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1.  Facial Diagnosis of Mild and Variant CdLS: Insights From a Dysmorphologist Survey 
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a dominant disorder with classic severe forms and milder atypical variants. Central to making the diagnosis is identification of diagnostic facial features. With the recognition that patients with SMC1A and SMC3 mutations have milder, atypical features, we surveyed 65 dysmorphologists using facial photographs from 32 CdLS patients with the goals of (1) Illustrating examples of milder patients with SMC1A mutations and (2) Obtaining objective data to determine which facial features were useful and misleading in making a diagnosis of CdLS. Clinicians were surveyed whether the patient had CdLS or another diagnosis, the certainty of response and the clinical features used to support each response. Using only facial photographs, an average of 24 cases (75%) were accurately diagnosed per clinician. Correct diagnoses were made in 90% of classic CdLS and 87% of non-CdLS cases, however, only 54% of mild or variant CdLS were correctly diagnosed by respondents. We confirmed that CdLS is most accurately diagnosed in childhood and the diagnosis becomes increasingly difficult with age. This survey demonstrated that emphasis is placed on the eyebrows, nasal features, prominent upper lip and micrognathia. In addition, the presence of fuller, atypical eyebrows, a prominent nasal bridge and significant prognathism with age dissuaded survey takers from arriving at a diagnosis of CdLS in individuals with mild NIPBL and SMC1A mutations. This work underscores the difficulty in diagnosing patients with mild and variant CdLS and serves to objectively classify both useful and misleading features in the diagnosis of CdLS.
PMCID: PMC4133091  PMID: 20583156
Cornelia de Lange syndrome; Brachmann–de Lange syndrome; facial features; facies; NIPBL; SMC1; SMC1A; SMC1L1; SMC3; mild; severe; survey; dysmorphology
2.  Functional Characterization of NIPBL Physiological Splice Variants and Eight Splicing Mutations in Patients with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome 
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a congenital developmental disorder characterized by distinctive craniofacial features, growth retardation, cognitive impairment, limb defects, hirsutism, and multisystem involvement. Mutations in five genes encoding structural components (SMC1A, SMC3, RAD21) or functionally associated factors (NIPBL, HDAC8) of the cohesin complex have been found in patients with CdLS. In about 60% of the patients, mutations in NIPBL could be identified. Interestingly, 17% of them are predicted to change normal splicing, however, detailed molecular investigations are often missing. Here, we report the first systematic study of the physiological splicing of the NIPBL gene, that would reveal the identification of four new splicing isoforms ΔE10, ΔE12, ΔE33,34, and B’. Furthermore, we have investigated nine mutations affecting splice-sites in the NIPBL gene identified in twelve CdLS patients. All mutations have been examined on the DNA and RNA level, as well as by in silico analyses. Although patients with mutations affecting NIPBL splicing show a broad clinical variability, the more severe phenotypes seem to be associated with aberrant transcripts resulting in a shift of the reading frame.
PMCID: PMC4100155  PMID: 24918291
CdLS; NIPBL; splicing mutations; physiological splicing
3.  Molecular Testing for Fragile X: Analysis of 5062 Tests from 1105 Fragile X Families—Performed in 12 Clinical Laboratories in Spain 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:195793.
Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability. Here we report on a study based on a collaborative registry, involving 12 Spanish centres, of molecular diagnostic tests in 1105 fragile X families comprising 5062 individuals, of whom, 1655 carried a full mutation or were mosaic, three cases had deletions, 1840 had a premutation, and 102 had intermediate alleles. Two patients with the full mutation also had Klinefelter syndrome. We have used this registry to assess the risk of expansion from parents to children. From mothers with premutation, the overall rate of allele expansion to full mutation is 52.5%, and we found that this rate is higher for male than female offspring (63.6% versus 45.6%; P < 0.001). Furthermore, in mothers with intermediate alleles (45–54 repeats), there were 10 cases of expansion to a premutation allele, and for the smallest premutation alleles (55–59 repeats), there was a 6.4% risk of expansion to a full mutation, with 56 repeats being the smallest allele that expanded to a full mutation allele in a single meiosis. Hence, in our series the risk for alleles of <59 repeats is somewhat higher than in other published series. These findings are important for genetic counselling.
PMCID: PMC4058505  PMID: 24987673
4.  Ocular manifestations in Okihiro Syndrome 
Background and purpose
Two siblings diagnosed with Okihiro syndrome (also named Duane Radial Ray Syndrome) associated with ophthalmic manifestation including Duane syndrome and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) hypoplasia were presented.
The first patient (15-years old female) was diagnosed of Duane syndrome presenting reduction of visual acuity and pale optic discs. She showed a diffuse decrease in the RNFL thickness, mainly in her left eye, retaining the typical RNFL morphology as double hump, demonstrated by OCT and scanning laser polarimetry. Neurophysiology evaluation found a decrease in visual evoked potentials and pattern electroretinogram amplitudes, and an increase of the latency of P100 component. The second patient (12 year-old female) presented with Duane malformation. Both patients underwent a complete ophthalmic evaluation with best corrected visual acuity, visual field examination, optical coherence tomography (OCT), scanning laser polarimetry, visual evoked potentials, pattern electroretinogram, and genetic study.
The neuro-ophthalmic evaluation showed a subclinical reduction of RNFL average thickness provided by OCT and an increase of P50 and N95 latency by pattern electroretinogram. RNFL average thickness presented a score reduction in both patients, without typical glaucomatous morphology.
Our analyses suggest that Okihiro syndrome may affect retinal nerve fiber layer development and visual acuity.
PMCID: PMC3856715  PMID: 23234485
5.  CDKL5 gene status in female patients with epilepsy and Rett-like features: two new mutations in the catalytic domain 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:68.
Mutations in the cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 gene (CDKL5) located in the Xp22 region have been shown to cause a subset of atypical Rett syndrome with infantile spasms or early seizures starting in the first postnatal months.
We performed mutation screening of CDKL5 in 60 female patients who had been identified as negative for the methyl CpG-binding protein 2 gene (MECP2) mutations, but who had current or past epilepsy, regardless of the age of onset, type, and severity. All the exons in the CDKL5 gene and their neighbouring sequences were examined, and CDKL5 rearrangements were studied by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA).
Six previously unidentified DNA changes were detected, two of which were disease-causing mutations in the catalytic domain: a frameshift mutation (c.509_510insGT; p.Glu170GlyfsX36) and a complete deletion of exon 10. Both were found in patients with seizures that started in the first month of life.
This study demonstrated the importance of CDKL5 mutations as etiological factors in neurodevelopmental disorders, and indicated that a thorough analysis of the CDKL5 gene sequence and its rearrangements should be considered in females with Rett syndrome-like phenotypes, severe encephalopathy and epilepsy with onset before 5 months of age. This study also confirmed the usefulness of MLPA as a diagnostic screening method for use in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3489578  PMID: 22867051
CDKL5; Epilepsy; MECP2; MLPA; Rett syndrome
6.  Cornelia de Lange syndrome with NIPBL mutation and mosaic Turner syndrome in the same individual 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:43.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a dominantly inherited disorder characterized by facial dysmorphism, growth and cognitive impairment, limb malformations and multiple organ involvement. Mutations in NIPBL gene account for about 60% of patients with CdLS. This gene encodes a key regulator of the Cohesin complex, which controls sister chromatid segregation during both mitosis and meiosis. Turner syndrome (TS) results from the partial or complete absence of one of the X chromosomes, usually associated with congenital lymphedema, short stature, and gonadal dysgenesis.
Case presentation
Here we report a four-year-old female with CdLS due to a frameshift mutation in the NIPBL gene (c.1445_1448delGAGA), who also had a tissue-specific mosaic 45,X/46,XX karyotype. The patient showed a severe form of CdLS with craniofacial dysmorphism, pre- and post-natal growth delay, cardiovascular abnormalities, hirsutism and severe psychomotor retardation with behavioural problems. She also presented with minor clinical features consistent with TS, including peripheral lymphedema and webbed neck. The NIPBL mutation was present in the two tissues analysed from different embryonic origins (peripheral blood lymphocytes and oral mucosa epithelial cells). However, the percentage of cells with monosomy X was low and variable in tissues. These findings indicate that, ontogenically, the NIPBL mutation may have appeared before the mosaic monosomy X.
The coexistence in several patients of these two rare disorders raises the issue of whether there is indeed a cause-effect association. The detailed clinical descriptions indicate predominant CdLS phenotype, although additional TS manifestations may appear in adolescence.
PMCID: PMC3458943  PMID: 22676896
Cornelia de Lange syndrome; CdLS; NIPBL; Turner syndrome; TS; Monosomy X mosaicism; Mosaic 45,X/46,XX karyotype
7.  Mutations and Variants in the Cohesion factor genes NIPBL, SMC1A and SMC3 in a cohort of 30 unrelated patients with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome 
Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) and manifests facial dysmorphic features, growth and cognitive impairment, and limb malformations. Mutations in three genes (NIPBL, SMC1A and SMC3) of the Cohesin complex and its regulators have been found in affected patients. Here, we present clinical and molecular characterization of 30 unrelated patients with CdLS. Eleven patients had mutations NIPBL (37%) and three patients had mutations in SMC1A (10%), giving an overall rate of mutations of 47%. Several patients shared the same mutation in NIPBL (p.R827GfsX2) but had variable phenotypes, indicating the influence of modifiers in CdLS. Patients with NIPBL mutations had a more severe phenotype than those with mutations in SMC1A or those without identified mutations. However, a high incidence of palate defects was noted in patients with SMC1A mutations. In addition, we observed a similar phenotype in both male and female patients with SMC1A mutations. Finally, we report the first patient with an SMC1A mutation and the Sandifer complex.
PMCID: PMC2923429  PMID: 20358602
Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS); NIPBL; SMC1A; SMC3; genes; mutations
8.  Differential HMG-CoA lyase expression in human tissues provides clues about 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaric aciduria 
3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaric aciduria is a rare human autosomal recessive disorder caused by deficiency of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA lyase (HL). This mitochondrial enzyme catalyzes the common final step of leucine degradation and ketogenesis. Acute symptoms include vomiting, seizures and lethargy, accompanied by metabolic acidosis and hypoketotic hypoglycaemia. Such organs as the liver, brain, pancreas, and heart can also be involved. However, the pathophysiology of this disease is only partially understood. We measured mRNA levels, protein expression and enzyme activity of human HMG-CoA lyase from liver, kidney, pancreas, testis, heart, skeletal muscle, and brain. Surprisingly, the pancreas is, after the liver, the tissue with most HL activity. However, in heart and adult brain, HL activity was not detected in the mitochondrial fraction. These findings contribute to our understanding of the enzyme function and the consequences of its deficiency and suggest the need for assessment of pancreatic damage in these patients.
PMCID: PMC2903694  PMID: 20532825
9.  Severe infantile-onset cardiomyopathy associated with a homozygous deletion in desmin 
Neuromuscular disorders : NMD  2009;19(6):418-422.
Desminopathy is a genetically heterogeneous disorder with autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance in most affected families; the age of disease onset is on average 30 years. We studied a patient with a history of recurrent episodes of syncope from infancy who later developed second-degree AV block and restrictive cardiomyopathy; she subsequently suffered several episodes of ventricular tachyarrhythmia requiring implantation of bicameral defibrillator. Neurological examination revealed rapidly progressive bilateral facial weakness, winging of the scapulae, symmetric weakness and atrophy of the trunk muscles, shoulder girdle and distal muscles of both upper and lower extremities. Muscle biopsy demonstrated signs of myofibrillar myopathy with prominent subsarcolemmal desmin-reactive aggregates. Molecular analysis identified a homozygous deletion in DES resulting in a predicted in-frame obliteration of seven amino acids (p.R173_E179del) in the 1B domain of desmin. We describe the youngest known desminopathy patient with severe cardiomyopathy and aggressive course leading to the devastation of cardiac, skeletal and smooth musculature at an early age.
PMCID: PMC2695848  PMID: 19433360
Desmin mutation; restrictive cardiomyopathy; heart failure; skeletal myopathy; autosomal recessive inheritance
10.  Enlarged parietal foramina caused by mutations in the homeobox genes ALX4 and MSX2: from genotype to phenotype 
Heterozygous mutations of the homeobox genes ALX4 and MSX2 cause skull defects termed enlarged parietal foramina (PFM) and cranium bifidum (CB); a single MSX2 mutation has been documented in a unique craniosynostosis (CRS) family. However, the relative mutational contribution of these genes to PFM/CB and CRS is not known and information on genotype–phenotype correlations is incomplete. We analysed ALX4 and MSX2 in 11 new unrelated cases or families with PFM/CB, 181 cases of CRS, and a single family segregating a submicroscopic deletion of 11p11.2, including ALX4. We explored the correlations between skull defect size and age, gene, and mutation type, and reviewed additional phenotypic manifestations. Four PFM cases had mutations in either ALX4 or MSX2; including previous families, we have identified six ALX4 and six MSX2 mutations, accounting for 11/13 familial, but only 1/6 sporadic cases. The deletion family confirms the delineation of a mental retardation locus to within 1.1 Mb region of 11p11.2. Overall, no significant size difference was found between ALX4- and MSX2-related skull defects, but the ALX4 mutation p.R218Q tends to result in persistent CB and is associated with anatomical abnormalities of the posterior fossa. We conclude that PFM caused by mutations in ALX4 and MSX2 have a similar prevalence and are usually clinically indistinguishable. Mutation screening has a high pickup rate in PFM, especially in familial cases, but is not indicated in CRS.
PMCID: PMC1477589  PMID: 16319823
enlarged parietal foramina; craniosynostosis; proximal 11p deletion syndrome; mental retardation

Results 1-10 (10)