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1.  Fibulin-5 mutations link inherited neuropathies, age-related macular degeneration and hyperelastic skin 
Brain : a journal of neurology  2011;134(Pt 6):1839-1852.
To identify the disease-causing gene responsible for an autosomal dominantly inherited Charcot–Marie–Tooth neuropathy subtype in a family excluded for mutations in the common Charcot–Marie–Tooth genes, we used array-based sequence capture to simultaneously analyse the disease-linked protein coding exome at chromosome 14q32. A missense mutation in fibulin-5, encoding a widely expressed constituent of the extracellular matrix that has an essential role in elastic fibre assembly and has been shown to cause cutis laxa, was detected as the only novel non-synonymous sequence variant within the disease interval. Screening of 112 index probands with unclassified Charcot–Marie–Tooth neuropathies detected two further fibulin-5 missense mutations in two families with Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease and hyperextensible skin. Since fibulin-5 mutations have been described in patients with age-related macular degeneration, an additional 300 probands with exudative age-related macular degeneration were included in this study. Two further fibulin-5 missense mutations were identified in six patients. A mild to severe peripheral neuropathy was detected in the majority of patients with age-related macular degeneration carrying mutations in fibulin-5. This study identifies fibulin-5 as a gene involved in Charcot–Marie–Tooth neuropathies and reveals heterozygous fibulin-5 mutations in 2% of our patients with age-related macular degeneration. Furthermore, it adumbrates a new syndrome by linking concurrent pathologic alterations affecting peripheral nerves, eyes and skin to mutations in the fibulin-5 gene.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr076
PMCID: PMC3272386  PMID: 21576112
age-related macular degeneration; CMT; cutis laxa; fibulin-5; neuropathy
2.  Genetic spectrum of hereditary neuropathies with onset in the first year of life 
Brain  2011;134(9):2664-2676.
Early onset hereditary motor and sensory neuropathies are rare disorders encompassing congenital hypomyelinating neuropathy with disease onset in the direct post-natal period and Dejerine–Sottas neuropathy starting in infancy. The clinical spectrum, however, reaches beyond the boundaries of these two historically defined disease entities. De novo dominant mutations in PMP22, MPZ and EGR2 are known to be a typical cause of very early onset hereditary neuropathies. In addition, mutations in several other dominant and recessive genes for Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease may lead to similar phenotypes. To estimate mutation frequencies and to gain detailed insights into the genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of early onset hereditary neuropathies, we selected a heterogeneous cohort of 77 unrelated patients who presented with symptoms of peripheral neuropathy within the first year of life. The majority of these patients were isolated in their family. We performed systematic mutation screening by means of direct sequencing of the coding regions of 11 genes: MFN2, PMP22, MPZ, EGR2, GDAP1, NEFL, FGD4, MTMR2, PRX, SBF2 and SH3TC2. In addition, screening for the Charcot–Marie–Tooth type 1A duplication on chromosome 17p11.2-12 was performed. In 35 patients (45%), mutations were identified. Mutations in MPZ, PMP22 and EGR2 were found most frequently in patients presenting with early hypotonia and breathing difficulties. The recessive genes FGD4, PRX, MTMR2, SBF2, SH3TC2 and GDAP1 were mutated in patients presenting with early foot deformities and variable delay in motor milestones after an uneventful neonatal period. Several patients displaying congenital foot deformities but an otherwise normal early development carried the Charcot–Marie–Tooth type 1A duplication. This study clearly illustrates the genetic heterogeneity underlying hereditary neuropathies with infantile onset.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr184
PMCID: PMC3170533  PMID: 21840889
early onset hereditary neuropathies; congenital hypomyelinating neuropathy; Dejerine–Sottas neuropathy; genotype–phenotype correlations; Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease
3.  Dominant mutations in the cation channel gene transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 cause an unusual spectrum of neuropathies 
Brain  2010;133(6):1798-1809.
Hereditary neuropathies form a heterogeneous group of disorders for which over 40 causal genes have been identified to date. Recently, dominant mutations in the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 gene were found to be associated with three distinct neuromuscular phenotypes: hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy 2C, scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy and congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 encodes a cation channel previously implicated in several types of dominantly inherited bone dysplasia syndromes. We performed DNA sequencing of the coding regions of transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 in a cohort of 145 patients with various types of hereditary neuropathy and identified five different heterozygous missense mutations in eight unrelated families. One mutation arose de novo in an isolated patient, and the remainder segregated in families. Two of the mutations were recurrent in unrelated families. Four mutations in transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 targeted conserved arginine residues in the ankyrin repeat domain, which is believed to be important in protein–protein interactions. Striking phenotypic variability between and within families was observed. The majority of patients displayed a predominantly, or pure, motor neuropathy with axonal characteristics observed on electrophysiological testing. The age of onset varied widely, ranging from congenital to late adulthood onset. Various combinations of additional features were present in most patients including vocal fold paralysis, scapular weakness, contractures and hearing loss. We identified six asymptomatic mutation carriers, indicating reduced penetrance of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 defects. This finding is relatively unusual in the context of hereditary neuropathies and has important implications for diagnostic testing and genetic counselling.
doi:10.1093/brain/awq109
PMCID: PMC2912694  PMID: 20460441
transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 gene; hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy type 2C; scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy; congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy; skeletal dysplasia
4.  Genes for hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies: a genotype–phenotype correlation 
Brain  2009;132(10):2699-2711.
Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies (HSAN) are clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders characterized by axonal atrophy and degeneration, exclusively or predominantly affecting the sensory and autonomic neurons. So far, disease-associated mutations have been identified in seven genes: two genes for autosomal dominant (SPTLC1 and RAB7) and five genes for autosomal recessive forms of HSAN (WNK1/HSN2, NTRK1, NGFB, CCT5 and IKBKAP). We performed a systematic mutation screening of the coding sequences of six of these genes on a cohort of 100 familial and isolated patients diagnosed with HSAN. In addition, we screened the functional candidate gene NGFR (p75/NTR) encoding the nerve growth factor receptor. We identified disease-causing mutations in SPTLC1, RAB7, WNK1/HSN2 and NTRK1 in 19 patients, of which three mutations have not previously been reported. The phenotypes associated with mutations in NTRK1 and WNK1/HSN2 typically consisted of congenital insensitivity to pain and anhidrosis, and early-onset ulcero-mutilating sensory neuropathy, respectively. RAB7 mutations were only found in patients with a Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 2B (CMT2B) phenotype, an axonal sensory-motor neuropathy with pronounced ulcero-mutilations. In SPTLC1, we detected a novel mutation (S331F) corresponding to a previously unknown severe and early-onset HSAN phenotype. No mutations were found in NGFB, CCT5 and NGFR. Overall disease-associated mutations were found in 19% of the studied patient group, suggesting that additional genes are associated with HSAN. Our genotype–phenotype correlation study broadens the spectrum of HSAN and provides additional insights for molecular and clinical diagnosis.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp198
PMCID: PMC2759337  PMID: 19651702
HSAN; SPTLC1; RAB7; WNK1/HSN2; NTRK1

Results 1-4 (4)