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1.  A Homozygous B3GAT3 Mutation Causes a Severe Syndrome with Multiple Fractures, Extending the Number of Linkeropathy Syndromes 
Linkeropathies are a group of syndromes characterized by short stature, radio-ulnar synostosis, decreased bone density, congenital contractures and dislocations, joint laxity, broad digits, brachycephaly, small mouth, prominent eyes, short or webbed neck, congenital heart defects and mild developmental delay. Linkeropathies are due to enzymatic defects in the synthesis of the common linker region that joins the core proteins to their glycosaminoglycan side chains. The enzyme glucuronyltransferase 1, encoded by B3GAT3, adds the last of the four saccharides that comprise the linker region. Mutations in B3GAT3 have been reported in two unrelated families with the same homozygous mutation (c.830G>A, p.Arg277Gln). We report a patient with a novel homozygous B3GAT3 (c.667G>A, p.Gly223Ser) mutation and a history of multiple fractures, blue sclerae, and glaucoma. Our patient is a 12 month old boy born to consanguineous parents and, like previously reported patients, he has bilateral radio-ulnar synostosis, severe osteopenia, an increased gap between first and second toes, bilateral club feet, and atrial and ventricular septal defects. He also the additional features of bilateral glaucoma, hypertelorism, upturned nose with anteverted nares, a small chest, a diaphragmatic hernia, multiple fractures, arachnodactyly, overlapping fingers with ulnar deviation, lymphedema, hypotonia, hearing loss, and perinatal cerebral infarction with bilateral supra- and infratentorial subdural hematomas. We provide a clinical report to highlight the extended phenotypic range of B3GAT3 mutations and a comparative overview of the phenotypic features of the linkeropathies associated with mutations in XYLT1, B4GALT7, B3GALT6, and B3GAT3.
PMCID: PMC4654953  PMID: 26086840
Linkeropathy; B3GAT3; Larsen-like syndrome; proteoglycan disorder; congenital disorder of glycosylation; multiple fractures
2.  Clinical Genetic Testing in Epilepsy 
Epilepsy Currents  2015;15(4):197-201.
New technologies for mutation detection in the human genome have greatly increased our understanding of epilepsy genetics. Application of genomic technologies in the clinical setting allows for more efficient genetic diagnosis in some patients; therefore, it is important to understand the types of tests available and the types of mutations that can be detected. Making a genetic diagnosis improves overall patient care by enhancing prognosis and recurrence risk counseling and informing treatment decisions.
PMCID: PMC4532232  PMID: 26316867
3.  CHD2 variants are a risk factor for photosensitivity in epilepsy 
Brain  2015;138(5):1198-1207.
Photosensitivity in epilepsy is common and has high heritability, but its genetic basis remains uncertain. Galizia et al. reveal an overrepresentation of unique variants of CHD2 — which encodes the transcriptional regulator ‘chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 2’ — in photosensitive epilepsies, and show that chd2 knockdown in zebrafish causes photosensitivity.
Photosensitivity in epilepsy is common and has high heritability, but its genetic basis remains uncertain. Galizia et al. reveal an overrepresentation of unique variants of CHD2 — which encodes the transcriptional regulator ‘chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 2’ — in photosensitive epilepsies, and show that chd2 knockdown in zebrafish causes photosensitivity.
Photosensitivity is a heritable abnormal cortical response to flickering light, manifesting as particular electroencephalographic changes, with or without seizures. Photosensitivity is prominent in a very rare epileptic encephalopathy due to de novo CHD2 mutations, but is also seen in epileptic encephalopathies due to other gene mutations. We determined whether CHD2 variation underlies photosensitivity in common epilepsies, specific photosensitive epilepsies and individuals with photosensitivity without seizures. We studied 580 individuals with epilepsy and either photosensitive seizures or abnormal photoparoxysmal response on electroencephalography, or both, and 55 individuals with photoparoxysmal response but no seizures. We compared CHD2 sequence data to publicly available data from 34 427 individuals, not enriched for epilepsy. We investigated the role of unique variants seen only once in the entire data set. We sought CHD2 variants in 238 exomes from familial genetic generalized epilepsies, and in other public exome data sets. We identified 11 unique variants in the 580 individuals with photosensitive epilepsies and 128 unique variants in the 34 427 controls: unique CHD2 variation is over-represented in cases overall (P = 2·17 × 10−5). Among epilepsy syndromes, there was over-representation of unique CHD2 variants (3/36 cases) in the archetypal photosensitive epilepsy syndrome, eyelid myoclonia with absences (P = 3·50 × 10−4). CHD2 variation was not over-represented in photoparoxysmal response without seizures. Zebrafish larvae with chd2 knockdown were tested for photosensitivity. Chd2 knockdown markedly enhanced mild innate zebrafish larval photosensitivity. CHD2 mutation is the first identified cause of the archetypal generalized photosensitive epilepsy syndrome, eyelid myoclonia with absences. Unique CHD2 variants are also associated with photosensitivity in common epilepsies. CHD2 does not encode an ion channel, opening new avenues for research into human cortical excitability.
PMCID: PMC4407192  PMID: 25783594
photosensitive; seizure; eyelid myoclonia with absences
4.  Investigating the genetic basis of fever-associated syndromic epilepsies using copy number variation analysis 
Epilepsia  2015;56(3):e26-e32.
Fever-associated syndromic epilepsies ranging from febrile seizures plus (FS+) to Dravet syndrome have a significant genetic component. However, apart from SCN1A mutations in over 80% of patients with Dravet syndrome, the genetic underpinnings of these epilepsies remain largely unknown. Therefore, we performed a genome-wide screening for copy number variations (CNVs) in 36 patients with SCN1A-negative fever-associated syndromic epilepsies. Phenotypes included Dravet syndrome (n=23; 64%), GEFS+/FS+ (n=11; 31%) and unclassified fever-associated epilepsies (n=2; 6%). Array CGH was performed using Agilent 4×180K arrays. We identified 13 rare CNVs in 8/36 (22%) individuals. These included known pathogenic CNVs in 4/36 (11%) patients: a 1q21.1 duplication in a proband with Dravet syndrome, a 14q23.3 deletion in a proband with FS+ and two deletions at 16p11.2 and 1q44 in two individuals with fever-associated epilepsy with concomitant autism and/or intellectual disability. In addition, a 3q13.11 duplication in a patient with FS+ and two de novo duplications at 7p14.2 and 18q12.2 in a patient with atypical Dravet syndrome were classified as likely pathogenic. Six CNVs were of unknown significance. The identified genomic aberrations overlap with known neurodevelopmental disorders, suggesting that fever-associated epilepsy syndromes may be a recurrent clinical presentation of known microdeletion syndromes.
PMCID: PMC4363163  PMID: 25690317
copy number variation; fever-associated syndromic epilepsy; febrile seizures plus; Dravet syndrome; SCN1A-negative
6.  Finding the Missing Pieces: The Microdeletion Burden in GGE 
Epilepsy Currents  2016;16(1):16-17.
PMCID: PMC4749107  PMID: 26900369
7.  Simultaneous impairment of neuronal and metabolic function of mutated gephyrin in a patient with epileptic encephalopathy 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2015;7(12):1580-1594.
Synaptic inhibition is essential for shaping the dynamics of neuronal networks, and aberrant inhibition plays an important role in neurological disorders. Gephyrin is a central player at inhibitory postsynapses, directly binds and organizes GABAA and glycine receptors (GABAARs and GlyRs), and is thereby indispensable for normal inhibitory neurotransmission. Additionally, gephyrin catalyzes the synthesis of the molybdenum cofactor (MoCo) in peripheral tissue. We identified a de novo missense mutation (G375D) in the gephyrin gene (GPHN) in a patient with epileptic encephalopathy resembling Dravet syndrome. Although stably expressed and correctly folded, gephyrin‐G375D was non‐synaptically localized in neurons and acted dominant‐negatively on the clustering of wild‐type gephyrin leading to a marked decrease in GABAAR surface expression and GABAergic signaling. We identified a decreased binding affinity between gephyrin‐G375D and the receptors, suggesting that Gly375 is essential for gephyrin–receptor complex formation. Surprisingly, gephyrin‐G375D was also unable to synthesize MoCo and activate MoCo‐dependent enzymes. Thus, we describe a missense mutation that affects both functions of gephyrin and suggest that the identified defect at GABAergic synapses is the mechanism underlying the patient's severe phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4693503  PMID: 26613940
Dravet syndrome; epileptic encephalopathy; GABAA receptors; gephyrin; molybdenum cofactor; Genetics, Gene Therapy & Genetic Disease; Neuroscience
8.  Advancing epilepsy genetics in the genomic era 
Genome Medicine  2015;7(1):91.
Epilepsy is a group of disorders characterized by recurrent seizures, and is one of the most common neurological conditions. The genetic basis of epilepsy is clear from epidemiological studies and from rare gene discoveries in large families. The three major classes of epilepsy disorders are genetic generalized, focal and encephalopathic epilepsies, with several specific disorders within each class. Advances in genomic technologies that facilitate genome-wide discovery of both common and rare variants have led to a rapid increase in our understanding of epilepsy genetics. Copy number variant and genome-wide association studies have contributed to our understanding of the complex genetic architecture of generalized epilepsy, while genetic insights into the focal epilepsies and epileptic encephalopathies have come primarily from exome sequencing. It is increasingly clear that epilepsy is genetically heterogeneous, and novel gene discoveries have moved the field beyond the known contribution of ion channels to implicate chromatin remodeling, transcriptional regulation and regulation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) protein in the etiology of epilepsy. Such discoveries pave the way for new therapeutics, some of which are already being studied. In this review, we discuss the rapid pace of gene discovery in epilepsy, as facilitated by genomic technologies, and highlight several novel genes and potential therapies.
PMCID: PMC4549122  PMID: 26302787
9.  Further clinical and molecular delineation of the 15q24 microdeletion syndrome 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2011;49(2):110-118.
Chromosome 15q24 microdeletion syndrome is a rare genomic disorder characterised by intellectual disability, growth retardation, unusual facial morphology and other anomalies. To date, 20 patients have been reported; 18 have had detailed breakpoint analysis.
To further delineate the features of the 15q24 microdeletion syndrome, the clinical and molecular characterisation of fifteen patients with deletions in the 15q24 region was performed, nearly doubling the number of reported patients.
Breakpoints were characterised using a custom, high-density array comparative hybridisation platform, and detailed phenotype information was collected for each patient.
Nine distinct deletions with different breakpoints ranging in size from 266 kb to 3.75 Mb were identified. The majority of breakpoints lie within segmental duplication (SD) blocks. Low sequence identity and large intervals of unique sequence between SD blocks likely contribute to the rarity of 15q24 deletions, which occur 8–10 times less frequently than 1q21 or 15q13 microdeletions in our series. Two small, atypical deletions were identified within the region that help delineate the critical region for the core phenotype in the 15q24 microdeletion syndrome.
The molecular characterisation of these patients suggests that the core cognitive features of the 15q24 microdeletion syndrome, including developmental delays and severe speech problems, are largely due to deletion of genes in a 1.1–Mb critical region. However, genes just distal to the critical region also play an important role in cognition and in the development of characteristic facial features associated with 15q24 deletions. Clearly, deletions in the 15q24 region are variable in size and extent. Knowledge of the breakpoints and size of deletion combined with the natural history and medical problems of our patients provide insights that will inform management guidelines. Based on common phenotypic features, all patients with 15q24 microdeletions should receive a thorough neurodevelopmental evaluation, physical, occupational and speech therapies, and regular audiologic and ophthalmologic screening.
PMCID: PMC3261729  PMID: 22180641
Academic medicine; clinical genetics; epilepsy and seizures; cytogenetics; molecular genetics; genetics; copy-number; developmental; epilepsy and seizures; neurology; neuroophthalmology; cancer: breast; cancer: colon; genetic screening/counselling; obstetrics and gynaecology
10.  Disruptive CHD8 mutations define a subtype of autism early in development 
Cell  2014;158(2):263-276.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous disease where efforts to define subtypes behaviorally have met with limited success. Hypothesizing that genetically based subtype identification may prove more productive, we resequenced the ASD-associated gene CHD8 in 3,730 children with developmental delay or ASD. We identified a total of 15 independent mutations; no truncating events were identified in 8,792 controls, including 2,289 unaffected siblings. In addition to a high likelihood of an ASD diagnosis among patients bearing CHD8 mutations, characteristics enriched in this group included macrocephaly, distinct faces, and gastrointestinal complaints. chd8 disruption in zebrafish recapitulates features of the human phenotype, including increased head size as a result of expansion of the forebrain/midbrain and impairment of gastrointestinal motility due to a reduction in post-mitotic enteric neurons. Our findings indicate that CHD8 disruptions define a distinct ASD subtype and reveal unexpected comorbidities between brain development and enteric innervation.
PMCID: PMC4136921  PMID: 24998929
Autism spectrum disorder; autism subtypes; dysmorphology; macrocephaly; gastrointestinal defect; zebrafish modeling; enteric neurons; forebrain/midbrain expansion
11.  Copy Number Matters in Epilepsy 
Epilepsy Currents  2015;15(4):180-182.
PMCID: PMC4532226  PMID: 26316861
12.  The Genetics of Microdeletion and Microduplication Syndromes: An Update 
Chromosomal abnormalities, including microdeletions and microduplications, have long been associated with abnormal developmental outcomes. Early discoveries relied on a common clinical presentation and the ability to detect chromosomal abnormalities by standard karyotype analysis or specific assays such as fluorescence in situ hybridization. Over the past decade, the development of novel genomic technologies has allowed more comprehensive, unbiased discovery of microdeletions and microduplications throughout the human genome. The ability to quickly interrogate large cohorts using chromosome microarrays and, more recently, next-generation sequencing has led to the rapid discovery of novel microdeletions and microduplications associated with disease, including very rare but clinically significant rearrangements. In addition, the observation that some microdeletions are associated with risk for several neurodevelopmental disorders contributes to our understanding of shared genetic susceptibility for such disorders. Here, we review current knowledge of microdeletion/duplication syndromes, with a particular focus on recurrent rearrangement syndromes.
PMCID: PMC4476258  PMID: 24773319
developmental delay; intellectual disability; copy-number variation; recurrent rearrangement; nonallelic homologous recombination; microarray
13.  Refining analyses of copy number variation identifies specific genes associated with developmental delay 
Nature genetics  2014;46(10):1063-1071.
Copy number variants (CNVs) are associated with many neurocognitive disorders; however, these events are typically large and the underlying causative gene is unclear. We created an expanded CNV morbidity map from 29,085 children with developmental delay versus 19,584 healthy controls, identifying 70 significant CNVs. We resequenced 26 candidate genes in 4,716 additional cases with developmental delay or autism and 2,193 controls. An integrated analysis of CNV and single-nucleotide variant (SNV) data pinpointed ten genes enriched for putative loss of function. Patient follow-up on a subset identified new clinical subtypes of pediatric disease and the genes responsible for disease-associated CNVs. This includes haploinsufficiency of SETBP1 associated with intellectual disability and loss of expressive language and truncations of ZMYND11 in patients with autism, aggression and complex neuropsychiatric features. This combined CNV and SNV approach facilitates the rapid discovery of new syndromes and neuropsychiatric disease genes despite extensive genetic heterogeneity.
PMCID: PMC4177294  PMID: 25217958
14.  Seizures Are Regulated by Ubiquitin-specific Peptidase 9 X-linked (USP9X), a De-Ubiquitinase 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(3):e1005022.
Epilepsy is a common disabling disease with complex, multifactorial genetic and environmental etiology. The small fraction of epilepsies subject to Mendelian inheritance offers key insight into epilepsy disease mechanisms; and pathologies brought on by mutations in a single gene can point the way to generalizable therapeutic strategies. Mutations in the PRICKLE genes can cause seizures in humans, zebrafish, mice, and flies, suggesting the seizure-suppression pathway is evolutionarily conserved. This pathway has never been targeted for novel anti-seizure treatments. Here, the mammalian PRICKLE-interactome was defined, identifying prickle-interacting proteins that localize to synapses and a novel interacting partner, USP9X, a substrate-specific de-ubiquitinase. PRICKLE and USP9X interact through their carboxy-termini; and USP9X de-ubiquitinates PRICKLE, protecting it from proteasomal degradation. In forebrain neurons of mice, USP9X deficiency reduced levels of Prickle2 protein. Genetic analysis suggests the same pathway regulates Prickle-mediated seizures. The seizure phenotype was suppressed in prickle mutant flies by the small-molecule USP9X inhibitor, Degrasyn/WP1130, or by reducing the dose of fat facets a USP9X orthologue. USP9X mutations were identified by resequencing a cohort of patients with epileptic encephalopathy, one patient harbored a de novo missense mutation and another a novel coding mutation. Both USP9X variants were outside the PRICKLE-interacting domain. These findings demonstrate that USP9X inhibition can suppress prickle-mediated seizure activity, and that USP9X variants may predispose to seizures. These studies point to a new target for anti-seizure therapy and illustrate the translational power of studying diseases in species across the evolutionary spectrum.
Author Summary
Epilepsy is a common disabling disorder characterized by seizures with complex genetic and environmental components. The absence of a definitive pathophysiology for epilepsy stymies the development of effective treatment strategies. In a small fraction of epilepsy cases however, single gene mutations may illuminate seizure-causing mechanisms, which may open the door to the discovery of broader, more effective therapeutic strategies. We have previously shown that disruption of Prickle genes in multiple species including humans, results in a predisposition to seizures. Those findings support Prickle in a seizure-preventing role and presents a possible anti-seizure therapeutic target. We identified the deubiquitinase Usp9x (ubiquitin-specific peptidase 9 X-linked) as a new Prickle binding partner which stabilized Prickle by preventing its degradation. In mice lacking the Usp9x protein in their forebrains, Prickle2 was barely detectable. In seizure-prone prickle mutant Drosophila, reducing fat facets (Drosophila usp9x) genetically or by a small-molecule usp9x inhibitor (Degrasyn/WP1130) suppressed the seizures. We also found 2 epilepsy patients harboring mutations in USP9X. Our findings demonstrate that inhibition of Usp9x can arrest prickle-mediated seizures, and variations in USP9X may predispose to seizures. From these studies, we have elucidated a seizure-inducing mechanism, identified a potential anti-seizure target, and a potential anti-seizure drug.
PMCID: PMC4357451  PMID: 25763846
15.  Two Novel Mutations in ABHD12: Expansion of the Mutation Spectrum in PHARC and Assessment of their Functional Effects 
Human mutation  2013;34(12):1672-1678.
PHARC (Polyneuropathy, Hearing loss, Ataxia, Retinitis pigmentosa, and Cataracts) is a recently described autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disease caused by mutations in the α–β–hydrolase domain-containing 12 gene (ABHD12). Only five homozygous ABHD12 mutations have been reported and the pathogenesis of PHARC remains unclear. We evaluated a woman who manifested short stature as well as the typical features of PHARC. Sequence analysis of ABHD12 revealed a novel heterozygous c.1129A>T (p.Lys377X) mutation. Targeted comparative genomic hybridization detected a 59 kb deletion that encompasses exon 1 of ABHD12 and exons 1–4 of an adjacent gene, GINS1, and includes the promoters of both genes. The heterozygous deletion was also carried by the patient’s asymptomatic mother. qRT-PCR demonstrated ~50% decreased expression of ABHD12 RNA in lymphoblastoid cell lines from both individuals. Activity-based protein profiling of serine hydrolases revealed absence of ABHD12 hydrolase activity in the patient and 50% reduction in her mother. This is the first report of compound heterozygosity in PHARC and the first study to describe how a mutation might affect ABHD12 expression and function. The possible involvement of haploinsufficiency for GINS1, a DNA replication complex protein, in the short stature of the patient and her mother requires further studies.
PMCID: PMC3855015  PMID: 24027063
PHARC; ABHD12; GINS1; short stature; endocannabinoid; hydrolase activity
16.  Deletions of 16p11.2 and 19p13.2 in a family with intellectual disability and generalized epilepsy 
Rare copy number variants (CNVs) have been established as an important cause of various neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability (ID) and epilepsy. In some cases, a second CNV may contribute to a more severe clinical presentation. Here we present two siblings and their mother who have mild ID, short stature, obesity and seizures. Array CGH studies show that each affected individual has two large, rare CNVs. The first is a deletion of chromosome 16p11.2, which has been previously associated with ID and autism. The second is a 0.9 Mb deletion of 19p13.2, which results in the deletion of a cluster of zinc finger genes. We suggest that, while the 16p11.2 deletion is likely the primary cause of the obesity and ID in this family, the 19p13.2 deletion may act as a modifier of the epilepsy phenotype, which is not a core feature of the 16p11.2 deletion syndrome. We investigate the potential role of ZNF44, a gene within the deleted region, in a cohort of patients with generalized epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC4169108  PMID: 23686817
17.  Genomics, Intellectual Disability, and Autism 
The New England journal of medicine  2012;366(8):733-743.
PMCID: PMC4107681  PMID: 22356326
18.  Copy Number Variation Analysis in Single-Suture Craniosynostosis: Multiple Rare Variants Including RUNX2 Duplication in Two Cousins With Metopic Craniosynostosis 
Little is known about genes that underlie isolated single-suture craniosynostosis. In this study, we hypothesize that rare copy number variants (CNV) in patients with isolated single-suture craniosynostosis contain genes important for cranial development. Using whole genome array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), we evaluated DNA from 186 individuals with single-suture craniosynostosis for submicroscopic deletions and duplications. We identified a 1.1 Mb duplication encompassing RUNX2 in two affected cousins with metopic synostosis and hypodontia. Given that RUNX2 is required as a master switch for osteoblast differentiation and interacts with TWIST1, mutations in which also cause craniosynostosis, we conclude that the duplication in this family is pathogenic, albeit with reduced penetrance. In addition, we find that a total of 7.5% of individuals with single-suture synostosis in our series have at least one rare deletion or duplication that contains genes and that has not been previously reported in unaffected individuals. The genes within and disrupted by CNVs in this cohort are potential novel candidate genes for craniosynostosis. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3104131  PMID: 20683987
craniosynostosis; copy number variant; array comparative genomic hybridization; RUNX2
19.  CNVs in Epilepsy 
Current Genetic Medicine Reports  2014;2(3):162-167.
Copy number variants (CNVs) are deletions or duplications of DNA. CNVs have been increasingly recognized as an important source of both normal genetic variation and pathogenic mutation. Technologies for genome-wide discovery of CNVs facilitate studies of large cohorts of patients and controls to identify CNVs that cause increased risk for disease. Over the past 5 years, studies of patients with epilepsy confirm that both recurrent and non-recurrent CNVs are an important source of mutation for patients with various forms of epilepsy. Here, we will review the latest findings and explore the clinical implications.
PMCID: PMC4129225  PMID: 25152848
Copy number variants; Epilepsy; Microdeletions; Neurodevelopmental disorders
21.  Clinical whole-genome sequencing in severe early-onset epilepsy reveals new genes and improves molecular diagnosis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(12):3200-3211.
In severe early-onset epilepsy, precise clinical and molecular genetic diagnosis is complex, as many metabolic and electro-physiological processes have been implicated in disease causation. The clinical phenotypes share many features such as complex seizure types and developmental delay. Molecular diagnosis has historically been confined to sequential testing of candidate genes known to be associated with specific sub-phenotypes, but the diagnostic yield of this approach can be low. We conducted whole-genome sequencing (WGS) on six patients with severe early-onset epilepsy who had previously been refractory to molecular diagnosis, and their parents. Four of these patients had a clinical diagnosis of Ohtahara Syndrome (OS) and two patients had severe non-syndromic early-onset epilepsy (NSEOE). In two OS cases, we found de novo non-synonymous mutations in the genes KCNQ2 and SCN2A. In a third OS case, WGS revealed paternal isodisomy for chromosome 9, leading to identification of the causal homozygous missense variant in KCNT1, which produced a substantial increase in potassium channel current. The fourth OS patient had a recessive mutation in PIGQ that led to exon skipping and defective glycophosphatidyl inositol biosynthesis. The two patients with NSEOE had likely pathogenic de novo mutations in CBL and CSNK1G1, respectively. Mutations in these genes were not found among 500 additional individuals with epilepsy. This work reveals two novel genes for OS, KCNT1 and PIGQ. It also uncovers unexpected genetic mechanisms and emphasizes the power of WGS as a clinical tool for making molecular diagnoses, particularly for highly heterogeneous disorders.
PMCID: PMC4030775  PMID: 24463883
22.  PRICKLE1 Interaction with SYNAPSIN I Reveals a Role in Autism Spectrum Disorders 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80737.
The frequent comorbidity of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) with epilepsy suggests a shared underlying genetic susceptibility; several genes, when mutated, can contribute to both disorders. Recently, PRICKLE1 missense mutations were found to segregate with ASD. However, the mechanism by which mutations in this gene might contribute to ASD is unknown. To elucidate the role of PRICKLE1 in ASDs, we carried out studies in Prickle1+/− mice and Drosophila, yeast, and neuronal cell lines. We show that mice with Prickle1 mutations exhibit ASD-like behaviors. To find proteins that interact with PRICKLE1 in the central nervous system, we performed a yeast two-hybrid screen with a human brain cDNA library and isolated a peptide with homology to SYNAPSIN I (SYN1), a protein involved in synaptogenesis, synaptic vesicle formation, and regulation of neurotransmitter release. Endogenous Prickle1 and Syn1 co-localize in neurons and physically interact via the SYN1 region mutated in ASD and epilepsy. Finally, a mutation in PRICKLE1 disrupts its ability to increase the size of dense-core vesicles in PC12 cells. Taken together, these findings suggest PRICKLE1 mutations contribute to ASD by disrupting the interaction with SYN1 and regulation of synaptic vesicles.
PMCID: PMC3849077  PMID: 24312498
23.  SFARI Gene 2.0: a community-driven knowledgebase for the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) 
Molecular Autism  2013;4:36.
New technologies enabling genome-wide interrogation have led to a large and rapidly growing number of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) candidate genes. Although encouraging, the volume and complexity of these data make it challenging for scientists, particularly non-geneticists, to comprehensively evaluate available evidence for individual genes. Described here is the Gene Scoring module within SFARI Gene 2.0 (, a platform developed to enable systematic community driven assessment of genetic evidence for individual genes with regard to ASD.
PMCID: PMC3851189  PMID: 24090431
25.  Rare copy number variants are an important cause of epileptic encephalopathies 
Annals of neurology  2011;70(6):974-985.
Rare copy number variants (CNVs) – deletions and duplications – have recently been established as important risk factors for both generalized and focal epilepsies. A systematic assessment of the role of CNVs in epileptic encephalopathies, the most devastating and often etiologically obscure, group of epilepsies, has not been performed.
We evaluated 315 patients with epileptic encephalopathies characterized by epilepsy and progressive cognitive impairment for rare CNVs using a high-density, exon-focused whole-genome oligonucleotide array.
We found that 25/315 (7.9%) of our patients carried rare CNVs that may contribute to their phenotype, with at least half being clearly or likely pathogenic. We identified two patients with overlapping deletions at 7q21 and two patients with identical duplications of 16p11.2. In our cohort, large deletions were enriched in affected individuals compared to controls, and four patients harbored two rare CNVs. We screened two novel candidate genes found within the rare CNVs in our cohort but found no mutations in our patients with epileptic encephalopathies. We highlight several additional novel candidate genes located in CNV regions.
Our data highlight the significance of rare copy number variants in the epileptic encephalopathies, and we suggest that CNV analysis should be considered in the genetic evaluation of these patients. Our findings also highlight novel candidate genes for further study.
PMCID: PMC3245646  PMID: 22190369

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