic defect in CENP-E, a kinetochore-core protein, largely phenocopies PCNT-mutated Microcephalic Osteodysplastic Primordial Dwarfism type II patient cells. PCNT encodes a centrosome-associated protein. These results highlight a common underlying pathomechanism. Our findings provide the first evidence for a kinetochore-based route to MPD in humans.
PMCID: PMC4415612  PMID: 24748105
Microcephaly; growth restriction; centromere; kinetochore; CENP-E; spindle microtubules
9.  AP1S2 is mutated in X-linked Dandy–Walker malformation with intellectual disability, basal ganglia disease and seizures (Pettigrew syndrome) 
MRXS5 or Pettigrew syndrome was described 20 years ago in a four generation family including nine affected individuals presenting with facial dysmorphism, intellectual disability, Dandy–Walker malformation and inconstant choreoathetosis. Four individuals had iron deposition in the basal ganglia seen on MRI or at autopsy. The mutation causing Pettigrew has remained elusive since the initial description of the condition. We report the identification of a mutation in the X-linked AP1S2 gene in the original Pettigrew syndrome family using X-chromosome exome sequencing. We report additional phenotype details for several of the affected individuals, allowing us to further refine the phenotype corresponding to this X-linked intellectual disability syndrome. The AP1S2 c.426+1 G>T mutation segregates with the disease in the Pettigrew syndrome family and results in loss of 46 amino acids in the clathrin adaptor complex small chain domain that spans most of the AP1S2 protein sequence. The mutation reported here in AP1S2 is the first mutation that is not predicted to cause a premature termination of the coding sequence or absence of the AP1S2 protein. Although most of the families affected by a mutation in AP1S2 were initially described as having different disorders assigned to at least three different OMIM numbers (MIM 300629, 300630 and 304340), our analysis of the phenotype shows that they are all the same syndrome with recognition complicated by highly variable expressivity that is seen within as well as between families and is probably not explained by differences in mutation severity.
PMCID: PMC3925263  PMID: 23756445
AP1S2; brain pathology; cerebral calcifications; Dandy–Walker malformation; intellectual disability; X-linked
10.  Mutation of FOXC1 and PITX2 induces cerebral small-vessel disease 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(11):4877-4881.
Patients with cerebral small-vessel disease (CSVD) exhibit perturbed end-artery function and have an increased risk for stroke and age-related cognitive decline. Here, we used targeted genome-wide association (GWA) analysis and defined a CSVD locus adjacent to the forkhead transcription factor FOXC1. Moreover, we determined that the linked SNPs influence FOXC1 transcript levels and demonstrated that patients as young as 1 year of age with altered FOXC1 function exhibit CSVD. MRI analysis of patients with missense and nonsense mutations as well as FOXC1-encompassing segmental duplication and deletion revealed white matter hyperintensities, dilated perivascular spaces, and lacunar infarction. In a zebrafish model, overexpression or morpholino-induced suppression of foxc1 induced cerebral hemorrhage. Inhibition of foxc1 perturbed platelet-derived growth factor (Pdgf) signaling, impairing neural crest migration and the recruitment of mural cells, which are essential for vascular stability. GWA analysis also linked the FOXC1-interacting transcription factor PITX2 to CSVD, and both patients with PITX2 mutations and murine Pitx2–/– mutants displayed brain vascular phenotypes. Together, these results extend the genetic etiology of stroke and demonstrate an increasing developmental basis for human cerebrovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC4347243  PMID: 25250569
13.  Expanding the SHOC2 Mutation Associated Phenotype of Noonan Syndrome with Loose Anagen Hair: Structural Brain Anomalies and Myelofibrosis 
Noonan syndrome is a heterogenous rasopathy typically presenting with short stature, characteristic facial features, cardiac abnormalities including pulmonic valve stenosis, ASD and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), cryptorchidism, ectodermal abnormalities and learning differences. The phenotype is variable, and limited genotype phenotype correlation exists with SOS1 mutations often associated with normal cognition and stature, RAF1 mutations entailing a high HCM risk, and certain PTPN11 mutations predisposing to juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. The recently identified SHOC2 mutation (p.Ser2Gly) causes Noonan syndrome with loose anagen hair. We report five patients with this mutation. All had skin hyperpigmentation, sparse light colored hair, increased fine wrinkles, ligamentous laxity, developmental delay and 4/4 had a structural cardiac anomaly. Hypotonia and macrocephaly occurred in 4/5 (80%); 3/5 (60%) had polyhydramnios, increased birth weight or required use of a feeding tube. Distinctive brain abnormalities included relative megalencephaly and enlarged subarachnoid spaces suggestive of benign external hydrocephalus, and a relatively small posterior fossa as indicated by a vertical tentorium. The combination of a large brain with a small posterior fossa likely resulted in the high rate of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (3/4) (75%). Periventricular nodular heterotopia was seen in one patient with a thick and dysplastic corpus callosum. We report on the first hematologic neoplasm, myelofibrosis, in a 2-year-old patient with SHOC2 mutation. Myelofibrosis is exceedingly rare in children and young adults. The absence of a somatic JAK2 mutation, seen in the majority of patients with myelofibrosis, is noteworthy as it suggests that germline or somatic SHOC2 mutations are causally involved in myelofibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3787995  PMID: 23918763
Chiari 1 malformation; Heterotopia; Rasopathy; Noonan syndrome with loose anagen hair; SHOC2; malignancy; myelofibrosis
14.  Phenotypic Analysis of Individuals With Costello Syndrome due to HRAS p.G13C 
Costello syndrome is characterized by severe failure-to-thrive, short stature, cardiac abnormalities (heart defects, tachyarrhythmia, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)), distinctive facial features, a predisposition to papillomata and malignant tumors, postnatal cerebellar overgrowth resulting in Chiari 1 malformation, and cognitive disabilities. De novo germline mutations in the proto-oncogene HRAS cause Costello syndrome. Most mutations affect the glycine residues in position 12 or 13, and more than 80% of patients share p.G12S. To test the hypothesis that subtle genotype–phenotype differences exist, we report the first cohortcomparison between 12 Costello syndrome individuals with p.G13C and individuals with p.G12S. The individuals with p.G13C had many typical findings including polyhydramnios, failure-to-thrive, HCM, macrocephaly with posterior fossa crowding, and developmental delay. Subjectively, their facial features were less coarse. Statistically significant differences included the absence of multifocal atrial tachycardia (P-value =0.033), ulnar deviation of the wrist (P <0.001) and papillomata (P =0.003), and fewer neurosurgical procedures (P =0.024). Fewer individuals with p.G13C had short stature (height below −2 SD) without use of growth hormone (P <0.001). The noteworthy absence of malignant tumors did not reach statistical significance. Novel ectodermal findings were noted in individuals with p.G13C, including loose anagen hair resulting in easily pluckable hair with a matted appearance, different from the tight curls typical for most Costello syndrome individuals. Unusually long eye lashes requiring trimming are a novel finding we termed dolichocilia. These distinctive ectodermal findings suggest a cell type specific effect of this particular mutation. Additional patients are needed to validate these findings.
PMCID: PMC4166651  PMID: 21438134
Costello syndrome; genotype–phenotype correlation; loose anagen hair; rasopathy
15.  Mutations in extracellular matrix genes NID1 and LAMC1 cause autosomal dominant Dandy-Walker malformation and occipital cephaloceles 
Human mutation  2013;34(8):1075-1079.
We performed whole-exome sequencing of a family with autosomal dominant Dandy-Walker malformation and occipital cephaloceles (ADDWOC) and detected a mutation in the extracellular matrix protein encoding gene NID1. In a second family, protein interaction network analysis identified a mutation in LAMC1, which encodes a NID1 binding partner. Structural modeling the NID1-LAMC1 complex demonstrated that each mutation disrupts the interaction. These findings implicate the extracellular matrix in the pathogenesis of Dandy-Walker spectrum disorders.
PMCID: PMC3714376  PMID: 23674478
ADDWOC; Dandy-Walker; NID1; LAMC1; Extracellular Matrix
16.  Deletion 16p13.11 uncovers NDE1 mutations on the non-deleted homolog and extends the spectrum of severe microcephaly to include fetal brain disruption 
Deletions of 16p13.11 have been associated with a variety of phenotypes, and have been also found in normal individuals. We report on two unrelated patients with severe microcephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum, scalp rugae, and a fetal brain disruption-like phenotype with inherited deletions of 16p13.11. The first patient was subsequently found on whole exome sequencing to have a nonsense mutation (p.R44X) in NDE1 with the non-deleted chromosome 16 homolog. We then undertook copy number studies of 16p13.11 and sequencing of NDE1 in nine additional patients with a similar severe microcephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum, and fetal brain disruption-like phenotype. The second patient was found to have an inherited deletion of the entire NDE1 gene combined with a frameshift mutation (c.1020-1021het_delGA) in the non-deleted NDE1. These observations broaden the phenotype seen in NDE1-related microcephaly to include fetal brain disruption. These data also represent the second described syndrome, after Bernard-Soulier syndrome, where an autosomal recessive condition combines an inherited segmental duplication mediated deletion with a mutation in a gene within the non-deleted homolog. Finally, we performed informatics analysis of the 16p13.11 gene content, and found that there are many genes with in the region with evidence for role(s) in brain development. Sequencing of other candidate genes in this region in patients with deletion 16p13.11 and more severe neurophenotypes may be warranted.
PMCID: PMC3689850  PMID: 23704059
Deletion 16p13.11; NDE1; whole exome sequencing; fetal brain disruption; microcephaly; agenesis of the corpus callosum
17.  CDKL5 and ARX mutations in males with early-onset epilepsy 
Pediatric neurology  2013;48(5):367-377.
Mutations in CDKL5 and ARX are known causes of early-onset epilepsy and severe developmental delay in males and females. While numerous males with ARX mutations associated with various phenotypes have been reported in the literature, the majority of CDKL5 mutations have been identified in females with a phenotype characterized by early-onset epilepsy, severe global developmental delay, absent speech, and stereotypic hand movements. To date, only ten males with CDKL5 mutations have been reported. Our retrospective study reports on the clinical, neuroimaging and molecular findings of 18 males with early-onset epilepsy caused by either CDKL5 or ARX mutations. The 18 patients include eight new males with CDKL5 mutations and ten with ARX mutations identified through sequence analysis of 266 and 346 males, respectively, at our molecular diagnostic laboratory. Our large data set therefore expands on the number of reported males with CDKL5 mutations and highlights that aberrations of CDKL5 and ARX combined are an important consideration in the genetic forms of early-onset epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC3742321  PMID: 23583054
18.  MEF2C Haploinsufficiency features consistent hyperkinesis, variable epilepsy, and has a role in dorsal and ventral neuronal developmental pathways 
Neurogenetics  2013;14(2):99-111.
MEF2C haploinsufficiency syndrome is an emerging neurodevelopmental disorder associated with intellectual disability, autistic features, epilepsy, and abnormal movements. We report 16 new patients with MEF2C haploinsufficiency, including the oldest reported patient with MEF2C deletion at 5q14.3. We detail the neurobehavioral phenotype, epilepsy, and abnormal movements, and compare our subjects with those previously reported in the literature. We also investigate Mef2c expression in the developing mouse forebrain. A spectrum of neurofunctional deficits emerges, with hyperkinesis a consistent finding. Epilepsy varied from absent to severe, and included intractable myoclonic seizures and infantile spasms. Subjects with partial MEF2C deletion were statistically less likely to have epilepsy. Finally, we confirm that Mef2c is present both in dorsal primary neuroblasts and ventral gamma-aminobutyric acid(GABA)ergic interneurons in the forebrain of the developing mouse. Given interactions with several key neurodevelopmental genes such as ARX, FMR1, MECP2, and TBR1, it appears that MEF2C plays a role in several developmental stages of both dorsal and ventral neuronal cell types.
PMCID: PMC3773516  PMID: 23389741
MEF2C haploinsufficiency; Intellectual disability; Autism; Infant-onset myoclonic epilepsy; Infantile spasms; Hyperkinesis; Deletion 5q14.3
19.  Mutations in STAMBP, encoding a deubiquitinating enzyme, cause Microcephaly-Capillary Malformation syndrome 
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):556-562.
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.
PMCID: PMC4000253  PMID: 23542699 CAMSID: cams4064
20.  Cerebellar and posterior fossa malformations in patients with autism-associated chromosome 22q13 terminal deletion 
The 22q13.3 deletion causes a neurodevelopmental syndrome, also known as Phelan-McDermid syndrome (MIM #606232), characterized by developmental delay and severe delay or absence of expressive speech. Two patients with hemizygous chromosome 22q13.3 telomeric deletion were referred to us when brain-imaging studies revealed cerebellar vermis hypoplasia (CBVH). To determine whether developmental abnormalities of the cerebellum are a consistent feature of the 22q13.3 deletion syndrome, we examined brain-imaging studies for 10 unrelated subjects with 22q13 terminal deletion. In 7 cases where the availability of DNA and array technology allowed, we mapped deletion boundaries using comparative intensity analysis with single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) microarrays. Approximate deletion boundaries for 3 additional cases were derived from clinical or published molecular data. We also examined brain-imaging studies for a patient with an intragenic SHANK3 mutation. We report the first brain-imaging data showing that some patients with 22q13 deletions have severe posterior CBVH, and one individual with a SHANK3 mutation has a normal cerebellum. This genotype-phenotype study suggests that the 22q13 deletion phenotype includes abnormal posterior fossa structures that are unlikely to be attributed to SHANK3 disruption. Other genes in the region, including PLXNB2 and MAPK8IP2, display brain expression patterns and mouse mutant phenotypes critical for proper cerebellar development. Future studies of these genes may elucidate their relationship to 22q13.3 deletion phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3733662  PMID: 23225497
cerebellum; chromosome; deletion; SHANK3
21.  Both Rare and De Novo Copy Number Variants Are Prevalent in Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum but Not in Cerebellar Hypoplasia or Polymicrogyria 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003823.
Agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC), cerebellar hypoplasia (CBLH), and polymicrogyria (PMG) are severe congenital brain malformations with largely undiscovered causes. We conducted a large-scale chromosomal copy number variation (CNV) discovery effort in 255 ACC, 220 CBLH, and 147 PMG patients, and 2,349 controls. Compared to controls, significantly more ACC, but unexpectedly not CBLH or PMG patients, had rare genic CNVs over one megabase (p = 1.48×10−3; odds ratio [OR] = 3.19; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.89–5.39). Rare genic CNVs were those that impacted at least one gene in less than 1% of the combined population of patients and controls. Compared to controls, significantly more ACC but not CBLH or PMG patients had rare CNVs impacting over 20 genes (p = 0.01; OR = 2.95; 95% CI = 1.69–5.18). Independent qPCR confirmation showed that 9.4% of ACC patients had de novo CNVs. These, in comparison to inherited CNVs, preferentially overlapped de novo CNVs previously observed in patients with autism spectrum disorders (p = 3.06×10−4; OR = 7.55; 95% CI = 2.40–23.72). Interestingly, numerous reports have shown a reduced corpus callosum area in autistic patients, and diminished social and executive function in many ACC patients. We also confirmed and refined previously known CNVs, including significantly narrowing the 8p23.1-p11.1 duplication present in 2% of our current ACC cohort. We found six novel CNVs, each in a single patient, that are likely deleterious: deletions of 1p31.3-p31.1, 1q31.2-q31.3, 5q23.1, and 15q11.2-q13.1; and duplications of 2q11.2-q13 and 11p14.3-p14.2. One ACC patient with microcephaly had a paternally inherited deletion of 16p13.11 that included NDE1. Exome sequencing identified a recessive maternally inherited nonsense mutation in the non-deleted allele of NDE1, revealing the complexity of ACC genetics. This is the first systematic study of CNVs in congenital brain malformations, and shows a much higher prevalence of large gene-rich CNVs in ACC than in CBLH and PMG.
Author Summary
Here, we systematically test the genetic etiology of three common developmental brain malformations: agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC), cerebellar hypoplasia (CBLH), and polymicrogyria (PMG) by copy number variation (CNV) analysis in a large cohort of brain malformation patients and controls. We found significantly more ACC but not CBLH or PMG patients with rare genic CNVs over one megabase and with rare CNVs impacting over 20 genes when compared with controls. De novo CNVs were found in 9.4% of ACC patients, and interestingly many such CNVs overlapped with de novo CNVs observed in autism. Notably, numerous studies have demonstrated a reduction in the corpus callosum area in autistic brains. Our analysis also refined previously known large CNVs that cause these malformations, and identified six novel CNVs that are likely deleterious. One ACC patient had inherited a deletion from the father which, through exome sequencing, was found to uncover a recessive nonsense mutation in NDE1 on the non-deleted allele inherited from the mother. Our study is the first to systematically evaluate the burden of rare genic CNVs in congenital brain malformations and shows that large gene-rich CNVs are more common in ACC than in CBLH and PMG.
PMCID: PMC3789824  PMID: 24098143
22.  Beyond Gómez-López-Hernández Syndrome: Recurring Phenotypic Themes in Rhombencephalosynapsis 
Rhombencephalosynapsis (RES) is an uncommon cerebellar malformation characterized by fusion of the hemispheres without an intervening vermis. Frequently described in association with Gómez-López-Hernández syndrome, RES also occurs in conjunction with VACTERL features and with holoprosencephaly (HPE). We sought to determine the full phenotypic spectrum of RES in a large cohort of patients. Information was obtained through database review, patient questionnaire, radiographic and morphologic assessment, and statistical analysis. We assessed 53 patients. 33 had alopecia, 3 had trigeminal anesthesia, 14 had VACTERL features and 2 had HPE with aventriculy. Specific craniofacial features were seen throughout the cohort, but were more common in patients with alopecia. We noted substantial overlap between groups. We conclude that although some distinct subgroups can be delineated, the overlapping features seen in our cohort suggest an underlying spectrum of RES-associated malformations rather than a collection of discrete syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3448816  PMID: 22965664
Rhombencephalosynapsis; Gómez-López-Hernández syndrome; Congenital Triangular Alopecia; Holoprosencephaly; Aventriculy; VACTERL; Developmental Field Defect
23.  Peritrigonal and temporo-occipital heterotopia with corpus callosum and cerebellar dysgenesis 
Neurology  2012;79(12):1244-1251.
To describe a homogeneous subtype of periventricular nodular heterotopia (PNH) as part of a newly defined malformation complex.
Observational study including review of brain MRI and clinical findings of a cohort of 50 patients with PNH in the temporo-occipital horns and trigones, mutation analysis of the FLNA gene, and anatomopathologic study of a fetal brain.
There were 28 females and 22 males. All were sporadic with the exception of an affected mother and son. Epilepsy occurred in 62%, cerebellar signs in 56%, cognitive impairment in 56%, and autism in 12%. Seventy percent were referred within the 3rd year of life. Imaging revealed a normal cerebral cortex in 76% and abnormal cortical folding in 24%. In all patients the hippocampi were under-rotated and in 10% they merged with the heterotopia. Cerebellar dysgenesis was observed in 84% and a hypoplastic corpus callosum in 60%. There was no gender bias or uneven gender distribution of clinical and anatomic severity. No mutations of FLNA occurred in 33 individuals examined. Heterotopia in the fetal brain revealed cytoarchitectonic characteristics similar to those associated with FLNA mutations; cortical pathology was not typical of polymicrogyria. Cerebellar involvement was more severe and the hippocampi appeared simple and under-rotated.
This series delineates a malformation complex in which PNH in the trigones and occipito-temporal horns is associated with hippocampal, corpus callosum, and cerebellar dysgenesis. This subtype of PNH is distinct from classic PNH caused by FLNA mutations.
PMCID: PMC3440449  PMID: 22914838
24.  Neuropathology of brain and spinal malformations in a case of monosomy 1p36 
Monosomy 1p36 is the most common subtelomeric chromosomal deletion linked to mental retardation and seizures. Neuroimaging studies suggest that monosomy 1p36 is associated with brain malformations including polymicrogyria and nodular heterotopia, but the histopathology of these lesions is unknown. Here we present postmortem neuropathological findings from a 10 year-old girl with monosomy 1p36, who died of respiratory complications. The findings included micrencephaly, periventricular nodular heterotopia in occipitotemporal lobes, cortical dysgenesis resembling polymicrogyria in dorsolateral frontal lobes, hippocampal malrotation, callosal hypoplasia, superiorly rotated cerebellum with small vermis, and lumbosacral hydromyelia. The abnormal cortex exhibited “festooned” (undulating) supragranular layers, but no significant fusion of the molecular layer. Deletion mapping demonstrated single copy loss of a contiguous 1p36 terminal region encompassing many important neurodevelopmental genes, among them four HES genes implicated in regulating neural stem cell differentiation, and TP73, a monoallelically expressed gene. Our results suggest that brain and spinal malformations in monosomy 1p36 may be more extensive than previously recognized, and may depend on the parental origin of deleted genes. More broadly, our results suggest that specific genetic disorders may cause distinct forms of cortical dysgenesis.
PMCID: PMC3893467  PMID: 24252393
Periventricular nodular heterotopia; Hippocampal malrotation; Cortical dysgenesis; Malformations of cortical development; Hydromyelia; Mental retardation; Epilepsy
25.  Diencephalic–mesencephalic junction dysplasia: a novel recessive brain malformation 
Brain  2012;135(8):2416-2427.
We describe six cases from three unrelated consanguineous Egyptian families with a novel characteristic brain malformation at the level of the diencephalic–mesencephalic junction. Brain magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a dysplasia of the diencephalic–mesencephalic junction with a characteristic ‘butterfly’-like contour of the midbrain on axial sections. Additional imaging features included variable degrees of supratentorial ventricular dilatation and hypoplasia to complete agenesis of the corpus callosum. Diffusion tensor imaging showed diffuse hypomyelination and lack of an identifiable corticospinal tract. All patients displayed severe cognitive impairment, post-natal progressive microcephaly, axial hypotonia, spastic quadriparesis and seizures. Autistic features were noted in older cases. Talipes equinovarus, non-obstructive cardiomyopathy and persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous were additional findings in two families. One of the patients required shunting for hydrocephalus; however, this yielded no change in ventricular size suggestive of dysplasia rather than obstruction. We propose the term ‘diencephalic–mesencephalic junction dysplasia’ to characterize this autosomal recessive malformation.
PMCID: PMC3407423  PMID: 22822038
diencephalon; mesencephalon; mental retardation; brainstem malformation; brain wiring

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