X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is a genetic disorder of X-linked inheritance caused by a mutation in the ABCD1 gene which determines an accumulation of long-chain fatty acids in plasma and tissues. Recent evidence shows that oxidative stress may be a hallmark in the pathogenesis of X-ALD and glutathione plays an important role in the defense against free radicals. In this study we have analyzed glutathione homeostasis in lymphocytes of 14 patients with X-ALD and evaluated the balance between oxidized and reduced forms of glutathione, in order to define the role of this crucial redox marker in this condition.
Lymphocytes, plasma and erythrocytes were obtained from the whole blood of 14 subjects with X-ALD and in 30 healthy subjects. Total, reduced and protein-bound glutathione levels were measured in lymphocytes by HPLC analysis. Erythrocyte free glutathione and antioxidant enzyme activities, plasma thiols and carbonyl content were determined by spectrophotometric assays.
A significant decrease of total and reduced glutathione was found in lymphocytes of patients, associated to high levels of all oxidized glutathione forms. A decline of free glutathione was particularly significant in erythrocytes. The increased oxidative stress in X-ALD was additionally confirmed by the decrease of plasma thiols and the high level of carbonyls.
Our results strongly support a role for oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of X-ALD and strengthen the importance of the balance among glutathione forms as a hallmark and a potential biomarker of the disease.
•All glutathione forms are abnormal in blood of X-ALD patients.•Abnormal oxidative stress in X-ALD is confirmed by decrease of thiols in plasma.•Abnormal oxidative stress in X-ALD is confirmed by increased carbonyls in plasma.•Glutathione may be considered a redox hallmark/potential biomarker in X-ALD.
Glutathione; X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD); Oxidative stress; Redox markers
To test the effect of the single nucleotide polymorphism −66 T>G (rs28357094) in the osteopontin gene (SPP1) on functional measures over 12 months in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
This study was conducted on a cohort of ambulatory patients with DMD from a network of Italian neuromuscular centers, evaluated longitudinally with the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) and the 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) at study entry and after 12 months. Genotype at rs28357094 was determined after completion of the clinical evaluations. Patients were stratified in 2 groups according to a dominant model (TT homozygotes vs TG heterozygotes and GG homozygotes) and clinical data were retrospectively compared between groups.
Eighty patients were selected (age 4.1–19.3 years; mean 8.3 ± 2.7 SD). There were no differences in age or steroid treatment between the 2 subgroups. Paired t test showed a significant difference in both NSAA (p = 0.013) and 6MWT (p = 0.03) between baseline and follow-up after 12 months in patients with DMD carrying the G allele. The difference was not significant in the T subgroup. The analysis of covariance using age and baseline values as covariate and SPP1 genotype as fixed effect showed that these parameters are significantly correlated with the 12-month values.
These data provide evidence of the role of SPP1 genotype as a disease modifier in DMD and support its relevance in the selection of homogeneous groups of patients for future clinical trials.
Mutations within the C-terminal region of the COL6A1 gene are only detected in Ullrich/Bethlem patients on extremely rare occasions.
Herein we report two Brazilian brothers with a classic Ullrich phenotype and compound heterozygous for two truncating mutations in COL6A1 gene, expected to result in the loss of the α1(VI) chain C2 subdomain. Despite the reduction in COL6A1 RNA level due to nonsense RNA decay, three truncated alpha1 (VI) chains were produced as protein variants encoded by different out-of-frame transcripts. Collagen VI matrix was severely decreased and intracellular protein retention evident.
The altered deposition of the fibronectin network highlighted abnormal interactions of the mutated collagen VI, lacking the α1(VI) C2 domain, within the extracellular matrix, focusing further studies on the possible role played by collagen VI in fibronectin deposition and organization.
Ullrich congenital dystrophy; Collagen VI; C-terminal truncating mutations
Centronuclear myopathy (CNM) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder associated with general skeletal muscle weakness, type I fiber predominance and atrophy, and abnormally centralized nuclei. Autosomal dominant CNM is due to mutations in the large GTPase dynamin 2 (DNM2), a mechanochemical enzyme regulating cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking in cells. To date, 40 families with CNM-related DNM2 mutations have been described, and here we report 60 additional families encompassing a broad genotypic and phenotypic spectrum. In total, 18 different mutations are reported in 100 families and our cohort harbors nine known and four new mutations, including the first splice-site mutation. Genotype–phenotype correlation hypotheses are drawn from the published and new data, and allow an efficient screening strategy for molecular diagnosis. In addition to CNM, dissimilar DNM2 mutations are associated with Charcot–Marie–Tooth (CMT) peripheral neuropathy (CMTD1B and CMT2M), suggesting a tissue-specific impact of the mutations. In this study, we discuss the possible clinical overlap of CNM and CMT, and the biological significance of the respective mutations based on the known functions of dynamin 2 and its protein structure. Defects in membrane trafficking due to DNM2 mutations potentially represent a common pathological mechanism in CNM and CMT.
centronuclear myopathy; congenital myopathy; Charcot–Marie–Tooth neuropathy; DNM2; ADCNM; CMTD1B; DI-CMTB; CMT2M; hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy type II; HMSNII; MTM1; myotubular myopathy; BIN1; RYR1; endocytosis
The Dandy-Walker malformation (DWM) is one of the commonest congenital cerebellar defects, and can be associated with multiple congenital anomalies and chromosomal syndromes. The occurrence of overlapping 3q deletions including the ZIC1 and ZIC4 genes in few patients, along with data from mouse models, have implicated both genes in the pathogenesis of DWM.
Methods and results
Using a SNP-array approach, we recently identified three novel patients carrying heterozygous 3q deletions encompassing ZIC1 and ZIC4. Magnetic resonance imaging showed that only two had a typical DWM, while the third did not present any defect of the DWM spectrum. SNP-array analysis in further eleven children diagnosed with DWM failed to identify deletions of ZIC1-ZIC4. The clinical phenotype of the three 3q deleted patients included multiple congenital anomalies and peculiar facial appearance, related to the localization and extension of each deletion. In particular, phenotypes resulted from the variable combination of three recognizable patterns: DWM (with incomplete penetrance); blepharophimosis, ptosis, and epicanthus inversus syndrome; and Wisconsin syndrome (WS), recently mapped to 3q.
Our data indicate that the 3q deletion is a rare defect associated with DWM, and suggest that the hemizygosity of ZIC1-ZIC4 genes is neither necessary nor sufficient per se to cause this condition. Furthermore, based on a detailed comparison of clinical features and molecular data from 3q deleted patients, we propose clinical diagnostic criteria and refine the critical region for WS.
Dandy-Walker malformation; Wisconsin syndrome; 3q deletion; ZIC1-ZIC4 genes
Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Friedreich’s Ataxia (FRDA), a neurodegenerative disease caused by the decreased expression of frataxin, a mitochondrial protein responsible of iron homeostasis. Under conditions of oxidative stress, the activation of the transcription factor NF-E2-related factor (Nrf2) triggers the antioxidant cellular response by inducing antioxidant response element (ARE) driven genes. Increasing evidence supports a role for the Nrf2-ARE pathway in neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we analyzed the expression and the distribution of Nrf2 in silenced neurons for frataxin gene. Decreased Nrf2 mRNA content and a defective activation after treatment with pro-oxidants have been evidenced in frataxin-silenced neurons by RT-PCR and confocal microscopy. The loss of Nrf2 in FRDA may greatly enhance the cellular susceptibility to oxidative stress and make FRDA neurons more vulnerable to injury. Our findings may help to focus on this promising target, especially in its emerging role in the neuroprotective response.
FRDA; frataxin; Nrf2; GSSG; oxidative stress; NSC34 neurons
Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) is a rare, inborn error of metabolism characterized by iron accumulation in the basal ganglia and by the presence of dystonia, dysarthria, and retinal degeneration. Mutations in pantothenate kinase 2 (PANK2), the rate-limiting enzyme in mitochondrial coenzyme A biosynthesis, represent the most common genetic cause of this disorder. How mutations in this core metabolic enzyme give rise to such a broad clinical spectrum of pathology remains a mystery. To systematically explore its pathogenesis, we performed global metabolic profiling on plasma from a cohort of 14 genetically defined patients and 18 controls. Notably, lactate is elevated in PKAN patients, suggesting dysfunctional mitochondrial metabolism. As predicted, but never previously reported, pantothenate levels are higher in patients with premature stop mutations in PANK2. Global metabolic profiling and follow-up studies in patient-derived fibroblasts also reveal defects in bile acid conjugation and lipid metabolism, pathways that require coenzyme A. These findings raise a novel therapeutic hypothesis, namely, that dietary fats and bile acid supplements may hold potential as disease-modifying interventions. Our study illustrates the value of metabolic profiling as a tool for systematically exploring the biochemical basis of inherited metabolic diseases.
PKAN; coenzyme A; mitochondria; mass spectrometry; cholesterol
Mutations in dynamin 2 (DNM2) gene cause autosomal dominant centronuclear myopathy and occur in around 50% of patients with centronuclear myopathy. We report clinical, morphological, muscle imaging and genetic data of 10 unrelated Italian patients with centronuclear myopathy related to DNM2 mutations. Our results confirm the clinical heterogeneity of this disease, underlining some peculiar clinical features, such as severe pulmonary impairment and jaw contracture that should be considered in the clinical follow-up of these patients. Muscle MRI showed a distinct pattern of involvement, with predominant involvement of soleus and tibialis anterior in the lower leg muscles, followed by hamstring muscles and adductor magnus at thigh level and gluteus maximus. The detection of three novel DNM2 mutations and the first case of somatic mosaicism further expand the genetic spectrum of the disease.
DNM2; Centronuclear myopathy; Muscle MRI; ‘Necklace’ fibers; Somatic mosaicism
Barth syndrome (BS) is an X-linked infantile-onset cardioskeletal disease characterized by cardiomyopathy, hypotonia, growth delay, neutropenia and 3-methylglutaconic aciduria. It is caused by mutations in the TAZ gene encoding tafazzin, a protein involved in the metabolism of cardiolipin, a mitochondrial-specific phospholipid involved in mitochondrial energy production.
Clinical, biochemical and molecular characterization of a group of six male patients suspected of having BS. Three patients presented early with severe metabolic decompensation including respiratory distress, oxygen desaturation and cardiomyopathy and died within the first year of life. The remaining three patients had cardiomyopathy, hypotonia and growth delay and are still alive. Cardiomyopathy was detected during pregnancy through a routine check-up in one patient. All patients exhibited 3-methylglutaconic aciduria and neutropenia, when tested and five of them also had lactic acidosis.
We confirmed the diagnosis of BS with sequence analysis of the TAZ gene, and found five new mutations, c.641A>G p.His214Arg, c.284dupG (p.Thr96Aspfs*37), c.678_691del14 (p.Tyr227Trpfs*79), g.8009_16445del8437 and g.[9777_9814del38; 9911-?_14402del] and the known nonsense mutation c.367C>T (p.Arg123Term). The two gross rearrangements ablated TAZ exons 6 to 11 and probably originated by non-allelic homologous recombination and by Serial Replication Slippage (SRS), respectively. The identification of the breakpoints boundaries of the gross deletions allowed the direct detection of heterozygosity in carrier females.
Lactic acidosis associated with 3-methylglutaconic aciduria is highly suggestive of BS, whilst the severity of the metabolic decompensation at disease onset should be considered for prognostic purposes. Mutation analysis of the TAZ gene is necessary for confirming the clinical and biochemical diagnosis in probands in order to identify heterozygous carriers and supporting prenatal diagnosis and genetic counseling.
Barth syndrome; TAZ gene mutation; In utero cardiomyopathy; Metabolic decompensation; Lactic acidosis; 3-methylglutaconic aciduria; Gross deletions; Metabolic cardiomyopathy
To review the descriptive epidemiological data on neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs) in Italy, identify the spectrum of mutations in the causative genes, and analyze possible genotype-phenotype relations.
A cohort of NCL patients was recruited through CLNet, a nationwide network of child neurology units. Diagnosis was based on clinical and pathological criteria following ultrastructural investigation of peripheral tissues. Molecular confirmation was obtained during the diagnostic procedure or, when possible, retrospectively.
One hundred eighty-three NCL patients from 156 families were recruited between 1966 and 2010; 124 of these patients (from 88 families) were tested for known NCL genes, with 9.7% of the patients in this sample having not a genetic diagnosis. Late infantile onset NCL (LINCL) accounted for 75.8% of molecularly confirmed cases, the most frequent form being secondary to mutations in CLN2 (23.5%). Juvenile onset NCL patients accounted for 17.7% of this cohort, a smaller proportion than found in other European countries. Gene mutations predicted severe protein alterations in 65.5% of the CLN2 and 78.6% of the CLN7 cases. An incidence rate of 0.98/100,000 live births was found in 69 NCL patients born between 1992 and 2004, predicting 5 new cases a year. Prevalence was 1.2/1,000,000.
Descriptive epidemiology data indicate a lower incidence of NCLs in Italy as compared to other European countries. A relatively high number of private mutations affecting all NCL genes might explain the genetic heterogeneity. Specific gene mutations were associated with severe clinical courses in selected NCL forms only.
Childhood NCL; NCL Genes; Epidemiology; Italy
The aim of the study was i) to assess the spectrum of changes over 24 months in ambulant boys affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, ii) to establish the difference between the first and the second year results and iii) to identify possible early markers of loss of ambulation.
One hundred and thirteen patients (age range 4.1–17, mean 8.2) fulfilled the inclusion criteria, 67 of the 113 were on daily and 40 on intermittent steroids, while 6 were not on steroids. All were assessed using the 6 Minute Walk Test (6MWT), the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) and timed test.
On the 6MWT there was an average overall decline of −22.7 (SD 81.0) in the first year and of −64.7 (SD 123.1) in the second year. On the NSAA the average overall decline was of −1.86 (SD 4.21) in the first year and of −2.98 (SD 5.19) in the second year. Fourteen children lost ambulation, one in the first year and the other 13 in the second year of the study. A distance of at least 330 meters on the 6MWT, or a NSAA score of 18 at baseline reduced significantly the risk of losing ambulation within 2 years.
These results can be of help at the time of using inclusion criteria for a study in ambulant patients in order to minimize the risk of patients who may lose ambulation within the time of the trial.
Although Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies, X-linked recessive myopathies, predominantly affect males, a clinically significant proportion of females manifesting symptoms have also been reported. They represent an heterogeneous group characterized by variable degrees of muscle weakness and/or cardiac involvement. Though preferential inactivation of the normal X chromosome has long been considered the principal mechanism behind disease manifestation in these females, supporting evidence is controversial.
Eighteen females showing a mosaic pattern of dystrophin expression on muscle biopsy were recruited and classified as symptomatic (7) or asymptomatic (11), based on the presence or absence of muscle weakness. The causative DMD gene mutations were identified in all cases, and the X-inactivation pattern was assessed in muscle DNA. Transcriptional analysis in muscles was performed in all females, and relative quantification of wild-type and mutated transcripts was also performed in 9 carriers. Dystrophin protein was quantified by immunoblotting in 2 females.
The study highlighted a lack of relationship between dystrophic phenotype and X-inactivation pattern in females; skewed X-inactivation was found in 2 out of 6 symptomatic carriers and in 5 out of 11 asymptomatic carriers. All females were characterized by biallelic transcription, but no association was found between X-inactivation pattern and allele transcriptional balancing. Either a prevalence of wild-type transcript or equal proportions of wild-type and mutated RNAs was observed in both symptomatic and asymptomatic females. Moreover, very similar levels of total and wild-type transcripts were identified in the two groups of carriers.
This is the first study deeply exploring the DMD transcriptional behaviour in a cohort of female carriers. Notably, no relationship between X-inactivation pattern and transcriptional behaviour of DMD gene was observed, suggesting that the two mechanisms are regulated independently. Moreover, neither the total DMD transcript level, nor the relative proportion of the wild-type transcript do correlate with the symptomatic phenotype.
Dystrophinopathy; Female carriers; X-inactivation; Transcriptional balancing
Leukodystrophies (LD) are rare inherited disorders that primarily affect the white matter (WM) of the central nervous system. The large heterogeneity of LD results from the diversity of the genetically determined defects that interfere with glial cells functions. Astrocytes have been identified as the primary target of LD with cystic myelin breakdown including those related to mutations in the ubiquitous translation initiation factor eIF2B. EIF2B is involved in global protein synthesis and its regulation under normal and stress conditions. Little is known about how eIF2B mutations have a major effect on WM. We performed a transcriptomic analysis using fibroblasts of 10 eIF2B-mutated patients with a severe phenotype and 10 age matched patients with other types of LD in comparison to control fibroblasts. ANOVA was used to identify genes that were statistically significantly differentially expressed at basal state and after ER-stress. The pattern of differentially expressed genes between basal state and ER-stress did not differ significantly among each of the three conditions. However, 70 genes were specifically differentially expressed in eIF2B-mutated fibroblasts whatever the stress conditions tested compared to controls, 96% being under-expressed. Most of these genes were involved in mRNA regulation and mitochondrial metabolism. The 13 most representative genes, including genes belonging to the Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein (HNRNP) family, described as regulators of splicing events and stability of mRNA, were dysregulated during the development of eIF2B-mutated brains. HNRNPH1, F and C mRNA were over-expressed in foetus but under-expressed in children and adult brains. The abnormal regulation of HNRNP expression in the brain of eIF2B-mutated patients was concomitant with splicing dysregulation of the main genes involved in glial maturation such as PLP1 for oligodendrocytes and GFAP in astrocytes. These findings demonstrate a developmental deregulation of splicing events in glial cells that is related to abnormal production of HNRNP, in eIF2B-mutated brains.
The need for a collaborative approach to complex inherited diseases collectively referred to as laminopathies, encouraged Italian researchers, geneticists, physicians and patients to join in the Italian Network for Laminopathies, in 2009. Here, we highlight the advantages and added value of such a multidisciplinary effort to understand pathogenesis, clinical aspects and try to find a cure for Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, Mandibuloacral dysplasia, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria and forms of lamin-linked cardiomyopathy, neuropathy and lipodystrophy.
Laminopathies; Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy; Dilated Cardiomyopathy with Conduction Defects; Mandibuloacral Dysplasia; Familial Partial Lipodystrophy Type 2; Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome; Rare Diseases; Networking activity; interdisciplinary approach to diseases
We present HiTSEE (High-Throughput Screening Exploration Environment), a visualization tool for the analysis of large chemical screens used to examine biochemical processes. The tool supports the investigation of structure-activity relationships (SAR analysis) and, through a flexible interaction mechanism, the navigation of large chemical spaces. Our approach is based on the projection of one or a few molecules of interest and the expansion around their neighborhood and allows for the exploration of large chemical libraries without the need to create an all encompassing overview of the whole library. We describe the requirements we collected during our collaboration with biologists and chemists, the design rationale behind the tool, and two case studies on different datasets. The described integration (HiTSEE KNIME) into the KNIME platform allows additional flexibility in adopting our approach to a wide range of different biochemical problems and enables other research groups to use HiTSEE.
Childhood cerebellar ataxias, and particularly congenital ataxias, are heterogeneous disorders and several remain undefined. We performed a muscle biopsy in patients with congenital ataxia and children with later onset undefined ataxia having neuroimaging evidence of cerebellar atrophy. Significant reduced levels of Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) were found in the skeletal muscle of 9 out of 34 patients that were consecutively screened. A mutation in the ADCK3/Coq8 gene (R347X) was identified in a female patient with ataxia, seizures and markedly reduced COQ10 levels. In a 2.5-years-old male patient with non syndromic congenital ataxia and autophagic vacuoles in the muscle biopsy we identified a homozygous nonsense mutation R111X mutation in SIL1 gene, leading to early diagnosis of Marinesco-Sjogren syndrome. We think that muscle biopsy is a valuable procedure to improve diagnostic assesement in children with congenital ataxia or other undefined forms of later onset childhood ataxia associated to cerebellar atrophy at MRI.
Inherited cerebellar ataxias; Marinesco-Sjogren syndrome; Coenzyme Q10 deficiency
Pontocerebellar hypoplasia (PCH) is a heterogeneous group of diseases characterized by lack of development and/or early neurodegeneration of cerebellum and brainstem. According to clinical features, seven subtypes of PCH have been described, PCH type 2 related to TSEN54 mutations being the most frequent. PCH is most often autosomal recessive though de novo anomalies in the X-linked gene CASK have recently been identified in patients, mostly females, presenting with intellectual disability, microcephaly and PCH (MICPCH).
Fourteen patients (12 females and two males; aged 16 months-14 years) presenting with PCH at neuroimaging and with clinical characteristics unsuggestive of PCH1 or PCH2 were included. The CASK gene screening was performed using Array-CGH and sequencing. Clinical and neuroradiological features were collected.
We observed a high frequency of patients with a CASK mutation (13/14). Ten patients (8 girls and 2 boys) had intragenic mutations and three female patients had a Xp11.4 submicroscopic deletion including the CASK gene. All were de novo mutations. Phenotype was variable in severity but highly similar among the 11 girls and was characterized by psychomotor retardation, severe intellectual disability, progressive microcephaly, dystonia, mild dysmorphism, and scoliosis. Other signs were frequently associated, such as growth retardation, ophthalmologic anomalies (glaucoma, megalocornea and optic atrophy), deafness and epilepsy. As expected in an X-linked disease manifesting mainly in females, the boy hemizygous for a splice mutation had a very severe phenotype with nearly no development and refractory epilepsy. We described a mild phenotype in a boy with a mosaic truncating mutation. We found some degree of correlation between severity of the vermis hypoplasia and clinical phenotype.
This study describes a new series of PCH female patients with CASK inactivating mutations and confirms that these patients have a recognizable although variable phenotype consisting of a specific form of pontocerebellar hypoplasia. In addition, we report the second male patient to present with a severe MICPCH phenotype and a de novo CASK mutation and describe for the first time a mildly affected male patient harboring a mosaic mutation. In our reference centre, CASK related PCH is the second most frequent cause of PCH. The identification of a de novo mutation in these patients enables accurate and reassuring genetic counselling.
Pontocerebellar hypoplasia; Microcephaly; CASK gene; Mosaicism; Array-CGH
The Zellweger spectrum disorders (ZSDs) are known to be severe disorders with onset in the newborn period or later in childhood, frequently resulting in death during childhood or adolescence. Here, we report a case of ZSD due to mutations in the PEX2 gene, with very mild phenotype. A 51-year-old Italian man was referred to us because of a clinical picture characterized by ataxia, areflexia, nystagmus, and strabismus, with childhood onset and slowly progressive course. The patient showed no cognitive impairment. Neurological examination revealed gait ataxia, dysarthria, dysmetria, areflexia, and bilateral pes cavus. Nerve conduction studies indicated a severe axonal sensorimotor polyneuropathy. Brain MRI showed marked cerebellar atrophy and absence of white matter involvement. MR spectroscopy uncovered a decreased N-acetyl aspartate peak. Biochemical analyses suggested a mild peroxisomal defect. Sequence analysis of the PEX2 gene identified two heterozygous mutations. The clinical phenotype of our patient differs from previously reported ZSD patients with PEX2 gene mutations and suggests that genetic screening of PEX2 is warranted in children and adults with otherwise unexplained autosomal recessive ataxia. MRI findings diverged from the “classic” spectrum observed in ZSDs. The moderate impairment in peroxisome biogenesis seems to affect predominantly neuronal cells in cerebellum, leading to cerebellar atrophy.
Oral-Facial-Digital Syndrome type VI (OFD VI) represents a rare phenotypic subtype of Joubert syndrome and related disorders (JSRD). In the original report polydactyly, oral findings, intellectual disability, and absence of the cerebellar vermis at post-mortem characterized the syndrome. Subsequently, the molar tooth sign (MTS) has been found in patients with OFD VI, prompting the inclusion of OFD VI in JSRD. We studied the clinical, neurodevelopmental, neuroimaging, and genetic findings in a cohort of 16 patients with OFD VI. We derived the following inclusion criteria from the literature: 1) MTS and one oral finding and polydactyly, or 2) MTS and more than one typical oral finding. The OFD VI neuroimaging pattern was found to be more severe than in other JSRD subgroups and includes severe hypoplasia of the cerebellar vermis, hypoplastic and dysplastic cerebellar hemispheres, marked enlargement of the posterior fossa, increased retrocerebellar collection of cerebrospinal fluid, abnormal brainstem, and frequently supratentorial abnormalities that occasionally include characteristic hypothalamic hamartomas. Additionally, two new JSRD neuroimaging findings (ascending superior cerebellar peduncles and fused thalami) have been identified. Tongue hamartomas, additional frenula, upper lip notch, and mesoaxial polydactyly are specific findings in OFD VI, while cleft lip/palate and other types of polydactyly of hands and feet are not specific. Involvement of other organs may include ocular findings, particularly colobomas. The majority of the patients have absent motor development and profound cognitive impairment. In OFD VI, normal cognitive functions are possible, but exceptional. Sequencing of known JSRD genes in most patients failed to detect pathogenetic mutations, therefore the genetic basis of OFD VI remains unknown. Compared with other JSRD subgroups, the neurological findings and impairment of motor development and cognitive functions in OFD VI are significantly worse, suggesting a correlation with the more severe neuroimaging findings. Based on the literature and this study we suggest as diagnostic criteria for OFD VI: MTS and one or more of the following: 1) tongue hamartoma(s) and/or additional frenula and/or upper lip notch; 2) mesoaxial polydactyly of one or more hands or feet; 3) hypothalamic hamartoma.
Joubert syndrome and related disorders; Oral-facial-digital syndrome type VI; neuroimaging; molar tooth sign; cerebellar malformation
Congenital muscular dystrophies (CMDs) are clinically and genetically heterogeneous neuromuscular disorders with onset at birth or in infancy in which the muscle biopsy is compatible with a dystrophic myopathy. In the past 10 years, knowledge of neuromuscular disorders has dramatically increased, particularly with the exponential boost of disclosing the genetic background of CMDs. This review will highlight the clinical description of the most important forms of CMD, paying particular attention to the main keys for diagnostic approach. The diagnosis of CMDs requires the concurrence of expertise in multiple specialties (neurology, morphology, genetics, neuroradiology) available in a few centers worldwide that have achieved sufficient experience with the different CMD subtypes. Currently, molecular diagnosis is of paramount importance not only for phenotype-genotype correlations, genetic and prenatal counseling, and prognosis and aspects of management, but also concerning the imminent availability of clinical trials and treatments.
► Expanded array of mtDNA deletions. ► Pearson syndrome with prominent hepatopathy associated with single mtDNA deletions. ► Detection of deletions in fibroblasts and blood avoids muscle and liver biopsy. ► Look for mtDNA deletions before to study nuclear genes related to mtDNA depletion.
Hepatic involvement in mitochondrial cytopathies rarely manifests in adulthood, but is a common feature in children. Multiple OXPHOS enzyme defects in children with liver involvement are often associated with dramatically reduced amounts of mtDNA. We investigated two novel large scale deletions in two infants with a multisystem disorder and prominent hepatopathy. Amount of mtDNA deletions and protein content were measured in different post-mortem tissues. The highest levels of deleted mtDNA were in liver, kidney, pancreas of both patients. Moreover, mtDNA deletions were detected in cultured skin fibroblasts in both patients and in blood of one during life. Biochemical analysis showed impairment of mainly complex I enzyme activity. Patients manifesting multisystem disorders in childhood may harbour rare mtDNA deletions in multiple tissues. For these patients, less invasive blood specimens or cultured fibroblasts can be used for molecular diagnosis. Our data further expand the array of deletions in the mitochondrial genomes in association with liver failure. Thus analysis of mtDNA should be considered in the diagnosis of childhood-onset hepatopathies.
Mitochondrial disorders; Hepatopathy; OXPHOS; Complex I; mtDNA deletion
GM1 gangliosidosis and Morquio B syndrome, both arising from beta-galactosidase (GLB1) deficiency, are very rare lysosomal storage diseases with an incidence of about 1:100,000– 1:200,000 live births worldwide. Here we report the beta-galactosidase gene (GLB1) mutation analysis of 21 unrelated GM1 gangliosidosis patients, and of 4 Morquio B patients, of whom two are brothers. Clinical features of the patients were collected and compared with those in literature. In silico analyses were performed by standard alignments tools and by an improved version of GLB1 three-dimensional models. The analysed cohort includes remarkable cases. One patient with GM1 gangliosidosis had a triple X syndrome. One patient with juvenile GM1 gangliosidosis was homozygous for a mutation previously identified in Morquio type B. A patient with infantile GM1 gangliosidosis carried a complex GLB1 allele harbouring two genetic variants leading to p.R68W and p.R109W amino acid changes, in trans with the known p.R148C mutation.
Molecular analysis showed 27 mutations, 9 of which are new: 5 missense, 3 microdeletions and a nonsense mutation. We also identified four new genetic variants with a predicted polymorphic nature that was further investigated by in silico analyses.
Three-dimensional structural analysis of GLB1 homology models including the new missense mutations and the p.R68W and p.R109W amino acid changes, showed that all the amino acids replacements affected the resulting protein structures in different ways, from changes in polarity to folding alterations. Genetic and clinical associations led us to undertake a critical review of the classifications of late-onset GM1 gangliosidosis and Morquio B disease.
beta-galactosidase; GM1- gangliosidosis; Morquio B; mutation update; homology modelling
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disease characterized by degeneration of alpha motor neurons in the spinal cord, resulting in progressive proximal muscle weakness and paralysis. Estimated incidence is 1 in 6,000 to 1 in 10,000 live births and carrier frequency of 1/40-1/60. This disease is characterized by generalized muscle weakness and atrophy predominating in proximal limb muscles, and phenotype is classified into four grades of severity (SMA I, SMAII, SMAIII, SMA IV) based on age of onset and motor function achieved. This disease is caused by homozygous mutations of the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene, and the diagnostic test demonstrates in most patients the homozygous deletion of the SMN1 gene, generally showing the absence of SMN1 exon 7. The test achieves up to 95% sensitivity and nearly 100% specificity. Differential diagnosis should be considered with other neuromuscular disorders which are not associated with increased CK manifesting as infantile hypotonia or as limb girdle weakness starting later in life.
Considering the high carrier frequency, carrier testing is requested by siblings of patients or of parents of SMA children and are aimed at gaining information that may help with reproductive planning. Individuals at risk should be tested first and, in case of testing positive, the partner should be then analyzed. It is recommended that in case of a request on carrier testing on siblings of an affected SMA infant, a detailed neurological examination should be done and consideration given doing the direct test to exclude SMA. Prenatal diagnosis should be offered to couples who have previously had a child affected with SMA (recurrence risk 25%). The role of follow-up coordination has to be managed by an expert in neuromuscular disorders and in SMA who is able to plan a multidisciplinary intervention that includes pulmonary, gastroenterology/nutrition, and orthopedic care. Prognosis depends on the phenotypic severity going from high mortality within the first year for SMA type 1 to no mortality for the chronic and later onset forms.
Proximal spinal muscular atrophy; SMN1; SMN2; motor neurons Disease names and synonyms: Spinal muscular atrophy 5q linked; Proximal SMA
Six individuals with Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD) and mutations in the genes-encoding collagen VI, aging 5–9, received 3–5 mg/kg of cyclosporine A (CsA) daily for 1 to 3.2 years. The primary outcome measure was the muscle strength evaluated with a myometer and expressed as megalimbs. The megalimbs score showed significant improvement (P = 0.01) in 5 of the 6 patients. Motor function did not change. Respiratory function deteriorated in all. CsA treatment corrected mitochondrial dysfunction, increased muscle regeneration, and decreased the number of apoptotic nuclei. Results from this study demonstrate that long-term treatment with CsA ameliorates performance in the limbs, but not in the respiratory muscles of UCMD patients, and that it is well tolerated. These results suggest considering a trial of CsA or nonimmunosuppressive cyclosporins, that retains the PTP-desensitizing properties of CsA, as early as possible in UCMD patients when diaphragm is less compromised.
Myofibrillar myopathies (MFMs) are a heterogeneous group of neuromuscular disorders characterized by disintegration of myofibrils. The inheritance pattern in MFMs is commonly autosomal dominant, but there has been a striking absence of secondary cases noted in a BAG3-associated subtype. We studied three families with BAG3 p.Pro209Leu mutation showing a severe phenotype of myofibrillar myopathy and axonal neuropathy with giant axons. In one family, transmission to a pair of siblings has occurred from their asymptomatic father who showed somatic mosaicism. In two other families, neither of the parents was affected or showed detectable level of somatic mosaicism. These observations suggest that the BAG3 variant of MFM may result from a spontaneous mutation at an early point of embryonic development and that transmission from a mosaic parent may occur more than once. The study underlines the importance of parental evaluation as it may have implications for genetic counseling.
myofibrillar myopathy; limb-girdle muscular dystrophy; cardiomyopathy; giant axons; Bcl-2-associated athanogene 3 (BAG3)