To determine the genetic cause of congenital ptosis, ophthalmoplegia, facial paralysis and mild hypotonia segregating in two pedigrees diagnosed with atypical Moebius syndrome or congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles (CFEOM).
Homozygosity mapping and whole-exome sequencing were conducted to identify causative mutations in affected family members. Histories, physical examinations, and clinical data were reviewed.
Missense mutations resulting in two homozygous RYR1 amino acid substitutions (E989G and R3772W) and two compound heterozygous RYR1 substitutions (H283R and R3772W) were identified in a consanguineous and a non-consanguineous pedigree, respectively. Orbital magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed marked hypoplasia of extraocular muscles and intraorbital cranial nerves. Skeletal muscle biopsies revealed non-specific myopathic changes. Clinically, the patients’ ophthalmoplegia and facial weakness were far more significant than their hypotonia and limb weakness, and were accompanied by an unrecognized susceptibility to malignant hyperthermia.
Affected children presenting with severe congenital ophthalmoplegia and facial weakness in the setting of only mild skeletal myopathy harbored recessive mutations in RYR1, encoding the ryanodine receptor 1, and were susceptible to malignant hyperthermia. While ophthalmoplegia occurs rarely in RYR1-related myopathies, these children were atypical because they lacked significant weakness, respiratory insufficiency, or scoliosis.
RYR1-associated myopathies should be included in the differential diagnosis of congenital ophthalmoplegia and facial weakness, even without clinical skeletal myopathy. These patients should also be considered susceptible to malignant hyperthermia, a life-threatening anesthetic complication avoidable if anticipated pre-surgically.