To explore the potential contribution of genetic variation in voltage-gated chloride channels to epilepsy, we analyzed CLCN family (CLCN1-7) gene variant profiles in individuals with complex idiopathic epilepsy syndromes and determined the expression of these channels in human and murine brain.
We used parallel exomic sequencing of 237 ion channel subunit genes to screen individuals with a clinical diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy and evaluate the distribution of missense variants in CLCN genes in cases and controls. We examined regional expression of CLCN1 in human and mouse brain using reverse transcriptase PCR, in situ hybridization, and Western immunoblotting.
We found that in 152 individuals with sporadic epilepsy of unknown origin, 96.7% had at least one missense variant in the CLCN genes compared with 28.2% of 139 controls. Nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms in the “skeletal” chloride channel gene CLCN1 and in CLCN2, a putative human epilepsy gene, were detected in threefold excess in cases relative to controls. Among these, we report a novel de novo CLCN1 truncation mutation in a patient with pharmacoresistant generalized seizures and a dystonic writer's cramp without evidence of variants in other channel genes linked to epilepsy. Molecular localization revealed the unexpectedly widespread presence of CLCN1 mRNA transcripts and the ClC-1 subunit protein in human and murine brain, previously believed absent in neurons.
Our findings support a possible comorbid contribution of the “skeletal” chloride channel ClC-1 to the regulation of brain excitability and the need for further elucidation of the roles of CLCN genes in neuronal network excitability disorders.
With a complex and extremely high clinical and genetic heterogeneity, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are better dissected if one takes into account specific endophenotypes. Comorbidity of ASD with epilepsy (or paroxysmal EEG) has long been described and seems to have strong genetic background. Macrocephaly also represents a well-known endophenotype in subgroups of ASD individuals, which suggests pathogenic mechanisms accelerating brain growth in early development and predisposing to the disorder. We attempted to estimate the association of gene variants with neurodevelopmental disorders in patients with autism-epilepsy phenotype (AEP) and cranial overgrowth, analyzing two genes previously reported to be associated with autism and macrocephaly.
We analyzed the coding sequences and exon-intron boundaries of GLIALCAM, encoding an IgG-like cell adhesion protein, in 81 individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, either with or without comorbid epilepsy, paroxysmal EEG and/or macrocephaly, and the PTEN gene in the subsample with macrocephaly.
Among 81 individuals with ASD, 31 had concurrent macrocephaly. Head circumference, moreover, was over the 99.7th percentile (“extreme” macrocephaly) in 6/31 (19%) patients. Whilst we detected in GLIALCAM several single nucleotide variants without clear pathogenic effects, we found a novel PTEN heterozygous frameshift mutation in one case with “extreme” macrocephaly, autism, intellectual disability and seizures.
We did not find a clear association between GLIALCAM mutations and AEP-macrocephaly comorbidity. The identification of a novel frameshift variant of PTEN in a patient with “extreme” macrocephaly, autism, intellectual disability and seizures, confirms this gene as a major candidate in the ASD-macrocephaly endophenotype. The concurrence of epilepsy in the same patient also suggests that PTEN, and the downstream signaling pathway, might deserve to be investigated in autism-epilepsy comorbidity. Working on clinical endophenotypes might be of help to address genetic studies and establish actual causative correlations in autism-epilepsy.
Autism spectrum disorders; Autism-epilepsy phenotype; Macrocephaly; GLIALCAM; PTEN
Benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE) is an autosomal dominant epilepsy syndrome characterized by afebrile seizures beginning at about 6 months of age. Mutations in PRRT2, encoding the proline-rich transmembrane protein 2 gene, have recently been identified in the majority of families with BFIE and the associated syndrome of infantile convulsions and choreoathetosis (ICCA). We asked whether the phenotypic spectrum of PRRT2 was broader than initially recognized by studying patients with sporadic benign infantile seizures and non-BFIE familial infantile seizures for PRRT2 mutations.
Forty-four probands with infantile-onset seizures, infantile convulsions with mild gastroenteritis, and benign neonatal seizures underwent detailed phenotyping and PRRT2 sequencing. The familial segregation of mutations identified in probands was studied.
The PRRT2 mutation c.649-650insC (p.R217fsX224) was identified in 11 probands. Nine probands had a family history of BFIE or ICCA. Two probands had no family history of infantile seizures or paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia and had de novo PRRT2 mutations. Febrile seizures with or without afebrile seizures were observed in 2 families with PRRT2 mutations.
PRRT2 mutations are present in >80% of BFIE and >90% ICCA families, but are not a common cause of other forms of infantile epilepsy. De novo mutations of PRRT2 can cause sporadic benign infantile seizures. Seizures with fever may occur in BFIE such that it may be difficult to distinguish BFIE from febrile seizures and febrile seizures plus in small families.
The genetic causes of malformations of cortical development (MCD) remain largely unknown. Here we report the discovery of multiple disease-causing missense mutations in TUBG1, DYNC1H1 and KIF2A, as well as a single germline mosaic mutation in KIF5C. We find a frequent recurrence of mutations in DYNC1H1, implying that this gene is a major locus implicated in unexplained MCD. The mutations in KIF5C, KIF2A and DYNC1H1 drastically affect ATP hydrolysis, productive protein folding or microtubule binding, while suppression of Tubg1 expression in vivo interferes with proper neuronal migration and expression of Tubg1 mutations in S. cerevisiae results in disruption of normal microtubule behaviour. Our data reinforce the importance of centrosome- and microtubule-related proteins in cortical development and strongly suggest that microtubule-dependent mitotic and post-mitotic processes are major contributors to the pathogenesis of MCD.
There are few reports about the effects of perinatal acquired brain lesions on the development of visual perception. These studies demonstrate nonseverely impaired visual-spatial abilities and preserved visual memory. Longitudinal data analyzing the effects of compromised perceptions on long-term visual knowledge in agnosics are limited to lesions having occurred in adulthood. The study of children with focal lesions of the visual pathways provides a unique opportunity to assess the development of visual memory when perceptual input is degraded. We assessed visual recognition and visual memory in three children with lesions to the visual cortex having occurred in early infancy. We then explored the time course of visual memory impairment in two of them at 2 years and 3.7 years from the initial assessment. All children exhibited apperceptive visual agnosia and visual memory impairment. We observed a longitudinal improvement of visual memory modulated by the structural properties of objects. Our findings indicate that processing of degraded perceptions from birth results in impoverished memories. The dynamic interaction between perception and memory during development might modulate the long-term construction of visual representations, resulting in less severe impairment.
Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD) is a disorder of fatty acid oxidation characterized by hypoglycemic crisis under fasting or during stress conditions, leading to lethargy, seizures, brain damage, or even death. Biochemical acylcarnitines data obtained through newborn screening by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) were confirmed by molecular analysis of the medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (ACADM) gene. Out of 324.000 newborns screened, we identified 14 MCADD patients, in whom, by molecular analysis, we found a new nonsense c.823G>T (p.Gly275∗) and two new missense mutations: c.253G>C (p.Gly85Arg) and c.356T>A (p.Val119Asp). Bioinformatics predictions based on both phylogenetic conservation and functional/structural software were used to characterize the new identified variants. Our findings confirm the rising incidence of MCADD whose existence is increasingly recognized due to the efficacy of an expanded newborn screening panel by LC-MS/MS making possible early specific therapies that can prevent possible crises in at-risk infants. We noticed that the “common” p.Lys329Glu mutation only accounted for 32% of the defective alleles, while, in clinically diagnosed patients, this mutation accounted for 90% of defective alleles. Unclassified variants (UVs or VUSs) are especially critical when considering screening programs. The functional and pathogenic characterization of genetic variants presented here is required to predict their medical consequences in newborns.
Comorbidity of Autism Spectrum Disorders with seizures or abnormal EEG (Autism-Epilepsy Phenotype) suggests shared pathomechanisms, and might be a starting point to identify distinct populations within the clinical complexity of the autistic spectrum. In this study, we tried to assess whether distinct subgroups, having distinctive clinical hallmarks, emerge from this comorbid condition.
Two-hundred and six individuals with idiopathic Autism Spectrum Disorders were subgrouped into three experimental classes depending on the presence of seizures and EEG abnormalities. Neurobehavioral, electroclinical and auxological parameters were investigated to identify differences among groups and features which increase the risk of seizures. Our statistical analyses used ANOVA, post-hoc multiple comparisons, and the Chi-squared test to analyze continuous and categorical variables. A correspondence analysis was also used to decompose significant Chi-squared and reduce variables dimensions.
The high percentage of children with seizures (28.2% of our whole cohort) and EEG abnormalities (64.1%) confirmed that the prevalence of epilepsy in Autism Spectrum Disorders exceeds that of the general population. Seizures were associated with severe intellectual disability, and not with autism severity. Interestingly, tall stature (without macrocephaly) was significantly associated with EEG abnormalities or later onset seizures. However, isolated macrocephaly was equally distributed among groups or associated with early onset seizures when accompanied by tall stature.
Tall stature seems to be a phenotypic “biomarker” of susceptibility to EEG abnormalities or late epilepsy in Autism Spectrum Disorders and, when concurring with macrocephaly, predisposes to early onset seizures. Growth pattern might act as an endophenotypic marker in Autism-Epilepsy comorbidity, delineating distinct pathophysiological subtypes and addressing personalized diagnostic work-up and therapeutic approaches.
To describe a homogeneous subtype of periventricular nodular heterotopia (PNH) as part of a newly defined malformation complex.
Observational study including review of brain MRI and clinical findings of a cohort of 50 patients with PNH in the temporo-occipital horns and trigones, mutation analysis of the FLNA gene, and anatomopathologic study of a fetal brain.
There were 28 females and 22 males. All were sporadic with the exception of an affected mother and son. Epilepsy occurred in 62%, cerebellar signs in 56%, cognitive impairment in 56%, and autism in 12%. Seventy percent were referred within the 3rd year of life. Imaging revealed a normal cerebral cortex in 76% and abnormal cortical folding in 24%. In all patients the hippocampi were under-rotated and in 10% they merged with the heterotopia. Cerebellar dysgenesis was observed in 84% and a hypoplastic corpus callosum in 60%. There was no gender bias or uneven gender distribution of clinical and anatomic severity. No mutations of FLNA occurred in 33 individuals examined. Heterotopia in the fetal brain revealed cytoarchitectonic characteristics similar to those associated with FLNA mutations; cortical pathology was not typical of polymicrogyria. Cerebellar involvement was more severe and the hippocampi appeared simple and under-rotated.
This series delineates a malformation complex in which PNH in the trigones and occipito-temporal horns is associated with hippocampal, corpus callosum, and cerebellar dysgenesis. This subtype of PNH is distinct from classic PNH caused by FLNA mutations.
The purpose of the study was to explore the pathogenic mechanisms underlying generalized epilepsy and febrile seizures plus (GEFS+) in a family with a novel γ2 subunit gene (GABRG2) frameshift mutation. Four affected and one unaffected individuals carried a c.1329delC GABRG2 mutation resulting in a subunit [γ2S(S443delC)] with a modified and elongated carboxy-terminus that is different from that of the wildtype γ2S subunit. We expressed the wildtype γ2S subunit and the predicted mutant γ2S(S443delC) subunit cDNAs in HEK293T cells and performed immunoblotting, flow cytometry and electrophysiology studies. The mutant subunit was translated as a stable protein that was larger than the wildtype γ2S subunit and was retained in the ER and not expressed on the cell surface membrane, suggesting GABRG2 haploinsufficiency. Peak GABA-evoked currents recorded from cells cotransfected with wildtype α1 and β2 subunits and mutant γ2S subunits were significantly decreased and were comparable to α1β2 receptor currents. S443delC is the first GABR epilepsy mutation predicted to abolish the natural stop codon and produce a stop codon in the 3′ UTR that leads to translation of an extended peptide. The GEFS+ phenotype observed in this family is likely caused by γ2S subunit loss-of-function and possibly to dominant-negative suppression of α1β2γ2 receptors. Many GABRG2 truncation mutations result in GEFS+, but the spectrum of phenotypic severity is wider, ranging from asymptomatic individuals to the Dravet syndrome. Mechanisms influencing the severity of the phenotype are therefore complex and difficult to correlate with its demonstrable functional effects.
GABAA receptor; GABRG2; GABRG2(S443delC); GEFS+; Epilepsy
The purpose of the study is to explore the causative role of TUBB2B gene mutations in patients with different malformations of cortical development. We collected and evaluated clinical and MRI data of a cohort of 128 consecutive patients (61 females and 67 males) in whom brain MRI had detected a spectrum of malformations of cortical development including polymicrogyria or pachygyria, who were mutation-negative to other possible causative genes. Mutation analysis of the TUBB2B gene was performed. We identified three new TUBB2B mutations in three unrelated patients (3 out of 128; 2.3%) with a diffuse and rather symmetrical cortical abnormality, including diffuse polymicrogyria in two and bilateral regional pachygyria in one. One patient harbored a p.Asp417Asn amino-acid substitution in the C-terminal domain of the protein; one patient a p.Asn256Ser amino-acid substitution in the intermediate domain and one patient a p.Leu117Pro amino-acid substitution in the N-terminal domain. The localization of each mutation within the secondary structure of the β2-tubulin polypeptide suggests that these mutations might alter the proper functions of microtubules. The phenotypic spectrum associated with TUBB2B mutations is wider than previously reported and includes diffuse, symmetric malformations of cortical development.
malformations of cortical development; TUBB2B; tubulins; mutation analysis
Mutations in the CTSA gene, that encodes the protective protein/cathepsin A or PPCA, lead to the secondary deficiency of β-galactosidase (GLB1) and neuraminidase 1 (NEU1), causing the lysosomal storage disorder galactosialidosis (GS). Few clinical cases of GS have been reported in the literature, the majority of them belonging to the juvenile/adult group of patients.
The correct nomenclature of mutations for this gene is discussed through the analysis of the three PPCA/CTSA isoforms available in the GenBank database. Phenotype-genotype correlation has been assessed by computational analysis and review of previously reported single amino acid substitutions.
We report the clinical and mutational analyses of four cases with the rare infantile form of GS. We identified three novel nucleotide changes, two of them resulting in the missense mutations, c.347A>G (p.His116Arg), c.775T>C (p.Cys259Arg), and the third, c.1216C>T, resulting in the p.Gln406* stop codon, a type of mutation identified for the first time in GS. An Italian founder effect of the c.114delG mutation can be suggested according to the origin of the only three patients carrying this mutation reported here and in the literature.
In early reports mutations nomenclature was selected according to all CTSA isoforms (three different isoforms), thus generating a lot of confusion. In order to assist physicians in the interpretation of detected mutations, we mark the correct nomenclature for CTSA mutations. The complexity of pathology caused by the multifunctions of CTSA, and the very low numbers of mutations (only 23 overall) in relation to the length of the CTSA gene are discussed.
In addition, the in silico functional predictions of all reported missense mutations allowed us to closely predict the early infantile, late infantile and juvenile phenotypes, also disclosing different degrees of severity in the juvenile phenotype.
To perform a clinical and genetic study of a family with benign familial infantile seizures (BFIS) and, upon finding a PRRT2 gene mutation, to study a cohort of probands with a similar phenotype. We extended the study to all available family members to find out whether PRRT2 mutations cosegregated with additional symptoms.
We carried out a clinical and genealogic study of a 3-generation family and of 32 additional probands with BFIS (11 families), infantile convulsions and paroxysmal choreoathetosis (ICCA) (9 families), BFIS/generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (5 families), and sporadic benign neonatal or infantile seizures (7 probands/families). We performed a genetic study consisting of linkage analysis and PRRT2 screening of the 33 probands/families.
We obtained a positive linkage in the 16p11.3-q23.1 chromosomal region in the large BFIS family. Mutation analysis of PRRT2 gene revealed a c.649dupC (p.Arg217Profs*8) in all affected individuals. PRRT2 analysis of the 32 additional probands showed mutations in 10, 8 familial and 2 sporadic, probands. Overall we found PRRT2 mutations in 11 probands with a mutation rate of 11 out of 33 (33%). BFIS co-occurred with migraine and febrile seizures in 2 families, with childhood absence epilepsy in one family and with hemiplegic migraine in one family.
Our results confirm the predominant role of PRRT2 mutations in BFIS and expand the spectrum of PRRT2-associated phenotypes to include febrile seizures, childhood absence seizures, migraine, and hemiplegic migraine.
Small clinical trials are necessary when there are difficulties in recruiting enough patients for conventional frequentist statistical analyses to provide an appropriate answer. These trials are often necessary for the study of rare diseases as well as specific study populations e.g. children. It has been estimated that there are between 6,000 and 8,000 rare diseases that cover a broad range of diseases and patients. In the European Union these diseases affect up to 30 million people, with about 50% of those affected being children. Therapies for treating these rare diseases need their efficacy and safety evaluated but due to the small number of potential trial participants, a standard randomised controlled trial is often not feasible. There are a number of alternative trial designs to the usual parallel group design, each of which offers specific advantages, but they also have specific limitations. Thus the choice of the most appropriate design is not simple.
PubMed was searched to identify publications about the characteristics of different trial designs that can be used in randomised, comparative small clinical trials. In addition, the contents tables from 11 journals were hand-searched. An algorithm was developed using decision nodes based on the characteristics of the identified trial designs.
We identified 75 publications that reported the characteristics of 12 randomised, comparative trial designs that can be used in for the evaluation of therapies in orphan diseases. The main characteristics and the advantages and limitations of these designs were summarised and used to develop an algorithm that may be used to help select an appropriate design for a given clinical situation. We used examples from publications of given disease-treatment-outcome situations, in which the investigators had used a particular trial design, to illustrate the use of the algorithm for the identification of possible alternative designs.
The algorithm that we propose could be a useful tool for the choice of an appropriate trial design in the development of orphan drugs for a given disease-treatment-outcome situation.
Barth syndrome (BS) is an X-linked infantile-onset cardioskeletal disease characterized by cardiomyopathy, hypotonia, growth delay, neutropenia and 3-methylglutaconic aciduria. It is caused by mutations in the TAZ gene encoding tafazzin, a protein involved in the metabolism of cardiolipin, a mitochondrial-specific phospholipid involved in mitochondrial energy production.
Clinical, biochemical and molecular characterization of a group of six male patients suspected of having BS. Three patients presented early with severe metabolic decompensation including respiratory distress, oxygen desaturation and cardiomyopathy and died within the first year of life. The remaining three patients had cardiomyopathy, hypotonia and growth delay and are still alive. Cardiomyopathy was detected during pregnancy through a routine check-up in one patient. All patients exhibited 3-methylglutaconic aciduria and neutropenia, when tested and five of them also had lactic acidosis.
We confirmed the diagnosis of BS with sequence analysis of the TAZ gene, and found five new mutations, c.641A>G p.His214Arg, c.284dupG (p.Thr96Aspfs*37), c.678_691del14 (p.Tyr227Trpfs*79), g.8009_16445del8437 and g.[9777_9814del38; 9911-?_14402del] and the known nonsense mutation c.367C>T (p.Arg123Term). The two gross rearrangements ablated TAZ exons 6 to 11 and probably originated by non-allelic homologous recombination and by Serial Replication Slippage (SRS), respectively. The identification of the breakpoints boundaries of the gross deletions allowed the direct detection of heterozygosity in carrier females.
Lactic acidosis associated with 3-methylglutaconic aciduria is highly suggestive of BS, whilst the severity of the metabolic decompensation at disease onset should be considered for prognostic purposes. Mutation analysis of the TAZ gene is necessary for confirming the clinical and biochemical diagnosis in probands in order to identify heterozygous carriers and supporting prenatal diagnosis and genetic counseling.
Barth syndrome; TAZ gene mutation; In utero cardiomyopathy; Metabolic decompensation; Lactic acidosis; 3-methylglutaconic aciduria; Gross deletions; Metabolic cardiomyopathy
Infantile spasms (ISS) are an epilepsy disorder frequently associated with severe developmental outcome and have diverse genetic etiologies. We ascertained 11 subjects with ISS and novel copy number variants (CNVs) and combined these with a new cohort with deletion 1p36 and ISS, and additional published patients with ISS and other chromosomal abnormalities. Using bioinformatics tools, we analyzed the gene content of these CNVs for enrichment in pathways of pathogenesis. Several important findings emerged. First, the gene content was enriched for the gene regulatory network involved in ventral forebrain development. Second, genes in pathways of synaptic function were overrepresented, significantly those involved in synaptic vesicle transport. Evidence also suggested roles for GABAergic synapses and the postsynaptic density. Third, we confirm the association of ISS with duplication of 14q12 and maternally inherited duplication of 15q11q13, and report the association with duplication of 21q21. We also present a patient with ISS and deletion 7q11.3 not involving MAGI2. Finally, we provide evidence that ISS in deletion 1p36 may be associated with deletion of KLHL17 and expand the epilepsy phenotype in that syndrome to include early infantile epileptic encephalopathy. Several of the identified pathways share functional links, and abnormalities of forebrain synaptic growth and function may form a common biologic mechanism underlying both ISS and autism. This study demonstrates a novel approach to the study of gene content in subjects with ISS and copy number variation, and contributes further evidence to support specific pathways of pathogenesis.
infantile spasms; autism; bioinformatics; copy number variation; deletion 1p36 syndrome
Many pathogenic structural variants of the human genome are known to cause facial dysmorphism. During the past decade, pathogenic structural variants have also been found to be an important class of genetic risk factor for epilepsy. In other fields, face shape has been assessed objectively using 3D stereophotogrammetry and dense surface models. We hypothesized that computer-based analysis of 3D face images would detect subtle facial abnormality in people with epilepsy who carry pathogenic structural variants as determined by chromosome microarray. In 118 children and adults attending three European epilepsy clinics, we used an objective measure called Face Shape Difference to show that those with pathogenic structural variants have a significantly more atypical face shape than those without such variants. This is true when analysing the whole face, or the periorbital region or the perinasal region alone. We then tested the predictive accuracy of our measure in a second group of 63 patients. Using a minimum threshold to detect face shape abnormalities with pathogenic structural variants, we found high sensitivity (4/5, 80% for whole face; 3/5, 60% for periorbital and perinasal regions) and specificity (45/58, 78% for whole face and perinasal regions; 40/58, 69% for periorbital region). We show that the results do not seem to be affected by facial injury, facial expression, intellectual disability, drug history or demographic differences. Finally, we use bioinformatics tools to explore relationships between facial shape and gene expression within the developing forebrain. Stereophotogrammetry and dense surface models are powerful, objective, non-contact methods of detecting relevant face shape abnormalities. We demonstrate that they are useful in identifying atypical face shape in adults or children with structural variants, and they may give insights into the molecular genetics of facial development.
epilepsy; dysmorphism; structural variants; genomics; dense surface models
Despite progresses in neonatal care, the mortality and the incidence of neuro-motor disability after perinatal asphyxia have failed to show substantial improvements. In countries with a high level of perinatal care, the incidence of asphyxia responsible for moderate or severe encephalopathy is still 2–3 per 1000 term newborns. Recent trials have demonstrated that moderate hypothermia, started within 6 hours after birth and protracted for 72 hours, can significantly improve survival and reduce neurologic impairment in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. It is not currently known whether neuroprotective drugs can further improve the beneficial effects of hypothermia. Topiramate has been proven to reduce brain injury in animal models of neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. However, the association of mild hypothermia and topiramate treatment has never been studied in human newborns. The objective of this research project is to evaluate, through a multicenter randomized controlled trial, whether the efficacy of moderate hypothermia can be increased by concomitant topiramate treatment.
Term newborns (gestational age ≥ 36 weeks and birth weight ≥ 1800 g) with precocious metabolic, clinical and electroencephalographic (EEG) signs of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy will be randomized, according to their EEG pattern, to receive topiramate added to standard treatment with moderate hypothermia or standard treatment alone. Topiramate will be administered at 10 mg/kg once a day for the first 3 days of life. Topiramate concentrations will be measured on serial dried blood spots. 64 participants will be recruited in the study. To evaluate the safety of topiramate administration, cardiac and respiratory parameters will be continuously monitored. Blood samplings will be performed to check renal, liver and metabolic balance. To evaluate the efficacy of topiramate, the neurologic outcome of enrolled newborns will be evaluated by serial neurologic and neuroradiologic examinations. Visual function will be evaluated by means of behavioural standardized tests.
This pilot study will explore the possible therapeutic role of topiramate in combination with moderate hypothermia. Any favourable results of this research might open new perspectives about the reduction of cerebral damage in asphyxiated newborns.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN62175998; ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT01241019; EudraCT Number 2010-018627-25
Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy; Therapeutic hypothermia; Topiramate
Malformations of cerebral cortical development include a wide range of developmental disorders that are common causes of neurodevelopmental delay and epilepsy. In addition, study of these disorders contributes greatly to the understanding of normal brain development and its perturbations. The rapid recent evolution of molecular biology, genetics and imaging has resulted in an explosive increase in our knowledge of cerebral cortex development and in the number and types of malformations of cortical development that have been reported. These advances continue to modify our perception of these malformations. This review addresses recent changes in our perception of these disorders and proposes a modified classification based upon updates in our knowledge of cerebral cortical development.
cerebral cortex; malformation of cortical development; microcephaly; cortical dysplasia; polymicrogyria
Mutations in the ALDOB gene impair the activity of the hepatic aldolase B enzyme, causing hereditary fructose intolerance (HFI), an inherited autosomic recessive disease of carbohydrate metabolism, that can result in hypoglycemia, liver and kidney failure, coma, and death. Noninvasive diagnosis is possible by identifying mutant ALDOB alleles in suspected patients. We report the genetic characterization of a cohort of 18 HFI Caucasian patients, based on PCR-sequencing and Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA), with the identification of two novel genetic lesions: a small duplication c.940_941dupT (p.Trp314fsX22) and a large deletion encompassing the promoter region and exon 1. MLPA and long range-PCR (LR-PCR) also identified the recently reported g.7840_14288del6448 allele with a surprisingly high frequency (11%) within our patients’ cohort. The most common p.Ala150Pro (44%), p.Ala175Asp (19%), p.Asn335Lys (8%), and/or the known c.360-363del4 (5%), p.Tyr204X (2.8%), IVS6 −2A>G (2.8%) mutant alleles were identified in 14 patients at a homozygous or compound-heterozygous level. The integration of PCR-sequencing analysis with exon-dosage tools [MLPA and quantitative fluorescent multiplex-PCR (QFM-PCR)] led to the full genotyping of patients within our cohort and to the identification of the new deletion encompassing the promoter region and exon 1.
Focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs) are localized regions of malformed cerebral cortex and are very frequently associated with epilepsy in both children and adults. A broad spectrum of histopathology has been included in the diagnosis of FCD. Characteristic findings include aberrant radial or tangential lamination of the neocortex (FCD Type I) and cytological abnormalities (FCD Type II). An ILAE task force has re-evaluated available data and proposes a clinico-pathologic classification system of FCDs. The major change since a prior classification represents the introduction of FCD Type III, which occurs in combination with Hippocampal Sclerosis (FCD Type IIIa), or with epilepsy-associated tumors (FCD Type IIIb). FCD Type IIIc is found adjacent to vascular malformations, whereas FCD Type IIId can be diagnosed in association with epileptogenic lesions acquired in early life (i.e., traumatic injury, ischemic injury or encephalitis). Hence, FCD Type I will now refer to isolated lesions, which present either as radial (FCD Type Ia) or tangential (FCD Type Ib) dyslamination of the neocortex, microscopically identified in one or multiple lobes. FCD Type II is an isolated lesion characterized by cortical dyslamination and dysmorphic neurons without (Type IIa) or with balloon cells (Type IIb). Architectural abnormalities adjacent to or within gross malformations of cortical development are frequently observed and not distinguished as a specific FCD variant. This three-tiered classification system will help to better characterize specific clinico-pathological entities and is an important basis to further explore imaging, electro-clinical features, and postsurgical seizure control as well as underlying molecular pathomechanisms.
Epilepsy; Seizures; Hippocampal Sclerosis; Cortical Dysplasia; Neuropathology
GM1 gangliosidosis and Morquio B syndrome, both arising from beta-galactosidase (GLB1) deficiency, are very rare lysosomal storage diseases with an incidence of about 1:100,000– 1:200,000 live births worldwide. Here we report the beta-galactosidase gene (GLB1) mutation analysis of 21 unrelated GM1 gangliosidosis patients, and of 4 Morquio B patients, of whom two are brothers. Clinical features of the patients were collected and compared with those in literature. In silico analyses were performed by standard alignments tools and by an improved version of GLB1 three-dimensional models. The analysed cohort includes remarkable cases. One patient with GM1 gangliosidosis had a triple X syndrome. One patient with juvenile GM1 gangliosidosis was homozygous for a mutation previously identified in Morquio type B. A patient with infantile GM1 gangliosidosis carried a complex GLB1 allele harbouring two genetic variants leading to p.R68W and p.R109W amino acid changes, in trans with the known p.R148C mutation.
Molecular analysis showed 27 mutations, 9 of which are new: 5 missense, 3 microdeletions and a nonsense mutation. We also identified four new genetic variants with a predicted polymorphic nature that was further investigated by in silico analyses.
Three-dimensional structural analysis of GLB1 homology models including the new missense mutations and the p.R68W and p.R109W amino acid changes, showed that all the amino acids replacements affected the resulting protein structures in different ways, from changes in polarity to folding alterations. Genetic and clinical associations led us to undertake a critical review of the classifications of late-onset GM1 gangliosidosis and Morquio B disease.
beta-galactosidase; GM1- gangliosidosis; Morquio B; mutation update; homology modelling
In this study, we used deletions at 22q13, which represent a substantial source of human pathology (Phelan/McDermid syndrome), as a model for investigating the molecular mechanisms of terminal deletions that are currently poorly understood. We characterized at the molecular level the genomic rearrangement in 44 unrelated patients with 22q13 monosomy resulting from simple terminal deletions (72%), ring chromosomes (14%), and unbalanced translocations (7%). We also discovered interstitial deletions between 17–74 kb in 9% of the patients. Haploinsufficiency of the SHANK3 gene, confirmed in all rearrangements, is very likely the cause of the major neurological features associated with PMS. SHANK3 mutations can also result in language and/or social interaction disabilities. We determined the breakpoint junctions in 29 cases, providing a realistic snapshot of the variety of mechanisms driving non-recurrent deletion and repair at chromosome ends. De novo telomere synthesis and telomere capture are used to repair terminal deletions; non-homologous end-joining or microhomology-mediated break-induced replication is probably involved in ring 22 formation and translocations; non-homologous end-joining and fork stalling and template switching prevail in cases with interstitial 22q13.3. For the first time, we also demonstrated that distinct stabilizing events of the same terminal deletion can occur in different early embryonic cells, proving that terminal deletions can be repaired by multistep healing events and supporting the recent hypothesis that rare pathogenic germline rearrangements may have mitotic origin. Finally, the progressive clinical deterioration observed throughout the longitudinal medical history of three subjects over forty years supports the hypothesis of a role for SHANK3 haploinsufficiency in neurological deterioration, in addition to its involvement in the neurobehavioral phenotype of PMS.
Terminal chromosome deletions are among the most commonly observed rearrangements detected by cytogenetics and may result in several well-known genetic syndromes. We used 22q13 deletions to study how these types of chromosome abnormalities arise. Children with Phelan/McDermid syndrome, caused by deletion of the terminal portion of chromosome 22, experience developmental delay, absent or severely delayed speech, and frequent behavioral problems. Lack of one copy of SHANK3, a key gene for the correct development and organization of brain synapses, is very likely the basis of the syndrome's major neurological features. Deletion of additional genes probably causes more complex phenotypes in subjects with larger deletions. We also studied patients who only lack a portion of SHANK3 and demonstrated that small, hard-to-detect deletions of this gene may cause substantial clinical problems. Until now, the 22q distal deletion had been only diagnosed in very young people. We studied a large group of patients of different ages and discovered that all adult patients face progressive cognitive decline. Our study demonstrates that deletion of the terminal portion of chromosome 22, a prototype for terminal deletions in human chromosomes, can occur in several ways. Mosaic deletions of different size can also form in early embryogenesis.
Tyrosinemia type I is a genetic disorder characterized by accumulation in the blood and urine of the toxic metabolite succinylacetone (SUAC), not detectable in healthy samples. In many countries, newborns are screened for tyrosinemia type I using tyrosine as a primary marker. Unfortunately, tyrosine accumulation may take longer to occur and it may be not obvious when specimens are collected, in the first few days of life, as for newborn screening. In 2008, we reported changes to simultaneously measure acylcarnitines, amino acids, and SUAC during expanded newborn screening. We established the usefulness of this method after identifying a first asymptomatic newborn affected by tyrosinemia type I. Now we report a second infant with positive SUAC screening result (14.1 μmol/L, n.v. < 2) and normal tyrosine concentration (74 μmol/L; n.v. < 250). We also performed molecular analysis of FAH gene in both patients after diagnosis at newborn screening. They had consanguineous parents and were both homozygous for two known disease-causing mutations of the FAH gene. The outcome of patients detected in the MS/MS screening is significantly favorable. We also report our results of newborn screening for tyrosinemia type I before and after inclusion of SUAC as a primary marker for this disease.
Newborn screening; Succynilacetone; Tyrosinemia type I
Polymicrogyria is one of the most common malformations of cortical development and is associated with a variety of clinical sequelae including epilepsy, intellectual disability, motor dysfunction and speech disturbance. It has heterogeneous clinical manifestations and imaging patterns, yet large cohort data defining the clinical and imaging spectrum and the relative frequencies of each subtype are lacking. The aims of this study were to determine the types and relative frequencies of different polymicrogyria patterns, define the spectrum of their clinical and imaging features and assess for clinical/imaging correlations. We studied the imaging features of 328 patients referred from six centres, with detailed clinical data available for 183 patients. The ascertainment base was wide, including referral from paediatricians, geneticists and neurologists. The main patterns of polymicrogyria were perisylvian (61%), generalized (13%), frontal (5%) and parasagittal parieto-occipital (3%), and in 11% there was associated periventricular grey matter heterotopia. Each of the above patterns was further divided into subtypes based on distinguishing imaging characteristics. The remaining 7% were comprised of a number of rare patterns, many not described previously. The most common clinical sequelae were epileptic seizures (78%), global developmental delay (70%), spasticity (51%) and microcephaly (50%). Many patients presented with neurological or developmental abnormalities prior to the onset of epilepsy. Patients with more extensive patterns of polymicrogyria presented at an earlier age and with more severe sequelae than those with restricted or unilateral forms. The median age at presentation for the entire cohort was 4 months with 38% presenting in either the antenatal or neonatal periods. There were no significant differences between the prevalence of epilepsy for each polymicrogyria pattern, however patients with generalized and bilateral forms had a lower age at seizure onset. There was significant skewing towards males with a ratio of 3:2. This study expands our understanding of the spectrum of clinical and imaging features of polymicrogyria. Progression from describing imaging patterns to defining anatomoclinical syndromes will improve the accuracy of prognostic counselling and will aid identification of the aetiologies of polymicrogyria, including genetic causes.
polymicrogyria; cortical malformations; magnetic resonance; epileptology
Periventricular heterotopia (PH) is a disorder characterized by neuronal nodules, ectopically positioned along the lateral ventricles of the cerebral cortex. Mutations in either of two human genes, Filamin A (FLNA) or ADP-ribosylation factor guanine exchange factor 2 (ARFGEF2), cause PH (Fox et al. in ‘Mutations in filamin 1 prevent migration of cerebral cortical neurons in human periventricular heterotopia'. Neuron, 21, 1315–1325, 1998; Sheen et al. in ‘Mutations in ARFGEF2 implicate vesicle trafficking in neural progenitor proliferation and migration in the human cerebral cortex'. Nat. Genet., 36, 69–76, 2004). Recent studies have shown that mutations in mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase-4 (Mekk4), an indirect interactor with FlnA, also lead to periventricular nodule formation in mice (Sarkisian et al. in ‘MEKK4 signaling regulates filamin expression and neuronal migration'. Neuron, 52, 789–801, 2006). Here we show that neurons in post-mortem human PH brains migrated appropriately into the cortex, that periventricular nodules were primarily composed of later-born neurons, and that the neuroependyma was disrupted in all PH cases. As studied in the mouse, loss of FlnA or Big2 function in neural precursors impaired neuronal migration from the germinal zone, disrupted cell adhesion and compromised neuroepithelial integrity. Finally, the hydrocephalus with hop gait (hyh) mouse, which harbors a mutation in Napa [encoding N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein alpha (α-SNAP)], also develops a progressive denudation of the neuroepithelium, leading to periventicular nodule formation. Previous studies have shown that Arfgef2 and Napa direct vesicle trafficking and fusion, whereas FlnA associates dynamically with the Golgi membranes during budding and trafficking of transport vesicles. Our current findings suggest that PH formation arises from a final common pathway involving disruption of vesicle trafficking, leading to impaired cell adhesion and loss of neuroependymal integrity.