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.
PHARC; ABHD12; GINS1; short stature; endocannabinoid; hydrolase activity
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.
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.
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
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.
Copy number variants; Epilepsy; Microdeletions; Neurodevelopmental disorders
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.
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.
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 (https://gene.sfari.org/autdb/GS_Home.do), a platform developed to enable systematic community driven assessment of genetic evidence for individual genes with regard to ASD.
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.
craniosynostosis; copy number variant; array comparative genomic hybridization; RUNX2
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.
Kabuki syndrome is a rare, multiple malformation disorder characterized by a distinctive facial appearance, cardiac anomalies, skeletal abnormalities, and mild to moderate intellectual disability. Simplex cases make up the vast majority of the reported cases with Kabuki syndrome, but parent-to-child transmission in more than a half-dozen instances indicates that it is an autosomal dominant disorder. We recently reported that Kabuki syndrome is caused by mutations in MLL2, a gene that encodes a Trithorax-group histone methyltransferase, a protein important in the epigenetic control of active chromatin states. Here, we report on the screening of 110 families with Kabuki syndrome. MLL2 mutations were found in 81/110 (74%) of families. In simplex cases for which DNA was available from both parents, 25 mutations were confirmed to be de novo, while a transmitted MLL2 mutation was found in two of three familial cases. The majority of variants found to cause Kabuki syndrome were novel nonsense or frameshift mutations that are predicted to result in haploinsufficiency. The clinical characteristics of MLL2 mutation-positive cases did not differ significantly from MLL2 mutation-negative cases with the exception that renal anomalies were more common in MLL2 mutation-positive cases. These results are important for understanding the phenotypic consequences of MLL2 mutations for individuals and their families as well as for providing a basis for the identification of additional genes for Kabuki syndrome.
Kabuki syndrome; MLL2; ALR; Trithorax group histone methyltransferase
15q13.3 microdeletions are the most common genetic findings in Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsies identified to date, present in up to 1% of patients. In addition, 15q13.3 microdeletions have been described in patients with epilepsy as part of a complex neurodevelopmental phenotype. We analyzed a cohort of 570 patients with various pediatric epilepsies for 15q13.3 microdeletions. Screening was performed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, deletions were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization. We carried out detailed phenotyping of deletion carriers. In total, we identified four pediatric patients with 15q13.3 microdeletions including one previously described patient. 2/4 deletions were de novo, 1 deletion was inherited from an unaffected parent, and in one patient, inheritance is unknown. All four patients had absence epilepsy with various degrees of intellectual disability. We suggest that absence epilepsy accompanied by intellectual disability may represent a common phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion in pediatric epilepsy patients.
Intellectual disability; IGE
We set out to review the extent to which molecular karyotyping has overtaken conventional cytogenetics in applications related to epilepsy. Multiplex ligase-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) targeted to predetermined regions such as SCN1A and KCNQ2 has been effectively applied over the past half a decade and oligonucleotide array comparative genome hybridization (array CGH) is now well established for genome wide exploration of microchromosomal variation. Array CGH is applicable to the characterization of lesions present in both sporadic and familial epilepsy, especially where clinical features of affected cases depart from established syndromes. Copy number variants (CNVs) associated with epilepsy and a range of other syndromes and conditions can be recurrent due to non-allelic homologous recombination in regions of segmental duplication. The most common of the recurrent microdeletions associated with generalized epilepsy are typically seen at a frequency of around 1% at 15q13.3, 16p13.11 and 15q11.2, sites that also confer susceptibility for intellectual disability, autism and schizophrenia. Incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity confound the established rules of cytogenetics for determining the pathogenicity for novel CNVs; however, as knowledge is gained for each of the recurrent CNVs, this is translated to genetic counselling. CNVs play a significant role in the susceptibility profile for epilepsies with complex genetics and their comorbidities both from the “hotspots” defined by segmental duplication and elsewhere in the genome where their location and size are often novel.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders, with a prevalence of 1% and lifetime incidence of 3%. There are numerous epilepsy syndromes, most of which are considered to be genetic epilepsies. Despite the discovery of more than 20 genes for epilepsy to date, much of the genetic contribution to epilepsy is not yet known. Copy number variants have been established as an important source of mutation in other complex brain disorders, including intellectual disability, autism and schizophrenia. Recent advances in technology now facilitate genome-wide searches for copy number variants and are beginning to be applied to epilepsy. Here, we discuss what is currently known about the contribution of copy number variants to epilepsy, and how that knowledge is redefining classification of clinical and genetic syndromes.
Little is known about genes that underlie isolated single suture craniosynostosis. In this study, we hypothesize that rare copy number variants 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 187 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 7.4% 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 copy number variants in this cohort are potential novel candidate genes for craniosynostosis.
craniosynostosis; copy number variant; array comparative genomic hybridization; RUNX2
We demonstrate the successful application of exome sequencing1–3 to discover a gene for an autosomal dominant disorder, Kabuki syndrome (OMIM %147920). The exomes of ten unrelated probands were subjected to massively parallel sequencing. After filtering against SNP databases, there was no compelling candidate gene containing novel variants in all affected individuals. Less stringent filtering criteria permitted modest genetic heterogeneity or missing data, but identified multiple candidate genes. However, genotypic and phenotypic stratification highlighted MLL2, a Trithorax-group histone methyltransferase4, in which seven probands had novel nonsense or frameshift mutations. Follow-up Sanger sequencing detected MLL2 mutations in two of the three remaining cases, and in 26 of 43 additional cases. In families where parental DNA was available, the mutation was confirmed to be de novo (n = 12) or transmitted (n = 2) in concordance with phenotype. Our results strongly suggest that mutations in MLL2 are a major cause of Kabuki syndrome.
We identified 15q13.3 microdeletions encompassing the CHRNA7 gene in 12 of 1,223 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), which were not detected in 3,699 controls (joint P = 5.32 × 10−8). Most deletion carriers showed common IGE syndromes without other features previously associated with 15q13.3 microdeletions, such as intellectual disability, autism or schizophrenia. Our results indicate that 15q13.3 microdeletions constitute the most prevalent risk factor for common epilepsies identified to date.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsies account for 30% of all epilepsies. Despite a predominant genetic aetiology, the genetic factors predisposing to idiopathic generalized epilepsies remain elusive. Studies of structural genomic variations have revealed a significant excess of recurrent microdeletions at 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 in various neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. Microdeletions at 15q13.3 have recently been shown to constitute a strong genetic risk factor for common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes, implicating that other recurrent microdeletions may also be involved in epileptogenesis. This study aimed to investigate the impact of five microdeletions at the genomic hotspot regions 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 on the genetic risk to common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The candidate microdeletions were assessed by high-density single nucleotide polymorphism arrays in 1234 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy from North-western Europe and 3022 controls from the German population. Microdeletions were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and their breakpoints refined by array comparative genomic hybridization. In total, 22 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (1.8%) carried one of the five novel microdeletions compared with nine controls (0.3%) (odds ratio = 6.1; 95% confidence interval 2.8–13.2; χ2 = 26.7; 1 degree of freedom; P = 2.4 × 10−7). Microdeletions were observed at 1q21.1 [Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE)/control: 1/1], 15q11.2 (IGE/control: 12/6), 16p11.2 IGE/control: 1/0, 16p13.11 (IGE/control: 6/2) and 22q11.2 (IGE/control: 2/0). Significant associations with IGEs were found for the microdeletions at 15q11.2 (odds ratio = 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.8–13.2; P = 4.2 × 10−4) and 16p13.11 (odds ratio = 7.4; 95% confidence interval 1.3–74.7; P = 0.009). Including nine patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in this cohort with known 15q13.3 microdeletions (IGE/control: 9/0), parental transmission could be examined in 14 families. While 10 microdeletions were inherited (seven maternal and three paternal transmissions), four microdeletions occurred de novo at 15q13.3 (n = 1), 16p13.11 (n = 2) and 22q11.2 (n = 1). Eight of the transmitting parents were clinically unaffected, suggesting that the microdeletion itself is not sufficient to cause the epilepsy phenotype. Although the microdeletions investigated are individually rare (<1%) in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, they collectively seem to account for a significant fraction of the genetic variance in common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The present results indicate an involvement of microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 in epileptogenesis and strengthen the evidence that recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3 and 16p13.11 confer a pleiotropic susceptibility effect to a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders.
idiopathic generalized epilepsy; microdeletions; association; genetics
Microdeletion at chromosomal position 15q13.3 has been described in intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and recently in idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE). Using independent IGE cohorts, we first aimed to confirm the association of 15q13.3 deletions and IGE. We then set out to determine the relative occurrence of sporadic and familial cases and to examine the likelihood of having seizures for individuals with the microdeletion in familial cases. The 15q13.3 microdeletion was identified in 7 of 539 (1.3%) unrelated cases of IGE using quantitative PCR or SNP arrays and confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization analysis using probes specific to the 15q13.3 region. The inheritance of this lesion was tracked using family studies. Of the seven microdeletions identified in probands, three were de novo, two were transmitted from an unaffected parent and in two cases the parents were unavailable. Non-penetrance of the microdeletion was identified in 4/7 pedigrees and three pedigrees included other family members with IGE who lacked the 15q13.3 deletion. The odds ratio is 68 (95% confidence interval 29–181), indicating a pathogenic lesion predisposing to epilepsy with complex inheritance and incomplete penetrance for the IGE component of the phenotype in multiplex families.
We report the identification of a recurrent 520-kbp 16p12.1 microdeletion significantly associated with childhood developmental delay. The microdeletion was detected in 20/11,873 cases vs. 2/8,540 controls (p=0.0009, OR=7.2) and replicated in a second series of 22/9,254 cases vs. 6/6,299 controls (p=0.028, OR=2.5). Most deletions were inherited with carrier parents likely to manifest neuropsychiatric phenotypes (p=0.037, OR=6). Probands were more likely to carry an additional large CNV when compared to matched controls (10/42 cases, p=5.7×10-5, OR=6.65). Clinical features of cases with two mutations were distinct from and/or more severe than clinical features of patients carrying only the co-occurring mutation. Our data suggest a two-hit model in which the 16p12.1 microdeletion both predisposes to neuropsychiatric phenotypes as a single event and exacerbates neurodevelopmental phenotypes in association with other large deletions or duplications. Analysis of other microdeletions with variable expressivity suggests that this two-hit model may be more generally applicable to neuropsychiatric disease.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in humans with a prevalence of 1% and a lifetime incidence of 3%. Several genes have been identified in rare autosomal dominant and severe sporadic forms of epilepsy, but the genetic cause is unknown in the vast majority of cases. Copy number variants (CNVs) are known to play an important role in the genetic etiology of many neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability (ID), autism, and schizophrenia. Genome-wide studies of copy number variation in epilepsy have not been performed. We have applied whole-genome oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization to a cohort of 517 individuals with various idiopathic, non-lesional epilepsies. We detected one or more rare genic CNVs in 8.9% of affected individuals that are not present in 2,493 controls; five individuals had two rare CNVs. We identified CNVs in genes previously implicated in other neurodevelopmental disorders, including two deletions in AUTS2 and one deletion in CNTNAP2. Therefore, our findings indicate that rare CNVs are likely to contribute to a broad range of generalized and focal epilepsies. In addition, we find that 2.9% of patients carry deletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3, or 16p13.11, genomic hotspots previously associated with ID, autism, or schizophrenia. In summary, our findings suggest common etiological factors for seemingly diverse diseases such as ID, autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.
Epilepsy, a common neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, affects up to 3% of the population. In some cases, the epilepsy has a clear cause such as an abnormality in the brain or a head injury. However, in many cases there is no obvious cause. Numerous studies have shown that genetic factors are important in these types of epilepsy, but although several epilepsy genes are known, we can still only identify the genetic cause in a very small fraction of cases. In order to identify new genes that contribute to the genetic causes of epilepsy, we searched the human genome for deletions (missing copies) and duplications (extra copies) of genes in ∼500 patients with epilepsy that are not found in control individuals. Using this approach, we identified several large deletions that are important in at least 3% of epilepsy cases. Furthermore, we found new candidate genes, some of which are also thought to play a role in other related disorders such as autism and intellectual disability. These genes are candidates for further studies in patients with epilepsy.