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1.  Germline BRAF mutations in Noonan, LEOPARD and cardiofaciocutaneous syndromes: molecular diversity and associated phenotypic spectrum 
Human mutation  2009;30(4):695-702.
Noonan, LEOPARD and cardiofaciocutaneous syndromes (NS, LS and CFCS) are developmental disorders with overlapping features including distinctive facial dysmorphia, reduced growth, cardiac defects, skeletal and ectodermal anomalies, and variable cognitive deficits. Dysregulated RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal traffic has been established to represent the molecular pathogenic cause underlying these conditions. To investigate the phenotypic spectrum and molecular diversity of germline mutations affecting BRAF, which encodes a serine/threonine kinase functioning as a RAS effector frequently mutated in CFCS, subjects with a diagnosis of NS (N= 270), LS (N= 6) and CFCS (N= 33), and no mutation in PTPN11, SOS1, KRAS, RAF1, MEK1 or MEK2, were screened for the entire coding sequence of the gene. Besides the expected high prevalence of mutations observed among CFCS patients (52%), a de novo heterozygous missense change was identified in one subject with LS (17%) and 5 individuals with NS (1.9%). Mutations mapped to multiple protein domains and largely did not overlap with cancer-associated defects. NS-causing mutations had not been documented in CFCS, suggesting that the phenotypes arising from germline BRAF defects might be allele specific. Selected mutant BRAF proteins promoted variable gain of function of the kinase, but appeared less activating compared than the recurrent cancer-associated p.Val600Glu mutant. Our findings provide evidence for a wide phenotypic diversity associated with mutations affecting BRAF, and occurrence of a clinical continuum associated with these molecular lesions.
doi:10.1002/humu.20955
PMCID: PMC4028130  PMID: 19206169
Noonan syndrome; LEOPARD syndrome; cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome; BRAF; CFCS; mutation analysis; genotype-phenotype correlation; functional studies
2.  COL4A2 mutation associated with familial porencephaly and small-vessel disease 
Familial porencephaly, leukoencephalopathy and small-vessel disease belong to the spectrum of disorders ascribed to dominant mutations in the gene encoding for type IV collagen alpha-1 (COL4A1). Mice harbouring mutations in either Col4a1 or Col4a2 suffer from porencephaly, hydrocephalus, cerebral and ocular bleeding and developmental defects. We observed porencephaly and white matter lesions in members from two families that lack COL4A1 mutations. We hypothesized that COL4A2 mutations confer genetic predisposition to porencephaly, therefore we sequenced COL4A2 in the family members and characterized clinical, neuroradiological and biochemical phenotypes. Genomic sequencing of COL4A2 identified the heterozygous missense G1389R in exon 44 in one family and the c.3206delC change in exon 34 leading to frame shift and premature stop, in the second family. Fragmentation and duplication of epidermal basement membranes were observed by electron microscopy in a c.3206delC patient skin biopsy, consistent with abnormal collagen IV network. Collagen chain accumulation and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress have been proposed as cellular mechanism in COL4A1 mutations. In COL4A2 3206delC fibroblasts we detected increased rates of apoptosis and no signs of ER stress. Mutation phenotypes varied, including porencephaly, white matter lesions, cerebellar and optic nerve hypoplasia and unruptured carotid aneurysm. In the second family however, we found evidence for additional factors contributing to the phenotype. We conclude that dominant COL4A2 mutations are a novel major risk factor for familial cerebrovascular disease, including porencephaly and small-vessel disease with reduced penetrance and variable phenotype, which might also be modified by other contributing factors.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.20
PMCID: PMC3400734  PMID: 22333902
COL4A2; collagen-IV; porencephaly; small-vessel disease
3.  De novo mutations in the actin genes ACTB and ACTG1 cause Baraitser-Winter syndrome 
Nature genetics  2012;44(4):440-S2.
Brain malformations are individually rare but collectively common causes of developmental disabilities1–3. Many forms occur sporadically and have reduced reproductive fitness, pointing towards a causative role for de novo mutations4,5. Here we report our studies of Baraitser-Winter syndrome, a well-defined syndrome characterized by distinct craniofacial features, ocular colobomata and a neuronal migration defect6,7. By using whole-exome sequencing in three proband-parent trios, we identified de novo missense changes in the cytoplasmic actin genes ACTB and ACTG1 in one and two probands, respectively. Sequencing of both genes in fifteen additional patients revealed disease-causing mutations in all probands, including two recurrent de novo mutations (ACTB p.Arg196His and ACTG1 p.Ser155Phe). Our results confirm that trio-based exome sequencing is a powerful approach to discover the genes causing sporadic developmental disorders, emphasize the overlapping roles of cytoplasmic actins in development, and suggest that Baraitser-Winter syndrome is the predominant phenotype associated with mutations of these two genes.
doi:10.1038/ng.1091
PMCID: PMC3677859  PMID: 22366783
4.  De novo germline and postzygotic mutations in AKT3, PIK3R2 and PIK3CA cause a spectrum of related megalencephaly syndromes 
Nature genetics  2012;44(8):934-940.
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.
doi:10.1038/ng.2331
PMCID: PMC3408813  PMID: 22729224
5.  Mutations in ISPD cause Walker-Warburg syndrome and defective glycosylation of α-dystroglycan 
Nature genetics  2012;44(5):581-585.
Walker-Warburg syndrome (WWS) is an autosomal recessive multisystem disorder characterized by complex eye and brain abnormalities with congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) and aberrant α-dystroglycan (αDG) glycosylation. Here, we report mutations in the isoprenoid synthase domain-containing (ISPD) gene as the second most common cause of WWS. Bacterial IspD is a nucleotidyl transferase belonging to a large glycosyltransferase family, but its role in chordates has been obscure to date because this phylum does not have the corresponding non-mevalonate isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway. Knockdown of ispd in zebrafish recapitulates the human WWS phenotype with hydrocephalus, reduced eye size, muscle degeneration and hypoglycosylated αDG. These results implicate a role for ISPD in αDG glycosylation to maintain sarcolemma integrity in vertebrates.
doi:10.1038/ng.2253
PMCID: PMC3378661  PMID: 22522421
6.  The clinical spectrum of complete FBN1 allele deletions 
The most common mutations found in FBN1 are missense mutations (56%), mainly substituting or creating a cysteine in a cbEGF domain. Other mutations are frameshift, splice and nonsense mutations. There are only a few reports of patients with marfanoid features and a molecularly proven complete deletion of a FBN1 allele. We describe the clinical features of 10 patients with a complete FBN1 gene deletion. Seven patients fulfilled the Ghent criteria for Marfan syndrome (MFS). The other three patients were examined at a young age and did not (yet) present the full clinical picture of MFS yet. Ectopia lentis was present in at least two patients. Aortic root dilatation was present in 6 of the 10 patients. In three patients, the aortic root diameter was on the 95th percentile and in one patient, the diameter of the aortic root was normal, the cross-section, however, had a cloverleaf appearance. Two patients underwent aortic root surgery at a relatively young age (27 and 34 years). Mitral valve prolapse was present in 4 of the 10 patients, and billowing of the mitral valve in 1. All patients had facial and skeletal features of MFS. Two patients with a large deletion extending beyond the FBN1 gene had an extended phenotype. We conclude that complete loss of one FBN1 allele does not predict a mild phenotype, and these findings support the hypothesis that true haploinsufficiency can lead to the classical phenotype of Marfan syndrome.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.174
PMCID: PMC3061999  PMID: 21063442
Marfan syndrome; FBN1; fibrillin-1; deletion; haploinsufficiency
7.  Magnetic resonance imaging pattern recognition in hypomyelinating disorders 
Brain  2010;133(10):2971-2982.
Hypomyelination is observed in the context of a growing number of genetic disorders that share clinical characteristics. The aim of this study was to determine the possible role of magnetic resonance imaging pattern recognition in distinguishing different hypomyelinating disorders, which would facilitate the diagnostic process. Only patients with hypomyelination of known cause were included in this retrospective study. A total of 112 patients with Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease, hypomyelination with congenital cataract, hypomyelination with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and hypodontia, Pelizaeus–Merzbacher-like disease, infantile GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis, Salla disease and fucosidosis were included. The brain scans were rated using a standard scoring list; the raters were blinded to the diagnoses. Grouping of the patients was based on cluster analysis. Ten clusters of patients with similar magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities were identified. The most important discriminating items were early cerebellar atrophy, homogeneity of the white matter signal on T2-weighted images, abnormal signal intensity of the basal ganglia, signal abnormalities in the pons and additional T2 lesions in the deep white matter. Eight clusters each represented mainly a single disorder (i.e. Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease, hypomyelination with congenital cataract, hypomyelination with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and hypodontia, infantile GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis, Pelizaeus–Merzbacher-like disease and fucosidosis); only two clusters contained multiple diseases. Pelizaeus–Merzbacher-like disease was divided between two clusters and Salla disease did not cluster at all. This study shows that it is possible to separate patients with hypomyelination disorders of known cause in clusters based on magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities alone. In most cases of Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease, hypomyelination with congenital cataract, hypomyelination with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and hypodontia, Pelizaeus–Merzbacher-like disease, infantile GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis and fucosidosis, the imaging pattern gives clues for the diagnosis.
doi:10.1093/brain/awq257
PMCID: PMC3589901  PMID: 20881161
magnetic resonance imaging; leukodystrophy; hypomyelination; pattern recognition
8.  The unfolding clinical spectrum of holoprosencephaly due to mutations in SHH, ZIC2, SIX3 and TGIF genes 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2010;18(9):999-1005.
Holoprosencephaly is a severe malformation of the brain characterized by abnormal formation and separation of the developing central nervous system. The prevalence is 1:250 during early embryogenesis, the live-born prevalence is 1:16 000. The etiology of HPE is extremely heterogeneous and can be teratogenic or genetic. We screened four known HPE genes in a Dutch cohort of 86 non-syndromic HPE index cases, including 53 family members. We detected 21 mutations (24.4%), 3 in SHH, 9 in ZIC2 and 9 in SIX3. Eight mutations involved amino-acid substitutions, 7 ins/del mutations, 1 frame-shift, 3 identical poly-alanine tract expansions and 2 gene deletions. Pathogenicity of mutations was presumed based on de novo character, predicted non-functionality of mutated proteins, segregation of mutations with affected family-members or combinations of these features. Two mutations were reported previously. SNP array confirmed detected deletions; one spanning the ZIC2/ZIC5 genes (approx. 100 kb) the other a 1.45 Mb deletion including SIX2/SIX3 genes. The mutation percentage (24%) is comparable with previous reports, but we detected significantly less mutations in SHH: 3.5 vs 10.7% (P=0.043) and significantly more in SIX3: 10.5 vs 4.3% (P=0.018). For TGIF1 and ZIC2 mutation the rate was in conformity with earlier reports. About half of the mutations were de novo, one was a germ line mosaic. The familial mutations displayed extensive heterogeneity in clinical manifestation. Of seven familial index patients only two parental carriers showed minor HPE signs, five were completely asymptomatic. Therefore, each novel mutation should be considered as a risk factor for clinically manifest HPE, with the caveat of reduced clinical penetrance.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.70
PMCID: PMC2987413  PMID: 20531442
Holoprosencephaly; SHH; SIX3; ZIC2; TGIF; genotype–phenotype
9.  Unbalanced der(5)t(5;20) translocation associated with Megalencephaly, perisylvian Polymicrogyria, Polydactyly and Hydrocephalus 
The combination of megalencephaly, perisylvian polymicrogyria, polydactyly and hydrocephalus (MPPH) is a rare syndrome of unknown cause. We observed two first cousins affected by an MPPH-like phenotype with a submicroscopic chromosome 5q35 deletion as a result of an unbalanced der(5)t(5;20)(q35.2;q13.3) translocation, including the NSD1 Sotos syndrome locus. We describe the phenotype and the deletion breakpoints of the two MPPH-like patients and compare these with five unrelated MPPH and Sotos patients harboring a 5q35 microdeletion. Mapping of the breakpoints in the two cousins was performed by MLPA, FISH, high density SNP-arrays and Q-PCR for the 5q35 deletion and 20q13 duplication. The 5q35 deletion area of the two cousins almost completely overlaps with earlier described patients with an atypical Sotos microdeletion, except for the DRD1 gene. The five unrelated MPPH patients neither showed submicroscopic chromosomal aberrations nor DRD1 mutations. We reviewed the brain MRI of 10 Sotos patients and did not detect polymicrogyria in any of them. In our two cousins, the MPPH-like phenotype is probably caused by the contribution of genes on both chromosome 5q35 and 20q13. Some patients with MPPH may harbor a submicroscopic chromosomal aberration and therefore high-resolution array analysis should be part of the diagnostic workup.
doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.33408
PMCID: PMC2908594  PMID: 20503325
Megalencephaly; Polymicrogyria; Polydactyly; Hydrocephalus; microdeletion; 5q35.2; 20q13.3
10.  Long-term follow-up and treatment in nine boys with X-linked creatine transporter defect 
The creatine transporter (CRTR) defect is a recently discovered cause of X-linked intellectual disability for which treatment options have been explored. Creatine monotherapy has not proved effective, and the effect of treatment with L-arginine is still controversial. Nine boys between 8 months and 10 years old with molecularly confirmed CRTR defect were followed with repeated 1H-MRS and neuropsychological assessments during 4–6 years of combination treatment with creatine monohydrate, L-arginine, and glycine. Treatment did not lead to a significant increase in cerebral creatine content as observed with H1-MRS. After an initial improvement in locomotor and personal-social IQ subscales, no lasting clinical improvement was recorded. Additionally, we noticed an age-related decline in IQ subscales in boys affected with the CRTR defect.
doi:10.1007/s10545-011-9345-1
PMCID: PMC3249187  PMID: 21556832
11.  Combined cardiological and neurological abnormalities due to filamin A gene mutation 
Clinical Research in Cardiology  2010;100(1):45-50.
Background
Cardiac defects can be the presenting symptom in patients with mutations in the X-linked gene FLNA. Dysfunction of this gene is associated with cardiac abnormalities, especially in the left ventricular outflow tract, but can also cause a congenital malformation of the cerebral cortex. We noticed that some patients diagnosed at the neurogenetics clinic had first presented to a cardiologist, suggesting that earlier recognition may be possible if the diagnosis is suspected.
Methods and results
From the Erasmus MC cerebral malformations database 24 patients were identified with cerebral bilateral periventricular nodular heterotopia (PNH) without other cerebral cortical malformations. In six of these patients, a pathogenic mutation in FLNA was present. In five a cardiac defect was also found in the outflow tract. Four had presented to a cardiologist before the cerebral abnormalities were diagnosed.
Conclusions
The cardiological phenotype typically consists of aortic or mitral regurgitation, coarctation of the aorta or other left-sided cardiac malformations. Most patients in this category will not have a FLNA mutation, but the presence of neurological complaints, hyperlaxity of the skin or joints and/or a family history with similar cardiac or neurological problems in a possibly X-linked pattern may alert the clinician to the possibility of a FLNA mutation.
doi:10.1007/s00392-010-0206-y
PMCID: PMC3022162  PMID: 20730588
Filamin A; Outflow tract; Mitral valve; Neurology; Genetics; Aorta; Regurgitation; Nervous system; Congenital heart defects
12.  Targeted loss of Arx results in a developmental epilepsy mouse model and recapitulates the human phenotype in heterozygous females 
Brain  2009;132(6):1563-1576.
Mutations in the X-linked aristaless-related homeobox gene (ARX) have been linked to structural brain anomalies as well as multiple neurocognitive deficits. The generation of Arx-deficient mice revealed several morphological anomalies, resembling those observed in patients and an interneuron migration defect but perinatal lethality precluded analyses of later phenotypes. Interestingly, many of the neurological phenotypes observed in patients with various ARX mutations can be attributed, in part, to interneuron dysfunction. To directly test this possibility, mice carrying a floxed Arx allele were generated and crossed to Dlx5/6CRE-IRES-GFP(Dlx5/6CIG) mice, conditionally deleting Arx from ganglionic eminence derived neurons including cortical interneurons. We now report that Arx−/y;Dlx5/6CIG (male) mice exhibit a variety of seizure types beginning in early-life, including seizures that behaviourally and electroencephalographically resembles infantile spasms, and show evolution through development. Thus, this represents a new genetic model of a malignant form of paediatric epilepsy, with some characteristics resembling infantile spasms, caused by mutations in a known infantile spasms gene. Unexpectedly, approximately half of the female mice carrying a single mutant Arx allele (Arx−/+;Dlx5/6CIG) also developed seizures. We also found that a subset of human female carriers have seizures and neurocognitive deficits. In summary, we have identified a previously unrecognized patient population with neurological deficits attributed to ARX mutations that are recapitulated in our mouse model. Furthermore, we show that perturbation of interneuron subpopulations is an important mechanism underling the pathogenesis of developmental epilepsy in both hemizygous males and carrier females. Given the frequency of ARX mutations in patients with infantile spasms and related disorders, our data unveil a new model for further understanding the pathogenesis of these disorders.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp107
PMCID: PMC2685924  PMID: 19439424
Epilepsy; development; conditional knockout; genetic model; interneurons
13.  Mutations in the nuclear localization sequence of the Aristaless related homeobox; sequestration of mutant ARX with IPO13 disrupts normal subcellular distribution of the transcription factor and retards cell division 
PathoGenetics  2010;3:1.
Background
Aristaless related homeobox (ARX) is a paired-type homeobox gene. ARX function is frequently affected by naturally occurring mutations. Nonsense mutations, polyalanine tract expansions and missense mutations in ARX cause a range of intellectual disability and epilepsy phenotypes with or without additional features including hand dystonia, lissencephaly, autism or dysarthria. Severe malformation phenotypes, such as X-linked lissencephaly with ambiguous genitalia (XLAG), are frequently observed in individuals with protein truncating or missense mutations clustered in the highly conserved paired-type homeodomain.
Results
We have identified two novel point mutations in the R379 residue of the ARX homeodomain; c.1135C>A, p.R379S in a patient with infantile spasms and intellectual disability and c.1136G>T, p.R379L in a patient with XLAG. We investigated these and other missense mutations (R332P, R332H, R332C, T333N: associated with XLAG and Proud syndrome) predicted to affect the nuclear localisation sequences (NLS) flanking either end of the ARX homeodomain. The NLS regions are required for correct nuclear import facilitated by Importin 13 (IPO13). We demonstrate that missense mutations in either the N- or C-terminal NLS regions of the homeodomain cause significant disruption to nuclear localisation of the ARX protein in vitro. Surprisingly, none of these mutations abolished the binding of ARX to IPO13. This was confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation and immmuno fluorescence studies. Instead, tagged and endogenous IPO13 remained bound to the mutant ARX proteins, even in the RanGTP rich nuclear environment. We also identify the microtubule protein TUBA1A as a novel interacting protein for ARX and show cells expressing mutant ARX protein accumulate in mitosis, indicating normal cell division may be disrupted.
Conclusions
We show that the most likely, common pathogenic mechanism of the missense mutations in NLS regions of the ARX homeodomain is inadequate accumulation and distribution of the ARX transcription factor within the nucleus due to sequestration of ARX with IPO13.
doi:10.1186/1755-8417-3-1
PMCID: PMC2819251  PMID: 20148114

Results 1-13 (13)