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1.  TECRL, a new life‐threatening inherited arrhythmia gene associated with overlapping clinical features of both LQTS and CPVT  
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2016;8(12):1390-1408.
Genetic causes of many familial arrhythmia syndromes remain elusive. In this study, whole‐exome sequencing (WES) was carried out on patients from three different families that presented with life‐threatening arrhythmias and high risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Two French Canadian probands carried identical homozygous rare variant in TECRL gene (p.Arg196Gln), which encodes the trans‐2,3‐enoyl‐CoA reductase‐like protein. Both patients had cardiac arrest, stress‐induced atrial and ventricular tachycardia, and QT prolongation on adrenergic stimulation. A third patient from a consanguineous Sudanese family diagnosed with catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) had a homozygous splice site mutation (c.331+1G>A) in TECRL. Analysis of intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) dynamics in human induced pluripotent stem cell‐derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC‐CMs) generated from this individual (TECRLH om‐hiPSCs), his heterozygous but clinically asymptomatic father (TECRLH et‐hiPSCs), and a healthy individual (CTRL‐hiPSCs) from the same Sudanese family, revealed smaller [Ca2+]i transient amplitudes as well as elevated diastolic [Ca2+]i in TECRLH om‐hiPSC‐CMs compared with CTRL‐hiPSC‐CMs. The [Ca2+]i transient also rose markedly slower and contained lower sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) calcium stores, evidenced by the decreased magnitude of caffeine‐induced [Ca2+]i transients. In addition, the decay phase of the [Ca2+]i transient was slower in TECRLH om‐hiPSC‐CMs due to decreased SERCA and NCX activities. Furthermore, TECRLH om‐hiPSC‐CMs showed prolonged action potentials (APs) compared with CTRL‐hiPSC‐CMs. TECRL knockdown in control human embryonic stem cell‐derived CMs (hESC‐CMs) also resulted in significantly longer APs. Moreover, stimulation by noradrenaline (NA) significantly increased the propensity for triggered activity based on delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs) in TECRLH om‐hiPSC‐CMs and treatment with flecainide, a class Ic antiarrhythmic drug, significantly reduced the triggered activity in these cells. In summary, we report that mutations in TECRL are associated with inherited arrhythmias characterized by clinical features of both LQTS and CPVT. Patient‐specific hiPSC‐CMs recapitulated salient features of the clinical phenotype and provide a platform for drug screening evidenced by initial identification of flecainide as a potential therapeutic. These findings have implications for diagnosis and treatment of inherited cardiac arrhythmias.
PMCID: PMC5167130  PMID: 27861123
Arrhythmia; CPVT; iPSC; LQTS; SRD5A2L2; Cardiovascular System; Genetics, Gene Therapy & Genetic Disease
2.  A homozygous splicing mutation in ELAC2 suggests phenotypic variability including intellectual disability with minimal cardiac involvement 
The group of ELAC2-related encephalomyopathies is a recent addition to the rapidly growing heterogeneous mitochondrial disorders.
We describe a highly inbred consanguineous Pakistani family with multiple affected children in 2 branches exhibiting moderately severe global developmental delay. Using homozygosity mapping, we mapped the phenotype in this family to a single locus on chromosome 17. In addition, whole-exome sequencing identified a homozygous splicing mutation (c.1423 + 2 T > A) in ELAC2 gene that disrupted the canonical donor splice site of intron 15 of all known isoforms. A noticeable reduction in ELAC2 expression was observed in patients compared to controls. In addition, patients exhibited significantly increased levels of 5′ end unprocessed mt-RNAs compared to the control fibroblast cells.
The only three previously reported families with defects in ELAC2 gene exhibited infantile hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and complex I deficiency. In contrast, our patients exhibited intellectual disability as the main feature with minimal cardiac involvement. Therefore our findings expand the phenotypic spectrum of ELAC2- associated disorders illustrating clinical heterogeneity of mutations in this gene. In addition, ELAC2 mutations should be considered when evaluating patient with mainly intellectual disability phenotypes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13023-016-0526-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5073853  PMID: 27769300
ELAC2; Mitochondrial disorder; 5′ end unprocessed mt-RNAs; Splice site mutation; Intellectual disability; Respiratory chain complex I (RCCI) deficiency
3.  Mutations in CEP120 cause Joubert syndrome as well as complex ciliopathy phenotypes 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2016;53(9):608-615.
Ciliopathies are an extensive group of autosomal recessive or X-linked disorders with considerable genetic and clinical overlap, which collectively share multiple organ involvement and may result in lethal or viable phenotypes. In large numbers of cases the genetic defect remains yet to be determined. The aim of this study is to describe the mutational frequency and phenotypic spectrum of the CEP120 gene.
Exome sequencing was performed in 145 patients with Joubert syndrome (JS), including 15 children with oral-facial-digital syndrome type VI (OFDVI) and 21 Meckel syndrome (MKS) fetuses. Moreover, exome sequencing was performed in one fetus with tectocerebellar dysraphia with occipital encephalocele (TCDOE), molar tooth sign and additional skeletal abnormalities. As a parallel study, 346 probands with a phenotype consistent with JS or related ciliopathies underwent next-generation sequencing-based targeted sequencing of 120 previously described and candidate ciliopathy genes.
We present six probands carrying nine distinct mutations (of which eight are novel) in the CEP120 gene, previously found mutated only in Jeune asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy (JATD). The CEP120-associated phenotype ranges from mild classical JS in four patients to more severe conditions in two fetuses, with overlapping features of distinct ciliopathies that include TCDOE, MKS, JATD and OFD syndromes. No obvious correlation is evident between the type or location of identified mutations and the ciliopathy phenotype.
Our findings broaden the spectrum of phenotypes caused by CEP120 mutations that account for nearly 1% of patients with JS as well as for more complex ciliopathy phenotypes. The lack of clear genotype–phenotype correlation highlights the relevance of comprehensive genetic analyses in the diagnostics of ciliopathies.
PMCID: PMC5013089  PMID: 27208211
Clinical genetics; Developmental; Genetics; Molecular genetics; Neurosciences
5.  Asparagine synthetase deficiency detected by whole exome sequencing causes congenital microcephaly, epileptic encephalopathy and psychomotor delay 
Metabolic brain disease  2014;30(3):687-694.
Deficiency of Asparagine Synthetase (ASNSD, MIM 615574) is a very rare autosomal recessive disorder presenting with some brain abnormalities. Affected individuals have congenital microcephaly and progressive encephalopathy associated with severe intellectual disability and intractable seizures. The loss of function of the asparagine synthetase (ASNS, EC, particularly in the brain, is the major cause of this particular congenital microcephaly. In this study, we clinically evaluated an affected child from a consanguineous Emirati family presenting with congenital microcephaly and epileptic encephalopathy. In addition, whole-exome sequencing revealed a novel homozygous substitution mutation (c.1193A>C) in the ASNS gene. This mutation resulted in the substitution of highly conserved tyrosine residue by cysteine (p.Y398C). Molecular modeling analysis predicts hypomorphic and damaging effects of this mutation on the protein structure and altering its enzymatic activity. Therefore, we conclude that the loss of ASNS function is most likely the cause of this condition in the studied family. This report brings the number of reported families with this very rare disorder to five and the number of pathogenic mutations in the ASNS gene to four. This finding extends the ASNS pathogenic mutations spectrum and highlights the utility of whole-exome sequencing in elucidation the causes of rare recessive disorders that are heterogeneous and/or overlap with other conditions.
PMCID: PMC4915861  PMID: 25227173
Asparagine synthetase deficiency; ASNS; WES; Microcephaly; Epileptic encephalopathy; Hypomorphic mutation
6.  A novel de novo mutation in DYNC1H1 gene underlying malformation of cortical development and cataract 
Meta Gene  2016;9:124-127.
Mutations in DYNC1H1, the gene encoding the largest cytoplasmic dynein, have been associated with a wide spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders. In this study, we describe a child in whom a novel de novo likely pathogenic variant in the motor domain of DYCN1H1 was identified through whole exome sequencing. The affected child presented with severe neurological symptoms and more extensive cortical malformations compared to previously reported cases with mutations in this gene, including diffuse pachygyria-lissencephaly and bilateral symmetric subcortical gray matter heterotopia. A more distinct aspect of the phenotype in this child is the presence of cataract in infancy. So far, only acquired bilateral cataract in adulthood has been described in this disorder in a patient with a much milder neurological phenotype. These findings could extend the phenotype associated with defective DYNC1H1 and suggest a possible important role in human ocular development.
•WES identified a novel variant in DYNC1H1 most likely to cause malformation of cortical development and cataract in a child from UAE.•Untolerated amino acid substitutions in highly conserved residues should not be ignored even if the variant arose de novo in the patient.•WES is an efficient tool in identifying disease causing genes.
PMCID: PMC4908276  PMID: 27331017
DYNC1H1; Intellectual disability; Cortical malformation; Cataract
8.  Whole Exome Sequencing identifies a splicing mutation in NSUN2 as a cause of a Dubowitz-like syndrome 
Journal of medical genetics  2012;49(6):380-385.
Dubowitz Syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the constellation of mild microcephaly, growth and mental retardation, eczema and peculiar facies, but causes are still unknown. We studied a multiplex consanguineous family with many features of Dubowitz syndrome using whole exome sequencing and identified a splice mutation in NSUN2, encoding a conserved RNA methyltransferase. NSUN2 has been implicated in Myc-induced cell proliferation and mitotic spindle stability, which might help explain the varied clinical presentations that can include chromosomal instability and immunological defects. Patient cells displayed loss of NSUN2-specific methylation at two residues of the aspartate tRNA. Our findings establish NSUN2 as the first causal gene with relationship to the Dubowitz syndrome spectrum phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4771841  PMID: 22577224
Dubowitz; NSUN2; MISU; RNA methylation; microcephaly
9.  EPG5-related Vici syndrome: a paradigm of neurodevelopmental disorders with defective autophagy 
Brain  2016;139(3):765-781.
Vici syndrome is a progressive neurodevelopmental multisystem disorder caused by mutations in the autophagy gene EPG5. Byrne et al. characterise the phenotype of 50 affected children, revealing callosal agenesis, cataracts, hypopigmentation, cardiomyopathy, immune dysfunction, developmental delay and microcephaly. Downregulation of epg5 in Drosophila results in autophagic abnormalities and progressive neurodegeneration.
Vici syndrome is a progressive neurodevelopmental multisystem disorder caused by mutations in the autophagy gene EPG5. Byrne et al. characterise the phenotype of 50 affected children, revealing callosal agenesis, cataracts, hypopigmentation, cardiomyopathy, immune dysfunction, developmental delay and microcephaly. Downregulation of epg5 in Drosophila results in autophagic abnormalities and progressive neurodegeneration.
Vici syndrome is a progressive neurodevelopmental multisystem disorder due to recessive mutations in the key autophagy gene EPG5. We report genetic, clinical, neuroradiological, and neuropathological features of 50 children from 30 families, as well as the neuronal phenotype of EPG5 knock-down in Drosophila melanogaster. We identified 39 different EPG5 mutations, most of them truncating and predicted to result in reduced EPG5 protein. Most mutations were private, but three recurrent mutations (p.Met2242Cysfs*5, p.Arg417*, and p.Gln336Arg) indicated possible founder effects. Presentation was mainly neonatal, with marked hypotonia and feeding difficulties. In addition to the five principal features (callosal agenesis, cataracts, hypopigmentation, cardiomyopathy, and immune dysfunction), we identified three equally consistent features (profound developmental delay, progressive microcephaly, and failure to thrive). The manifestation of all eight of these features has a specificity of 97%, and a sensitivity of 89% for the presence of an EPG5 mutation and will allow informed decisions about genetic testing. Clinical progression was relentless and many children died in infancy. Survival analysis demonstrated a median survival time of 24 months (95% confidence interval 0–49 months), with only a 10th of patients surviving to 5 years of age. Survival outcomes were significantly better in patients with compound heterozygous mutations (P = 0.046), as well as in patients with the recurrent p.Gln336Arg mutation. Acquired microcephaly and regression of skills in long-term survivors suggests a neurodegenerative component superimposed on the principal neurodevelopmental defect. Two-thirds of patients had a severe seizure disorder, placing EPG5 within the rapidly expanding group of genes associated with early-onset epileptic encephalopathies. Consistent neuroradiological features comprised structural abnormalities, in particular callosal agenesis and pontine hypoplasia, delayed myelination and, less frequently, thalamic signal intensity changes evolving over time. Typical muscle biopsy features included fibre size variability, central/internal nuclei, abnormal glycogen storage, presence of autophagic vacuoles and secondary mitochondrial abnormalities. Nerve biopsy performed in one case revealed subtotal absence of myelinated axons. Post-mortem examinations in three patients confirmed neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative features and multisystem involvement. Finally, downregulation of epg5 (CG14299) in Drosophila resulted in autophagic abnormalities and progressive neurodegeneration. We conclude that EPG5-related Vici syndrome defines a novel group of neurodevelopmental disorders that should be considered in patients with suggestive features in whom mitochondrial, glycogen, or lysosomal storage disorders have been excluded. Neurological progression over time indicates an intriguing link between neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration, also supported by neurodegenerative features in epg5-deficient Drosophila, and recent implication of other autophagy regulators in late-onset neurodegenerative disease.
PMCID: PMC4766378  PMID: 26917586
EPG5; ectopic P granules autophagy protein 5; Vici syndrome; neurodevelopment; neurodegeneration; callosal agenesis
10.  Biallelic mutations in SNX14 cause a syndromic form of cerebellar atrophy and lysosome-autophagosome dysfunction 
Nature genetics  2015;47(5):528-534.
Pediatric-onset ataxias often present clinically with developmental delay and intellectual disability, with prominent cerebellar atrophy as a key neuroradiographic finding. Here we describe a novel clinically distinguishable recessive syndrome in 12 families with cerebellar atrophy together with ataxia, coarsened facial features and intellectual disability, due to truncating mutations in sorting nexin 14 (SNX14), encoding a ubiquitously expressed modular PX-domain-containing sorting factor. We found SNX14 localized to lysosomes, and associated with phosphatidyl-inositol (3,5)P2, a key component of late endosomes/lysosomes. Patient cells showed engorged lysosomes and slower autophagosome clearance rate upon starvation induction. Zebrafish morphants showed dramatic loss of cerebellar parenchyma, accumulated autophagosomes, and activation of apoptosis. Our results suggest a unique ataxia syndrome due to biallelic SNX14 mutations, leading to lysosome-autophagosome dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4414867  PMID: 25848753
11.  Centriolar satellites assemble centrosomal microcephaly proteins to recruit CDK2 and promote centriole duplication 
eLife  null;4:e07519.
Primary microcephaly (MCPH) associated proteins CDK5RAP2, CEP152, WDR62 and CEP63 colocalize at the centrosome. We found that they interact to promote centriole duplication and form a hierarchy in which each is required to localize another to the centrosome, with CDK5RAP2 at the apex, and CEP152, WDR62 and CEP63 at sequentially lower positions. MCPH proteins interact with distinct centriolar satellite proteins; CDK5RAP2 interacts with SPAG5 and CEP72, CEP152 with CEP131, WDR62 with MOONRAKER, and CEP63 with CEP90 and CCDC14. These satellite proteins localize their cognate MCPH interactors to centrosomes and also promote centriole duplication. Consistent with a role for satellites in microcephaly, homozygous mutations in one satellite gene, CEP90, may cause MCPH. The satellite proteins, with the exception of CCDC14, and MCPH proteins promote centriole duplication by recruiting CDK2 to the centrosome. Thus, centriolar satellites build a MCPH complex critical for human neurodevelopment that promotes CDK2 centrosomal localization and centriole duplication.
eLife digest
When a cell divides, the chromosomes that contain the genetic blueprint for the cell must be replicated and shared between the two new cells. A structure called the centrosome organizes the cellular machinery that separates the chromosome copies during cell division. At the center of each centrosome are two cylindrical microtubule-based structures called centrioles.
Mutations in certain proteins that interact with the centrosome cause a neurodevelopmental disorder called primary microcephaly. People born with microcephaly have unusually small heads and brains. As a result, they may have difficulties with mental tasks. Scientists do not know exactly how these ‘microcephaly-associated’ proteins normally interact with the centrosomes or what they do at the centrosomes, so it is difficult to work out what goes wrong in people with microcephaly. One idea is that the proteins help to duplicate the centrioles before a cell divides. If this duplication does not occur, a cell cannot divide properly; so, people with mutations that interfere with centriole duplication cannot grow enough brain cells.
Now, Kodani et al. have examined how these microcephaly-associated proteins work with ‘satellite’ proteins that congregate near the centrosome to duplicate centrioles. The satellite proteins help to recruit four microcephaly-associated proteins to the centrosome, where they are built into a ring. The microcephaly-associated proteins congregate at the centrosome in a particular order, with each protein recruiting the next one in the sequence. Once all four are in place near the centrosome, an enzyme that helps to duplicate the centrioles joins them.
Further experiments suggest that mutations that affect one of the satellite proteins—known as CEP90—may cause microcephaly. Future analysis of how microcephaly-associated genes work may reveal the cell biological mechanisms by which centrioles participate in brain development.
PMCID: PMC4574112  PMID: 26297806
centriole; microcephaly; centrosome; centriolar satellite; cell cycle; brain development; human
12.  METTL23, a transcriptional partner of GABPA, is essential for human cognition 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(13):3456-3466.
Whereas many genes associated with intellectual disability (ID) encode synaptic proteins, transcriptional defects leading to ID are less well understood. We studied a large, consanguineous pedigree of Arab origin with seven members affected with ID and mild dysmorphic features. Homozygosity mapping and linkage analysis identified a candidate region on chromosome 17 with a maximum multipoint logarithm of odds score of 6.01. Targeted high-throughput sequencing of the exons in the candidate region identified a homozygous 4-bp deletion (c.169_172delCACT) in the METTL23 (methyltransferase like 23) gene, which is predicted to result in a frameshift and premature truncation (p.His57Valfs*11). Overexpressed METTL23 protein localized to both nucleus and cytoplasm, and physically interacted with GABPA (GA-binding protein transcription factor, alpha subunit). GABP, of which GABPA is a component, is known to regulate the expression of genes such as THPO (thrombopoietin) and ATP5B (ATP synthase, H+ transporting, mitochondrial F1 complex, beta polypeptide) and is implicated in a wide variety of important cellular functions. Overexpression of METTL23 resulted in increased transcriptional activity at the THPO promoter, whereas knockdown of METTL23 with siRNA resulted in decreased expression of ATP5B, thus revealing the importance of METTL23 as a regulator of GABPA function. The METTL23 mutation highlights a new transcriptional pathway underlying human intellectual function.
PMCID: PMC4049305  PMID: 24501276
13.  TCTEX1D2 mutations underlie Jeune asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy with impaired retrograde intraflagellar transport 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7074.
The analysis of individuals with ciliary chondrodysplasias can shed light on sensitive mechanisms controlling ciliogenesis and cell signalling that are essential to embryonic development and survival. Here we identify TCTEX1D2 mutations causing Jeune asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy with partially penetrant inheritance. Loss of TCTEX1D2 impairs retrograde intraflagellar transport (IFT) in humans and the protist Chlamydomonas, accompanied by destabilization of the retrograde IFT dynein motor. We thus define TCTEX1D2 as an integral component of the evolutionarily conserved retrograde IFT machinery. In complex with several IFT dynein light chains, it is required for correct vertebrate skeletal formation but may be functionally redundant under certain conditions.
Severe congenital development defects such as Jeune syndrome can result from the malfunction of primary cilia and dynein. Here Schmidts et al. report unique biallelic null mutations in a gene encoding a dynein light chain, helping to explain the nature of ciliopathies in human patients.
PMCID: PMC4468853  PMID: 26044572
14.  A novel disorder reveals clathrin heavy chain-22 is essential for human pain and touch development 
Brain  2015;138(8):2147-2160.
Congenital inability to feel pain is rare, but the identification of causative genes is translating into the development of novel analgesics. Nahorski et al. describe insensitivity to pain caused by mutations affecting the second clathrin heavy chain (CHC22), and reveal a role for CHC22 in pain and touch development.
Congenital inability to feel pain is rare, but the identification of causative genes is translating into the development of novel analgesics. Nahorski et al. describe insensitivity to pain caused by mutations affecting the second clathrin heavy chain (CHC22), and reveal a role for CHC22 in pain and touch development.
Congenital inability to feel pain is very rare but the identification of causative genes has yielded significant insights into pain pathways and also novel targets for pain treatment. We report a novel recessive disorder characterized by congenital insensitivity to pain, inability to feel touch, and cognitive delay. Affected individuals harboured a homozygous missense mutation in CLTCL1 encoding the CHC22 clathrin heavy chain, p.E330K, which we demonstrate to have a functional effect on the protein. We found that CLTCL1 is significantly upregulated in the developing human brain, displaying an expression pattern suggestive of an early neurodevelopmental role. Guided by the disease phenotype, we investigated the role of CHC22 in two human neural crest differentiation systems; human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived nociceptors and TRKB-dependant SH-SY5Y cells. In both there was a significant downregulation of CHC22 upon the onset of neural differentiation. Furthermore, knockdown of CHC22 induced neurite outgrowth in neural precursor cells, which was rescued by stable overexpression of small interfering RNA-resistant CHC22, but not by mutant CHC22. Similarly, overexpression of wild-type, but not mutant, CHC22 blocked neurite outgrowth in cells treated with retinoic acid. These results reveal an essential and non-redundant role for CHC22 in neural crest development and in the genesis of pain and touch sensing neurons.
PMCID: PMC4511860  PMID: 26068709
insensitivity to pain; clathrin; endosomal trafficking; neurogenesis
16.  An Integrative Computational Approach for Prioritization of Genomic Variants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114903.
An essential step in the discovery of molecular mechanisms contributing to disease phenotypes and efficient experimental planning is the development of weighted hypotheses that estimate the functional effects of sequence variants discovered by high-throughput genomics. With the increasing specialization of the bioinformatics resources, creating analytical workflows that seamlessly integrate data and bioinformatics tools developed by multiple groups becomes inevitable. Here we present a case study of a use of the distributed analytical environment integrating four complementary specialized resources, namely the Lynx platform, VISTA RViewer, the Developmental Brain Disorders Database (DBDB), and the RaptorX server, for the identification of high-confidence candidate genes contributing to pathogenesis of spina bifida. The analysis resulted in prediction and validation of deleterious mutations in the SLC19A placental transporter in mothers of the affected children that causes narrowing of the outlet channel and therefore leads to the reduced folate permeation rate. The described approach also enabled correct identification of several genes, previously shown to contribute to pathogenesis of spina bifida, and suggestion of additional genes for experimental validations. The study demonstrates that the seamless integration of bioinformatics resources enables fast and efficient prioritization and characterization of genomic factors and molecular networks contributing to the phenotypes of interest.
PMCID: PMC4266634  PMID: 25506935
17.  Mutation spectrum of Joubert syndrome and related disorders among Arabs 
Human Genome Variation  2014;1:14020-.
Joubert syndrome (JS) is a rare autosomal recessive (AR), neurological condition characterized by dysgenesis of the cerebellar vermis with the radiological hallmark of molar tooth sign, oculomotor apraxia, recurrent hyperventilation and intellectual disability. Most cases display a broad spectrum of additional features, including polydactyly, retinal dystrophy and renal abnormalities, which define different subtypes of JS-related disorders (JSRDs). To date, 23 genes have been shown to cause JSRDs, and although most of the identified genes encode proteins involved in cilia function or assembly, the molecular mechanisms associated with ciliary signaling remain enigmatic. Arab populations are ethnically diverse with high levels of consanguinity (20–60%) and a high prevalence of AR disorders. In addition, isolated communities with very-high levels of inbreeding and founder mutations are common. In this article, we review the 70 families reported thus far with JS and JSRDs that have been studied at the molecular level from all the Arabic countries and compile the mutations found. We show that JS and the related JSRDs are genetically heterogeneous in Arabs, with 53 mutations in 15 genes. Thirteen of these mutations are potentially founder mutations for the region.
PMCID: PMC4785524  PMID: 27081510
18.  Genomic analysis of Meckel–Gruber syndrome in Arabs reveals marked genetic heterogeneity and novel candidate genes 
Meckel–Gruber syndrome (MKS, OMIM #249000) is a multiple congenital malformation syndrome that represents the severe end of the ciliopathy phenotypic spectrum. Despite the relatively common occurrence of this syndrome among Arabs, little is known about its genetic architecture in this population. This is a series of 18 Arab families with MKS, who were evaluated clinically and studied using autozygome-guided mutation analysis and exome sequencing. We show that autozygome-guided candidate gene analysis identified the underlying mutation in the majority (n=12, 71%). Exome sequencing revealed a likely pathogenic mutation in three novel candidate MKS disease genes. These include C5orf42, Ellis–van-Creveld disease gene EVC2 and SEC8 (also known as EXOC4), which encodes an exocyst protein with an established role in ciliogenesis. This is the largest and most comprehensive genomic study on MKS in Arabs and the results, in addition to revealing genetic and allelic heterogeneity, suggest that previously reported disease genes and the novel candidates uncovered by this study account for the overwhelming majority of MKS patients in our population.
PMCID: PMC3722952  PMID: 23169490
autozygome; ciliopathy; encephalocele; EVC2; EXOC4
19.  A novel mutation in DDR2 causing spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia with short limbs and abnormal calcifications (SMED-SL) results in defective intra-cellular trafficking 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:42.
The rare autosomal genetic disorder, Spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia with short limbs and abnormal calcifications (SMED-SL), is reported to be caused by missense or splice site mutations in the human discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR2) gene. Previously our group has established that trafficking defects and loss of ligand binding are the underlying cellular mechanisms of several SMED-SL causing mutations. Here we report the clinical characteristics of two siblings of consanguineous marriage with suspected SMED-SL and identification of a novel disease-causing mutation in the DDR2 gene.
Clinical evaluation and radiography were performed to evaluate the patients. All the coding exons and splice sites of the DDR2 gene were sequenced by Sanger sequencing. Subcellular localization of the mutated DDR2 protein was determined by confocal microscopy, deglycosylation assay and Western blotting. DDR2 activity was measured by collagen activation and Western analysis.
In addition to the typical features of SMED-SL, one of the patients has an eye phenotype including visual impairment due to optic atrophy. DNA sequencing revealed a novel homozygous dinucleotide deletion mutation (c.2468_2469delCT) on exon 18 of the DDR2 gene in both patients. The mutation resulted in a frameshift leading to an amino acid change at position S823 and a predicted premature termination of translation (p.S823Cfs*2). Subcellular localization of the mutant protein was analyzed in mammalian cell lines, and it was found to be largely retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which was further supported by its N-glycosylation profile. In keeping with its cellular mis-localization, the mutant protein was found to be deficient in collagen-induced receptor activation, suggesting protein trafficking defects as the major cellular mechanism underlying the loss of DDR2 function in our patients.
Our results indicate that the novel mutation results in defective trafficking of the DDR2 protein leading to loss of function and disease. This confirms our previous findings that DDR2 missense mutations occurring at the kinase domain result in retention of the mutant protein in the ER.
PMCID: PMC4001364  PMID: 24725993
DDR2; Spondylo-meta-epiphyseal dysplasia; Trafficking defect; SMED-SL; ERAD; Optic atrophy
20.  Delineation of the Clinical, Molecular and Cellular Aspects of Novel JAM3 Mutations Underlying the Autosomal Recessive Hemorrhagic Destruction of the Brain, Subependymal Calcification and Congenital Cataracts 
Human mutation  2013;34(3):498-505.
We have recently shown that the hemorrhagic destruction of the brain, subependymal calcification and congenital cataracts is caused by biallelic mutations in the gene encoding junctional adhesion molecule 3 (JAM3) protein. Affected members from three new families underwent detailed clinical examination including imaging of the brain. Affected individuals presented with a distinctive phenotype comprising hemorrhagic destruction of the brain, subependymal calcification and congenital cataracts. All patients had a catastrophic clinical course resulting in death in 7 out of 10 affected individuals. Sequencing the coding exons of JAM3 revealed three novel homozygous mutations: c.2T>G (p.M1R), c.346G>A (p.E116K) and c.656G>A (p.C219Y). The p.M1R mutation affects the start codon and therefore is predicted to impair protein synthesis. Cellular studies showed that the p.C219Y mutation resulted in a significant retention of the mutated protein in the endoplasmic reticulum, suggesting a trafficking defect. The p.E116K mutant traffics normally to the plasma membrane as the wild type and may have lost its function due to the lack of interaction with an interacting partner. Our data further support the importance of JAM3 in the development and function of the vascular system and the brain.
PMCID: PMC3951164  PMID: 23255084
brain; subependymal calcification; congenital cataract; JAM3
21.  LINS, a modulator of the WNT signaling pathway, is involved in human cognition 
Inherited intellectual disability (ID) conditions are a group of genetically heterogeneous disorders that lead to variable degrees of cognition deficits. It has been shown that inherited ID can be caused by mutations in over 100 different genes and there is evidence for the presence of as yet unidentified genes in a significant proportion of patients. We aimed at identifying the defective gene underlying an autosomal recessive ID in two sibs of an Emirati family.
A combined approach involving homozygosity mapping and whole-exome sequencing was used to identify the causative mutation. RNA analysis was performed to gain further insight into the pathogenic effect of the detected mutation.
We have identified a homozygous splicing mutation (c.1219_1222+1delAAAGG) in the LINS gene in the affected children. LINS is the human homologue of the Drosophila segment polarity gene lin that encodes an essential regulator of the wingless/Wnt signaling. The identified mutation alters the first consensus nucleotide of the 5' donor splice junction of intron 5 and the 3' end of exon 5. Transcript analysis revealed that this change leads to an exon skipping event resulting in direct splicing of exon 4 to exon 6. Another mutation in LINS has been described very briefly in an Iranian family with autosomal recessive ID and microcephaly.
Our study confirms that LINS, a modulator of the WNT pathway, is an indispensable gene to human cognition and this finding sheds further light on the importance of WNT signaling in human brain development and/or function.
PMCID: PMC3847167  PMID: 23773660
22.  Evolutionarily Assembled cis-Regulatory Module at a Human Ciliopathy Locus 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;335(6071):966-969.
Neighboring genes are often coordinately expressed within cis-regulatory modules, but evidence that nonparalogous genes share functions in mammals is lacking. Here, we report that mutation of either TMEM138 or TMEM216 causes a phenotypically indistinguishable human ciliopathy, Joubert syndrome. Despite a lack of sequence homology, the genes are aligned in a head-to-tail configuration and joined by chromosomal rearrangement at the amphibian-to-reptile evolutionary transition. Expression of the two genes is mediated by a conserved regulatory element in the noncoding intergenic region. Coordinated expression is important for their interdependent cellular role in vesicular transport to primary cilia. Hence, during vertebrate evolution of genes involved in ciliogenesis, nonparalogous genes were arranged to a functional gene cluster with shared regulatory elements.
PMCID: PMC3671610  PMID: 22282472
23.  Identification of Mutations Underlying 20 Inborn Errors of Metabolism in the United Arab Emirates Population 
Inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) are frequently encountered by physicians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, the mutations underlying a large number of these disorders have not yet been determined. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify the mutations underlying a number of IEM disorders among UAE residents from both national and expatriate families. A case series of patients from 34 families attending the metabolic clinic at Tawam Hospital were clinically evaluated, and molecular testing was carried out to determine their causative mutations. The mutation analysis was carried out at molecular genetics diagnostic laboratories. Thirty-eight mutations have been identified as responsible for twenty IEM disorders, including in the metabolism of amino acids, lipids, steroids, metal transport and mitochondrial energy metabolism, and lysosomal storage disorders. Nine of the identified mutations are novel, including two missense mutations, three premature stop codons and four splice site mutations. Mutation analysis of IEM disorders in the UAE population has an important impact on molecular diagnosis and genetic counseling for families affected by these disorders.
PMCID: PMC3354585  PMID: 22106832
24.  In search of triallelism in Bardet–Biedl syndrome 
Bardet–Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a model disease for ciliopathy in humans. The remarkable genetic heterogeneity that characterizes this disease is consistent with accumulating data on the interaction between the proteins encoded by the 14 BBS genes identified to date. Previous reports suggested that such interaction may also extend to instances of oligogenic inheritance in the form of triallelism which defies the long held view of BBS as an autosomal recessive disease. In order to investigate the magnitude of triallelism in BBS, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of all 14 BBS genes as well as the CCDC28B-modifier gene in a cohort of 29 BBS families, most of which are multiplex. Two in trans mutations in a BBS gene were identified in each of these families for a total of 20 mutations including 12 that are novel. In no instance did we observe two mutations in unaffected members of a given family, or observe the presence of a third allele that convincingly acted as a modifier of penetrance and supported the triallelic model of BBS. In addition to presenting a comprehensive genotype/phenotype overview of a large set of BBS mutations, including the occurrence of nonsyndromic retinitis pigmentosa in a family with a novel BBS9 mutation, our study argues in favor of straightforward autosomal recessive BBS in most cases.
PMCID: PMC3306854  PMID: 22353939
epistasis; oligogenic; penetrance; modifiers

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