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1.  Whole Exome Sequencing Identifies Three Novel Mutations in ANTXR1 in Families with GAPO Syndrome 
GAPO syndrome (OMIM#230740) is the acronym for growth retardation, alopecia, pseudoanodontia, and optic atrophy. About 35 cases have been reported, making it among one of the rarest recessive conditions. Distinctive craniofacial features including alopecia, rarefaction of eyebrows and eyelashes, frontal bossing, high forehead, mid-facial hypoplasia, hypertelorism, and thickened eyelids and lips make GAPO syndrome a clinically recognizable phenotype. While this genomic study was in progress mutations in ANTXR1 were reported to cause GAPO syndrome. In our study we performed whole exome sequencing (WES) for five affected individuals from three Turkish kindreds segregating the GAPO trait. Exome sequencing analysis identified three novel homozygous mutations including; one frame-shift (c.1220_1221insT; p.Ala408Cysfs*2), one splice site (c.411A>G; p.Gln137Gln), and one non-synonymous (c.1150G>A; p.Gly384Ser) mutation in the ANTXR1 gene. Our studies expand the allelic spectrum in this rare condition and potentially provide insight into the role of ANTXR1 in the regulation of the extracellular matrix.
PMCID: PMC4332576  PMID: 25045128
GAPO syndrome; ANTXR1; whole exome sequencing
2.  Genomic duplication resulting in increased copy number of genes encoding the sister chromatid cohesion complex conveys clinical consequences distinct from Cornelia de Lange 
Journal of medical genetics  2008;46(9):626-634.
Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) is a multisystem congenital anomaly disorder. Heterozygous point mutations in three genes (NIPBL, SMC3 and SMC1A), encoding components of the sister chromatid cohesion apparatus, are responsible for ∼ 50-60% of CdLS cases. Recent studies have revealed a high degree of genomic rearrangements (e.g. deletions and duplications) in the human genome, which result in gene copy number variations (CNV). CNVs have been associated with a wide range of both Mendelian and complex traits including disease phenotypes such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher, Parkinson, Alzheimer, autism and schizophrenia. Increased versus decreased copy number of the same gene can potentially cause either similar or different clinical features. We identified duplications on chromosomes 5 or X using genome wide array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (aCGH). The duplicated regions contain either the NIPBL or the SMC1A genes. Junction sequences analyses revealed the involvement of three genomic rearrangement mechanisms. The patients share some common features including mental retardation, developmental delay, sleep abnormalities, and crainofacial and limb defects. The systems affected are the same as in CdLS, but clinical manifestations are distinct from CdLS; particularly the absence of the CdLS facial gestalt. Our results confirm the notion that duplication CNV of genes can be a common mechanism for human genetic diseases. Defining the clinical consequences for a specific gene dosage alteration represents a new “reverse genomics” trend in medical genetics that is reciprocal to the traditional approach of delineation of the common clinical phenotype preceding the discovery of the genetic etiology.
PMCID: PMC4302738  PMID: 19052029
Copy number changes; CNV; CdLS; NIPBL; cohesion complex
3.  Exonic duplication CNV of NDRG1 associated with autosomal-recessive HMSN-Lom/CMT4D 
Copy-number variations as a mutational mechanism contribute significantly to human disease. Approximately one-half of the patients with Charcot–Marie–Tooth (CMT) disease have a 1.4 Mb duplication copy-number variation as the cause of their neuropathy. However, non-CMT1A neuropathy patients rarely have causative copy-number variations, and to date, autosomal-recessive CMT disease has not been associated with copy-number variation as a mutational mechanism.
We performed Agilent 8 × 60K array comparative genomic hybridization on DNA from 12 recessive Turkish families with CMT disease. Additional molecular studies were conducted to detect breakpoint junctions and to evaluate gene expression levels in a family in which we detected an intragenic duplication copy-number variation.
We detected an ~6.25 kb homozygous intragenic duplication in NDRG1, a gene known to be causative for recessive HMSNL/CMT4D, in three individuals from a Turkish family with CMT neuropathy. Further studies showed that this intragenic copy-number variation resulted in a homozygous duplication of exons 6–8 that caused decreased mRNA expression of NDRG1.
Exon-focused high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization enables the detection of copy-number variation carrier states in recessive genes, particularly small copy-number variations encompassing or disrupting single genes. In families for whom a molecular diagnosis has not been elucidated by conventional clinical assays, an assessment for copy-number variations in known CMT genes might be considered.
PMCID: PMC4224029  PMID: 24136616
autosomal recessive; Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease; CMT4D; CNV; NDRG1
4.  Opposing phenotypes in mice with Smith-Magenis deletion and Potocki -Lupski duplication syndromes suggest gene dosage effects on fluid consumption behavior 
A quantitative long-term fluid consumption and fluid licking assay was performed in two mouse models with either an ~ 2Mb genomic deletion, Df(11)17, or the reciprocal duplication CNV, Dp(11)17, analogous to the human genomic rearrangements causing either Smith-Magenis syndrome [SMS; OMIM #182290] or Potocki-Lupski syndrome [PTLS; OMIM #610883], respectively. Both mouse strains display distinct quantitative alteration in fluid consumption compared to their wild-type littermates; several of these changes are diametrically opposing between the two chromosome engineered mouse models. Mice with duplication vs. deletion showed longer vs. shorter intervals between visits to the waterspout, generated more vs. less licks per visit and had higher vs. lower variability in the number of licks per lick-burst as compared to their respective wild-type littermates. These findings suggest that copy number variation can affect long-term fluid consumption behavior in mice. Other behavior differences were unique for either the duplication or deletion mutants; the deletion CNV resulted in increased variability of the licking rhythm, and the duplication CNV resulted in a significant slowing of the licking rhythm. Our findings document a readily quantitated complex behavioral response that can be directly and reciprocally influenced by a gene dosage effect.
PMCID: PMC3477298  PMID: 22991245
Copy number variation (CNV); fluid consumption behavior; gene dosage effect Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS); Potocki-Lupski syndrome (PTLS)
5.  Circadian Abnormalities in Mouse Models of Smith–Magenis Syndrome: Evidence for Involvement of RAI1 
Smith–Magenis syndrome (SMS; OMIM 182290) is a genomic disorder characterized by multiple congenital anomalies, intellectual disability, behavioral abnormalities, and disordered sleep resulting froman ~3.7 Mb deletion copy number variant (CNV) on chromosome 17p11.2 or from point mutations in the gene RAI1. The reciprocal duplication of this region results in another genomic disorder, Potocki–Lupski syndrome (PTLS; OMIM 610883), characterized by autism, intellectual disability, and congenital anomalies. We previously used chromosome-engineering and gene targeting to generate mouse models for PTLS (Dp(11)17/+), and SMS due to either deletion CNV or gene knock-out (Df(11)17–2/+ and Rai1+/−, respectively) and we observed phenotypes in these mouse models consistent with their associated human syndromes. To investigate the contribution of individual genes to the circadian phenotypes observed in SMS, we now report the analysis of free-running period lengths in Rai1+/− and Df(11)17–2/+mice, as well as in mice deficient for another known circadian gene mapping within the commonly deleted/duplicated region, Dexras1, and we compare these results to those previously observed in Dp(11)17/+ mice. Reduced free-running period lengths were seen in Df(11)17–2/+, Rai1+/−, and Dexras1−/−, but not Dexras1+/− mice, suggesting that Rai1 may be the primary gene underlying the circadian defects in SMS. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that cis effects between multiple haploinsufficient genes in the SMS critical interval (e.g., RAI1 and DEXRAS1) either exacerbate the circadian phenotypes observed in SMS patients with deletions or increase their penetrance in certain environments. This study also confirms a previous report of abnormal circadian function in Dexras1−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC4086898  PMID: 23703963
Dexras1; sleep disorder; CNV; PTLS; genomic disorder
6.  Mutations in VRK1 Associated With Complex Motor and Sensory Axonal Neuropathy Plus Microcephaly 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(12):1491-1498.
Patients with rare diseases and complex clinical presentations represent a challenge for clinical diagnostics. Genomic approaches are allowing the identification of novel variants in genes for very rare disorders, enabling a molecular diagnosis. Genomics is also revealing a phenotypic expansion whereby the full spectrum of clinical expression conveyed by mutant alleles at a locus can be better appreciated.
To elucidate the molecular cause of a complex neuropathy phenotype in 3 patients by applying genomic sequencing strategies.
Three affected individuals from 2 unrelated families presented with a complex neuropathy phenotype characterized by axonal sensorimotor neuropathy and microcephaly. They were recruited into the Centers for Mendelian Genomics research program to identify the molecular cause of their phenotype. Whole-genome, targeted whole-exome sequencing, and high-resolution single-nucleotide polymorphism arrays were performed in genetics clinics of tertiary care pediatric hospitals and biomedical research institutions.
Whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing identified the variants responsible for the patients’ clinical phenotype.
We identified compound heterozygous alleles in 2 affected siblings from 1 family and a homozygous nonsense variant in the third unrelated patient in the vaccinia-related kinase 1 gene (VRK1). In the latter subject, we found a common haplotype on which the nonsense mutation occurred and that segregates in the Ashkenazi Jewish population.
We report the identification of disease-causing alleles in 3 children from 2 unrelated families with a previously uncharacterized complex axonal motor and sensory neuropathy accompanied by severe nonprogressive microcephaly and cerebral dysgenesis. Our data raise the question of whether VRK1 mutations disturb cell cycle progression and may result in apoptosis of cells in the nervous system. The application of unbiased genomic approaches allows the identification of potentially pathogenic mutations in unsuspected genes in highly genetically heterogeneous and uncharacterized neurological diseases.
PMCID: PMC4039291  PMID: 24126608
7.  Replicative mechanisms for CNV formation are error prone 
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):10.1038/ng.2768.
We investigated 67 breakpoint junctions of gene copy number gains (CNVs) in 31 unrelated subjects. We observed a strikingly high frequency of small deletions and insertions (29%) apparently originating from polymerase-slippage events, in addition to frameshifts and point mutations in homonucleotide runs (13%), at or flanking the breakpoint junctions of complex CNVs. These simple nucleotide variants (SNV) were generated concomitantly with the de novo complex genomic rearrangement (CGR) event. Our findings implicate a low fidelity error-prone DNA polymerase in synthesis associated with DNA repair mechanisms that leads to a local increase in point mutation burden associated with human CGR.
PMCID: PMC3821386  PMID: 24056715
MMBIR; FoSTeS; MECP2; duplication; complex rearrangements; triplication; CNVs
8.  Molecular Findings Among Patients Referred for Clinical Whole-Exome Sequencing 
JAMA  2014;312(18):1870-1879.
Clinical whole-exome sequencing is increasingly used for diagnostic evaluation of patients with suspected genetic disorders.
To perform clinical whole-exome sequencing and report (1) the rate of molecular diagnosis among phenotypic groups, (2) the spectrum of genetic alterations contributing to disease, and (3) the prevalence of medically actionable incidental findings such as FBN1 mutations causing Marfan syndrome.
Observational study of 2000 consecutive patients with clinical whole-exome sequencing analyzed between June 2012 and August 2014. Whole-exome sequencing tests were performed at a clinical genetics laboratory in the United States. Results were reported by clinical molecular geneticists certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics. Tests were ordered by the patient’s physician. The patients were primarily pediatric (1756 [88%]; mean age, 6 years; 888 females [44%], 1101 males [55%], and 11 fetuses [1% gender unknown]), demonstrating diverse clinical manifestations most often including nervous system dysfunction such as developmental delay.
Whole-exome sequencing diagnosis rate overall and by phenotypic category, mode of inheritance, spectrum of genetic events, and reporting of incidental findings.
A molecular diagnosis was reported for 504 patients (25.2%) with 58% of the diagnostic mutations not previously reported. Molecular diagnosis rates for each phenotypic category were 143/526 (27.2%; 95% CI, 23.5%–31.2%) for the neurological group, 282/1147 (24.6%; 95% CI, 22.1%–27.2%) for the neurological plus other organ systems group, 30/83 (36.1%; 95% CI, 26.1%–47.5%) for the specific neurological group, and 49/244 (20.1%; 95% CI, 15.6%–25.8%) for the nonneurological group. The Mendelian disease patterns of the 527 molecular diagnoses included 280 (53.1%) autosomal dominant, 181 (34.3%) autosomal recessive (including 5 with uniparental disomy), 65 (12.3%) X-linked, and 1 (0.2%) mitochondrial. Of 504 patients with a molecular diagnosis, 23 (4.6%) had blended phenotypes resulting from 2 single gene defects. About 30% of the positive cases harbored mutations in disease genes reported since 2011. There were 95 medically actionable incidental findings in genes unrelated to the phenotype but with immediate implications for management in 92 patients (4.6%), including 59 patients (3%) with mutations in genes recommended for reporting by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics.
Whole-exome sequencing provided a potential molecular diagnosis for 25% of a large cohort of patients referred for evaluation of suspected genetic conditions, including detection of rare genetic events and new mutations contributing to disease. The yield of whole-exome sequencing may offer advantages over traditional molecular diagnostic approaches in certain patients.
PMCID: PMC4326249  PMID: 25326635
9.  High Resolution Molecular Genomic Autopsy Reveals Complex SUDEP Risk Profile 
Epilepsia  2013;55(2):e6-12.
Advanced variant detection in genes underlying risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) can uncover extensive epistatic complexity and improve diagnostic accuracy of epilepsy related mortality. However, the sensitivity and clinical utility of diagnostic panels based solely on established cardiac arrhythmia genes in the molecular autopsy of SUDEP is unknown.
We applied the established clinical diagnostic panels, followed by sequencing and a high density copy number variant (CNV) detection array of an additional 253 related ion channel subunit genes to analyze the overall genomic variation in a SUDEP of the three year old proband with severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI).
We uncovered complex combinations of single nucleotide polymorphisms and CNVs in genes expressed in both neuro-cardiac and respiratory control pathways, including SCN1A, KCNA1, RYR3, and HTR2C.
Our findings demonstrate the importance of comprehensive high resolution variant analysis in the assessment of personally relevant SUDEP risk. In this case, the combination of de novo SNPs and CNVs in the SCN1A and KCNA1 genes respectively is suspected to be the principal risk factor for both epilepsy and premature death. However, consideration of the overall biologically relevant variant complexity with its extensive functional epistatic interactions reveals potential personal risk more accurately.
PMCID: PMC4195652  PMID: 24372310
SUDEP; SMEI; Epileptic Encephalopathy; Dravet Syndrome; Gene; Risk; Molecular Autopsy
10.  Human subtelomeric copy number gains suggest a DNA replication mechanism for formation: beyond breakage – fusion - bridge for telomere stabilization 
Human genetics  2012;131(12):1895-1910.
Constitutional deletions of distal 9q34 encompassing the EHMT1 (euchromatic histone methyltransferase 1) gene, or loss-of-function point mutations in EHMT1, are associated with the 9q34.3 microdeletion, also known as Kleefstra syndrome [MIM#610253]. We now report further evidence for genomic instability of the subtelomeric 9q34.3 region as evidenced by copy number gains of this genomic interval that include duplications, triplications, derivative chromosomes and complex rearrangements. Comparisons between the observed shared clinical features and molecular analyses in 20 subjects suggest that increased dosage of EHMT1 may be responsible for the neurodevelopmental impairment, speech delay, and autism spectrum disorders revealing the dosage sensitivity of yet another chromatin remodeling protein in human disease. Five patients had 9q34 genomic abnormalities resulting in complex deletion-duplication or duplication-triplication rearrangements; such complex triplications were also observed in six other subtelomeric intervals. Based on the specific structure of these complex genomic rearrangements (CGR) a DNA replication mechanism is proposed confirming recent findings in C elegans telomere healing. The end-replication challenges of subtelomeric genomic intervals may make them particularly prone to rearrangements generated by errors in DNA replication.
PMCID: PMC3493700  PMID: 22890305
chromosome 9q34.3; duplication; triplication; molecular mechanism; subtelomeric rearrangements; genomic disorder; telomere stabilization
11.  Curcumin facilitates a transitory cellular stress response in Trembler-J mice 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(23):4698-4705.
We have previously shown that oral administration of curcumin significantly decreases the percentage of apoptotic Schwann cells and partially mitigates the severe neuropathy phenotype of the Trembler-J (Tr-J) mouse model in a dose-dependent manner. Here we compared the gene expression in sciatic nerves of 2-week-old pups and adult Tr-J with the same age groups of wild-type mice and found a significant increase in gene expression for hypoxia, inflammatory response and heat-shock proteins, the latter specifically the Hsp70 family, in Tr-J mice. We also detected an activation of different branches of unfolded protein responses (UPRs) in Tr-J mice. Administering curcumin results in lower expression of UPR markers suggesting it relieves endoplasmic reticulum (ER) cell stress sensors in sciatic nerves of Tr-J mice while the level of heat-shock proteins stays comparable to untreated Tr-J mice. We further tested if Hsp70 levels could influence the severity of the Tr-J neuropathy. Notably, reduced dosage of the Hsp70 strongly potentiates the severity of the Tr-J neuropathy, though the absence of Hsp70 had little effect in wild-type mice. In aggregate, these data provide further insights into the pathological disease mechanisms caused by myelin gene mutations and further support the exploration of curcumin as a therapeutic approach for selected forms of inherited neuropathy and potentially for other genetic diseases due to ER-retained mutants.
PMCID: PMC3820132  PMID: 23847051
12.  Evidence for replicative mechanism in a CHD7 rearrangement in a patient with CHARGE syndrome 
Haploinsufficiency of CHD7 (OMIM# 608892) is known to cause CHARGE syndrome (OMIM# 214800). Molecular testing supports a definitive diagnosis in approximately 65%–70% of cases. Most CHD7 mutations arise de novo, and no mutations affecting exon-7 have been reported to date. We report on an 8-year-old girl diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome that was referred to our laboratory for comprehensive CHD7 gene screening. Genomic DNA from the subject with a suspected diagnosis of CHARGE was isolated from peripheral blood lymphocytes and comprehensive Sanger sequencing, along with deletion/duplication analysis of the CHD7 gene using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA), was performed. MLPA analysis identified a reduced single probe signal for exon-7 of the CHD7 gene consistent with potential heterozygous deletion. Long-range PCR breakpoint analysis identified a complex genomic rearrangement (CGR) leading to the deletion of exon-7 and breakpoints consistent with a replicative mechanism such as fork stalling and template switching (FoSTeS) or microhomology-mediated break-induced replication (MMBIR). Taken together this represents the first evidence for a CHD7 intragenic CGR in a patient with CHARGE syndrome leading to what appears to be also the first report of a mutation specifically disrupting exon-7. Although likely rare, CGR may represent an overlooked mechanism in subjects with CHARGE syndrome that can be missed by current sequencing and dosage assays.
PMCID: PMC3926511  PMID: 23956205
13.  GJB1/Connexin 32 whole gene deletions in patients with X-linked Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease 
Neurogenetics  2010;11(4):465-470.
The X-linked form of Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (CMTX) is the second most common form of this genetically heterogeneous inherited peripheral neuropathy. CMT1X is caused by mutations in the GJB1 gene. Most of the mutations causative for CMT1X are missense mutations. In addition, a few disease causative nonsense mutations and frameshift deletions that lead to truncated forms of the protein have also been reported to be associated with CMT1X. Previously, there have been reports of patients with deletions of the coding sequence of GJB1; however, the size and breakpoints of these deletions were not assessed. Here, we report five patients with deletions that range in size from 12.2 to 48.3 kb and that completely eliminate the entire coding sequence of the GJB1 gene, resulting in a null allele for this locus. Analyses of the breakpoints of these deletions showed that they are nonrecurrent and that they can be generated by different mechanisms. In addition to PMP22, GJB1 is the second CMT gene for which both point mutations and genomic rearrangements can cause a neuropathy phenotype, stressing the importance of CMT as a genomic disorder.
PMCID: PMC4222676  PMID: 20532933
Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease; GJB1; Connexin32; Gene deletion; Genomic rearrangement
14.  Incidental copy-number variants identified by routine genome testing in a clinical population 
Mutational load of susceptibility variants has not been studied on a genomic scale in a clinical population, nor has the potential to identify these mutations as incidental findings during clinical testing been systematically ascertained.
Array comparative genomic hybridization, a method for genome-wide detection of DNA copy-number variants, was performed clinically on DNA from 9,005 individuals. Copy-number variants encompassing or disrupting single genes were identified and analyzed for their potential to confer predisposition to dominant, adult-onset disease. Multigene copy-number variants affecting dominant, adult-onset cancer syndrome genes were also assessed.
In our cohort, 83 single-gene copy-number variants affected 40 unique genes associated with dominant, adult-onset disorders and unrelated to the patients’ referring diagnoses (i.e., incidental) were found. Fourteen of these copy-number variants are likely disease-predisposing, 25 are likely benign, and 44 are of unknown clinical consequence. When incidental copy-number variants spanning up to 20 genes were considered, 27 copy-number variants affected 17 unique genes associated with dominant, adult-onset cancer predisposition.
Copy-number variants potentially conferring susceptibility to adult-onset disease can be identified as incidental findings during routine genome-wide testing. Some of these mutations may be medically actionable, enabling disease surveillance or prevention; however, most incidentally observed single-gene copy-number variants are currently of unclear significance to the patient.
PMCID: PMC3705759  PMID: 22878507
copy-number variation; genetic load; genomic mutational load; incidentalome; structural variation; variants of unknown significance
15.  The allelic spectrum of Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease in over 17,000 individuals with neuropathy 
We report the frequency, positive rate, and type of mutations in 14 genes (PMP22, GJB1, MPZ, MFN2, SH3TC2, GDAP1, NEFL, LITAF, GARS, HSPB1, FIG4, EGR2, PRX, and RAB7A) associated with Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (CMT) in a cohort of 17,880 individuals referred to a commercial genetic testing laboratory. Deidentified results from sequencing assays and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) were analyzed including 100,102 Sanger sequencing, 2338 next-generation sequencing (NGS), and 21,990 MLPA assays. Genetic abnormalities were identified in 18.5% (n = 3312) of all individuals. Testing by Sanger and MLPA (n = 3216) showed that duplications (dup) (56.7%) or deletions (del) (21.9%) in the PMP22 gene accounted for the majority of positive findings followed by mutations in the GJB1 (6.7%), MPZ (5.3%), and MFN2 (4.3%) genes. GJB1 del and mutations in the remaining genes explained 5.3% of the abnormalities. Pathogenic mutations were distributed as follows: missense (70.6%), nonsense (14.3%), frameshift (8.7%), splicing (3.3%), in-frame deletions/insertions (1.8%), initiator methionine mutations (0.8%), and nonstop changes (0.5%). Mutation frequencies, positive rates, and the types of mutations were similar between tests performed by either Sanger (n = 17,377) or NGS (n = 503). Among patients with a positive genetic finding in a CMT-related gene, 94.9% were positive in one of four genes (PMP22, GJB1, MPZ, or MFN2).
PMCID: PMC4303222  PMID: 25614874
Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease; genetic testing; high-throughput nucleotide sequencing; molecular epidemiology; peripheral neuropathy
16.  Clinical Whole-Exome Sequencing for the Diagnosis of Mendelian Disorders 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(16):1502-1511.
Whole-exome sequencing is a diagnostic approach for the identification of molecular defects in patients with suspected genetic disorders.
We developed technical, bioinformatic, interpretive, and validation pipelines for whole-exome sequencing in a certified clinical laboratory to identify sequence variants underlying disease phenotypes in patients.
We present data on the first 250 probands for whom referring physicians ordered whole-exome sequencing. Patients presented with a range of phenotypes suggesting potential genetic causes. Approximately 80% were children with neurologic pheno-types. Insurance coverage was similar to that for established genetic tests. We identified 86 mutated alleles that were highly likely to be causative in 62 of the 250 patients, achieving a 25% molecular diagnostic rate (95% confidence interval, 20 to 31). Among the 62 patients, 33 had autosomal dominant disease, 16 had auto-somal recessive disease, and 9 had X-linked disease. A total of 4 probands received two nonoverlapping molecular diagnoses, which potentially challenged the clinical diagnosis that had been made on the basis of history and physical examination. A total of 83% of the autosomal dominant mutant alleles and 40% of the X-linked mutant alleles occurred de novo. Recurrent clinical phenotypes occurred in patients with mutations that were highly likely to be causative in the same genes and in different genes responsible for genetically heterogeneous disorders.
Whole-exome sequencing identified the underlying genetic defect in 25% of consecutive patients referred for evaluation of a possible genetic condition. (Funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute.)
PMCID: PMC4211433  PMID: 24088041
17.  Whole-Exome Sequencing Reveals GPIHBP1 Mutations in Infantile Colitis With Severe Hypertriglyceridemia 
Severe congenital hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) is a rare disorder caused by mutations in genes affecting lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity. Here we report a 5-week-old Hispanic girl with severe HTG (12,031 mg/dL, normal limit 150 mg/dL) who presented with the unusual combination of lower gastrointestinal bleeding and milky plasma. Initial colonoscopy was consistent with colitis, which resolved with reduction of triglycerides. After negative sequencing of the LPL gene, whole-exome sequencing revealed novel compound heterozygous mutations in GPIHBP1. Our study broadens the phenotype of GPIHBP1-associated HTG, reinforces the effectiveness of whole-exome sequencing in Mendelian diagnoses, and implicates triglycer-ides in gastrointestinal mucosal injury.
PMCID: PMC4203304  PMID: 24614124
chylomicronemia; colitis; hyperlipoproteinemia; lipoprotein lipase; next-generation sequencing
18.  Mechanisms for recurrent and complex human genomic rearrangements 
During the last two decades, the importance of human genome copy number variation (CNV) in disease has become widely recognized. However, much is not understood about underlying mechanisms. We show how, although model organism research guides molecular understanding, important insights are gained from study of the wealth of information available in the clinic. We describe progress in explaining nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR), a major cause of copy number change occurring when control of allelic recombination fails, highlight the growing importance of replicative mechanisms to explain complex events, and describe progress in understanding extreme chromosome reorganization (chromothripsis). Both non-homologous end-joining and aberrant replication have significant roles in chromothripsis. As we study CNV, the processes underlying human genome evolution are revealed.
PMCID: PMC3378805  PMID: 22440479
NAHR; FoSTeS; MMBIR; ectopic synapsis; PRDM9; triplication; chromothripsis
19.  Evidence for disease penetrance relating to CNV size: Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease and manifesting carriers with a familial 11 Mb duplication at Xq22 
Clinical genetics  2011;81(6):532-541.
The potential causes for the incomplete penetrance of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) in female carriers of PLP1 mutations are not well understood. We present a family with a boy having PMD in association with PLP1 duplication and three females who are apparent manifesting carriers. Custom high-resolution oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and breakpoint junction sequencing were performed and revealed a familial complex duplication consisting of a small duplicated genomic interval (~56 kb) and a large segmental duplication (~11 Mb) that results in a PLP1 CNV gain. Breakpoint junction analysis implicates a replication-based mechanism underlying the rearrangement formation. X-inactivation studies showed a random to moderate advantageous skewing pattern in peripheral blood cells but a moderate to extremely skewed (≥ 90%) pattern in buccal cells. In conclusion, our data shows that complex duplications involving PLP1 are not uncommon, can be detected at the level of genome resolution afforded by clinical aCGH and duplication and inversion can be produced in the same event. Furthermore, the observation of three manifesting carriers with a large genomic rearrangement supports the contention that duplication size along with genomic content can be an important factor for penetrance of the PMD phenotype in females.
PMCID: PMC3470482  PMID: 21623770
complex rearrangement; FoSTeS; manifesting female carriers; MMBIR; penetrance; PLP1; PMD
20.  Genitourinary Defects Associated with Genomic Deletions in 2p15 Encompassing OTX1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107028.
Normal development of the genitourinary (GU) tract is a complex process that frequently goes awry. In male children the most frequent congenital GU anomalies are cryptorchidism (1–4%), hypospadias (1%) and micropenis (0.35%). Bladder exstrophy and epispadias complex (BEEC) (1∶47000) occurs less frequently but significantly impacts patients' lives. Array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) identified seven individuals with overlapping deletions in the 2p15 region (66.0 kb-5.6 Mb). Six of these patients have GU defects, while the remaining patient has no GU defect. These deletions encompass the transcription factor OTX1. Subjects 2–7 had large de novo CNVs (2.39–6.31 Mb) and exhibited features similar to those associated with the 2p15p16.1 and 2p15p14 microdeletion syndromes, including developmental delay, short stature, and variable GU defects. Subject-1 with BEEC had the smallest deletion (66 kb), which deleted only one copy of OTX1. Otx1-null mice have seizures, prepubescent transient growth retardation and gonadal defects. Two subjects have short stature, two have seizures, and six have GU defects, mainly affecting the external genitalia. The presence of GU defects in six patients in our cohort and eight of thirteen patients reported with deletions within 2p14p16.1 (two with deletion of OTX1) suggest that genes in 2p15 are important for GU development. Genitalia defects in these patients could result from the effect of OTX1 on pituitary hormone secretion or on the regulation of SHH signaling, which is crucial for development of the bladder and genitalia.
PMCID: PMC4159299  PMID: 25203062
21.  NIPBL rearrangements in Cornelia de Lange syndrome: evidence for replicative mechanism and genotype–phenotype correlation 
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a multisystem congenital anomaly disorder characterized by mental retardation, limb abnormalities, distinctive facial features, and hirsutism. Mutations in three genes involved in sister chromatid cohesion, NIPBL, SMC1A, and SMC3, account for ~55% of CdLS cases. The molecular etiology of a significant fraction of CdLS cases remains unknown. We hypothesized that large genomic rearrangements of cohesin complex subunit genes may play a role in the molecular etiology of this disorder.
Custom high-resolution oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization analyses interrogating candidate cohesin genes and breakpoint junction sequencing of identified genomic variants were performed.
Of the 162 patients with CdLS, for whom mutations in known CdLS genes were previously negative by sequencing, deletions containing NIPBL exons were observed in 7 subjects (~5%). Breakpoint sequences in five patients implicated microhomology-mediated replicative mechanisms—such as serial replication slippage and fork stalling and template switching/microhomology-mediated break-induced replication—as a potential predominant contributor to these copy number variations. Most deletions are predicted to result in haploinsuflciency due to heterozygous loss-of-function mutations; such mutations may result in a more severe CdLS phenotype.
Our findings suggest a potential clinical utility to testing for copy number variations involving NIPBL when clinically diagnosed CdLS cases are mutation-negative by DNA-sequencing studies.
PMCID: PMC3556738  PMID: 22241092
aCGH; CdLS; CNV; genomic rearrangement; NIPBL
22.  A functional role for structural variation in metabolism 
Adipocyte  2013;2(1):55-57.
A contribution of structural genomic variation to the heritability of complex metabolic phenotypes was illuminated by the recent characterization of chromosome-engineered mouse models for genomic disorders associated with metabolic dysfunction. Herein we discuss our study, “A duplication CNV that conveys traits reciprocal to metabolic syndrome and protects against diet-induced obesity in mice and men,” which describes the opposing metabolic phenotypes of mouse models for two prototypical genomic disorders,1,2 Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS) and Potocki-Lupski syndrome (PTLS). SMS and PTLS are caused by reciprocal deletion or duplication copy number variations (CNVs), respectively, on chromosome 17p11.2. The implications of the results of this study and the potential relevance of these findings for future studies in the field of metabolism are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3661138  PMID: 23700554
CNV; obesity; metabolic syndrome; mouse model; structural variation; genomics
23.  Chromosome catastrophes involve replication mechanisms generating complex genomic rearrangements 
Cell  2011;146(6):889-903.
Complex genomic rearrangements (CGR) consisting of two or more breakpoint junctions have been observed in genomic disorders. Recently, a chromosome catastrophe phenomenon termed chromothripsis, in which numerous genomic rearrangements are apparently acquired in one single catastrophic event, was described in multiple cancers. Here we show that constitutionally acquired CGRs share similarities with cancer chromothripsis. In the 17 CGR cases investigated we observed localization and multiple copy number changes including deletions, duplications and/or triplications, as well as extensive translocations and inversions. Genomic rearrangements involved varied in size and complexities; in one case, array comparative genomic hybridization revealed 18 copy number changes. Breakpoint sequencing identified characteristic features, including small templated insertions at breakpoints and microhomology at breakpoint junctions, which have been attributed to replicative processes. The resemblance between CGR and chromothripsis suggests similar mechanistic underpinnings. Such chromosome catastrophic events appear to reflect basic DNA metabolism operative throughout an organism’s life cycle.
PMCID: PMC3242451  PMID: 21925314
24.  Increased genome instability in human DNA segments with self-chains: homology-induced structural variations via replicative mechanisms 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(13):2642-2651.
Environmental factors including ionizing radiation and chemical agents have been known to be able to induce DNA rearrangements and cause genomic structural variations (SVs); however, the roles of intrinsic characteristics of the human genome, such as regional genome architecture, in SV formation and the potential mechanisms underlying genomic instability remain to be further elucidated. Recently, locus-specific observations showed that ‘self-chain’ (SC), a group of short low-copy repeats (LCRs) in the human genome, can induce autism-associated SV mutations of the MECP2 and NRXN1 genes. In this study, we conducted a genome-wide analysis to investigate SCs and their potential roles in genomic SV formation. Utilizing a vast amount of human SV data, we observed a significant biased distribution of human germline SV breakpoints to SC regions. Notably, the breakpoint distribution pattern is different between SV types across deletion, duplication, inversion and insertion. Our observations were coincident with a mechanism of SC-induced DNA replicative errors, whereas SC may sporadically be used as substrates of nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR). This contention was further supported by our consistent findings in somatic SV mutations of cancer genomes, suggesting a general mechanism of SC-induced genome instability in human germ and somatic cells.
PMCID: PMC3674805  PMID: 23474816
25.  Alu-specific microhomology-mediated deletion of the final exon of SPAST in three unrelated subjects with hereditary spastic paraplegia 
Autosomal dominant spastic paraplegia, type 4 (SPG4), a debilitating disorder of progressive spasticity and weakness of the lower limbs, results from heterozygous mutations in the SPAST gene. The full spectrum of SPAST mutations causing SPG4 and their mechanisms of formation remain to be determined.
We used multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification, locus-specific array comparative genomic hybridization, and breakpoint DNA sequencing to identify and describe genomic rearrangements in three patients with a clinical presentation of hereditary spastic paraplegia.
We describe three SPG4 patients with intragenic rearrangements in SPAST; all specifically delete the final exon, exon 17. Breakpoint sequence analyses provide evidence for Alu-specific microhomology-mediated deletion as the mechanism of exon loss; one complex rearrangement apparently occurred by multiple Alu-facilitated template switches.
We hypothesize that the high concentration of Alu family members in the introns and flanking sequence of SPAST may predispose to intragenic rearrangements. Thus, Alu-specific microhomology-mediated intragenic rearrangements in SPAST may be a common cause of SPG4. Furthermore, we propose that genomic deletions encompassing the final exon of SPAST may affect expression of SLC30A6, the most proximal downstream locus and a gene that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease, potentially explaining recent reports of dementia in selected SPG4 patients.
PMCID: PMC3407413  PMID: 21659953
SPG4; spastin; intragenic rearrangements; exon mutations; FoSTeS

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