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.
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
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.
Hereditary neuralgic amyotrophy (HNA) is an autosomal dominant disorder associated with recurrent episodes of focal neuropathy primarily affecting the brachial plexus. Point mutations in the SEPT9 gene have been previously identified as the molecular basis of HNA in some pedigrees. However in many families, including those from North America demonstrating a genetic founder haplotype, no sequence mutations have been detected. We report an intragenic 38 Kb SEPT9 duplication that is linked to HNA in 12 North American families that share the common founder haplotype. Analysis of the breakpoints showed that the duplication is identical in all pedigrees, and molecular analysis revealed that the duplication includes the 645 bp exon in which previous HNA mutations were found. The SEPT9 transcript variants that span this duplication contain two in-frame repeats of this exon, and immunoblotting demonstrates larger molecular weight SEPT9 protein isoforms. This exon also encodes for a majority of the SEPT9 N-terminal proline rich region suggesting that this region plays a role in the pathogenesis of HNA.
The human genome is enriched in interspersed segmental duplications that sensitize approximately 10% of our genome to recurrent microdeletions and microduplications as a result of unequal crossing over. We review the recent discovery of recurrent rearrangements within these genomic hotspots and their association with both syndromic and non-syndromic diseases. Studies of common complex genetic disease show that a subset of these recurrent events plays an important role in autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. The genomic hotspot model may provide a powerful approach for understanding the role of rare variants in common disease.
Duplications and deletions in the human genome can cause disease or predispose persons to disease. Advances in technologies to detect these changes allow for the routine identification of submicroscopic imbalances in large numbers of patients.
We tested for the presence of microdeletions and microduplications at a specific region of chromosome 1q21.1 in two groups of patients with unexplained mental retardation, autism, or congenital anomalies and in unaffected persons.
We identified 25 persons with a recurrent 1.35-Mb deletion within 1q21.1 from screening 5218 patients. The microdeletions had arisen de novo in eight patients, were inherited from a mildly affected parent in three patients, were inherited from an apparently unaffected parent in six patients, and were of unknown inheritance in eight patients. The deletion was absent in a series of 4737 control persons (P = 1.1×10−7). We found considerable variability in the level of phenotypic expression of the microdeletion; phenotypes included mild-to-moderate mental retardation, microcephaly, cardiac abnormalities, and cataracts. The reciprocal duplication was enriched in the nine children with mental retardation or autism spectrum disorder and other variable features (P = 0.02). We identified three deletions and three duplications of the 1q21.1 region in an independent sample of 788 patients with mental retardation and congenital anomalies.
We have identified recurrent molecular lesions that elude syndromic classification and whose disease manifestations must be considered in a broader context of development as opposed to being assigned to a specific disease. Clinical diagnosis in patients with these lesions may be most readily achieved on the basis of genotype rather than phenotype.
We report a recurrent microdeletion syndrome causing mental retardation, epilepsy and variable facial and digital dysmorphisms. We describe nine patients, including six probands; two with de novo deletions, two who inherited the deletion from an affected parent, and two with unknown inheritance. The proximal breakpoint of the largest deletion is contiguous with breakpoint 3 (BP3) of the Prader-Willi and Angelman syndrome region extending 3.95 Mb distally to BP5. A smaller 1.5 Mb deletion has proximal breakpoint within the larger deletion (BP4) and shares the same distal BP5. This recurrent 1.5 Mb deletion contains six genes, including a candidate gene for epilepsy (CHRNA7) that is likely responsible for the observed seizure phenotype. The BP4-BP5 region undergoes frequent inversion, suggesting a possible link between this inversion polymorphism and recurrent deletion. The frequency of these microdeletions in mental retardation cases is ~0.3% (6/2082 tested), a prevalence comparable to that of the Williams, Angelman, and Prader-Willi syndromes.
genomic disorder; array CGH; epilepsy; segmental duplication; CHRNA7
In this paper, we demonstrate the use of synthetic polyamide probes to fluorescently label heterochromatic regions on human chromosomes for discrimination in cytogenetic preparations and by flow cytometry. Polyamides bind to the minor groove of DNA in a sequence-specific manner. Unlike conventional sequence-specific DNA or RNA probes, polyamides can recognize their target sequence without the need to subject chromosomes to harsh denaturing conditions. For this study, we designed and synthesized a polyamide to target the TTCCA-motif repeated in the heterochromatic regions of chromosome 9, Y and 1. We demonstrate that the fluorescently labeled polyamide binds to its target sequence in both conventional cytogenetic preparations of metaphase chromosomes and suspended chromosomes without denaturation. Chromosomes 9 and Y can be discriminated and purified by flow sorting on the basis of polyamide binding and Hoechst 33258 staining. We generate chromosome 9- and Y-specific ‘paints’ from the sorted fractions. We demonstrate the utility of this technology by characterizing the sequence of an olfactory receptor gene that is duplicated on multiple chromosomes. By separating chromosome 9 from chromosomes 10–12 on the basis of polyamide fluorescence, we determine and differentiate the haplotypes of the highly similar copies of this gene on chromosomes 9 and 11.
15q13.3 microdeletions are the most common genetic findings identified in idiopathic generalized epilepsies to date, and they are 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 (CGH). We carried out detailed phenotyping of deletion carriers. In total, we identified four pediatric patients with 15q13.3 microdeletions, including one previously described patient. Two of four deletions were de novo, one deletion was inherited from an unaffected parent, and for one patient the 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 patients with epilepsy.
Intellectual disability; Idiopathic generalized epilepsy
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