Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with axonal spheroids (HDLS) is a rare autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) gene that often results in cognitive impairment, psychiatric disorders, motor dysfunction and seizure. We report familial cases of a novel CSF1R mutation causing HDLS similar to hydrocephalus. The patients initially presented with a gait disturbance and then developed progressive cognitive decline, urinary incontinence, epileptic seizures and became bedridden as the disease progressed. A brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan revealed striking ventricular enlargement and diffuse brain atrophy with frontotemporal predominance, which was later accompanied by white matter changes. Genetic testing in this family showed a novel c.2552T>C (p.L851P) mutation in exon 19 of the CSF1R gene. However, three gene carriers in the family remained clinically asymptomatic. Because of its heterogeneous clinical phenotypes, HDLS patients are often misdiagnosed with other diseases. This is the first genetically proven HDLS case resembling hydrocephalus, and the clinical symptoms of HDLS may be related to the specific genetic mutation.
Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are a cause of autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease (PD). Whether LRRK2 variants influence susceptibility to the commoner, sporadic forms of PD remains largely unknown. Data are particularly limited concerning the Asian population. In search for novel, biologically relevant variants, we sequenced the LRRK2 coding region in Taiwanese patients with PD. Four newly identified variants and another variant recently found in a Taiwanese PD family were tested for association with the disease in a sample of 608 PD cases and 373 ethnically matched controls. Heterozygosity for the Gly2385Arg variant was significantly more frequent among PD patients than controls (nominal p value=0.004, corrected for multiple comparisons=0.012, gender- and age-adjusted odds ratio=2.24, 95% C.I.: 1.29-3.88); this variant was uniformly distributed across genders and age strata. Two novel variants, Met1869Val and Glu1874Stop, were found in one PD case each; their pathogenic role remains, therefore, uncertain. The remaining two novel variants (Ala419Val and Pro755Leu) were present with similar frequency in cases and controls, and were therefore, interpreted as disease-unrelated polymorphisms. Our findings suggest that the LRRK2 Gly2385Arg is the first identified, functionally relevant variant, which acts as common risk factor for sporadic PD in the population of Chinese ethnicity.
Primary familial brain calcification (PFBC) is a rare disorder mostly characterized by calcium deposits in the basal ganglia and a wide spectrum of neurologic and psychiatric symptoms, typically inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. Recently, MYORG was reported as the first autosomal recessive causal gene in PFBC patients of Chinese and Middle Eastern origin. Herein, we describe the first PFBC patient of European descent found to carry a novel homozygous MYORG mutation (p.N511Tfs*243). Interestingly, the patient's father, a heterozygous carrier of the same mutation, showed diffuse bilateral cerebral calcifications with no symptoms other than very mild postural tremor.
Celia’s encephalopathy (progressive encephalopathy with/without lipodystrophy (PELD)) is a childhood neurodegenerative disorder with a fatal prognosis before the age of 10, due to the variant c.985C>T in the BSCL2 gene that causes a cryptic splicing site leading to skipping of exon 7. For years, different authors have reported cases of congenital generalized lipodystrophy due to the variant c.974dupG in BSCL2 associated with neurological manifestations of variable severity, although some of them clearly superimposable to PELD. To identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for these neurological alterations in two patients with c.974dupG. Clinical characterization, biochemistry, and neuroimaging studies of two girls carrying this variant. In silico analysis, PCR amplification, and BSCL2 cDNA sequencing. BSCL2-201 transcript expression, which lacks exon 7, by qPCR in fibroblasts from the index case, from a healthy child as a control and from two patients with PELD, and in leukocytes from the index case and her parents. One with a severe encephalopathy including a picture of intellectual deficiency, severe language impairment, myoclonic epilepsy, and lipodystrophy as described in PELD, dying at 9 years and 9 months of age. The other 2-year-old patient showed incipient signs of neurological involvement. In silico and cDNA sequencing studies showed that variant c.974dupG gives rise to skipping of exon 7. The expression of BSCL2-201 in fibroblasts was significantly higher in the index case than in the healthy child, although less than in the case with homozygous PELD due to c.985C>T variant. The expression of this transcript was approximately half in the healthy carrier parents of this patient. The c.974dupG variant leads to the skipping of exon 7 of the BSCL2 gene and is responsible for a variant of Celia’s encephalopathy, with variable phenotypic expression.
Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase-interacting multifunctional protein 1 (AIMP1) is a non-catalytic component of the multi-tRNA synthetase complex which catalyzes the ligation of amino acids to the correct tRNAs. Pathogenic variants in several aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases genes have been linked to various neurological disorders, including leukodystrophies and pontocerebellar hypoplasias (PCH). To date, loss-of-function variants in AIMP1 have been associated with hypomyelinating leukodystrophy-3 (MIM 260600). Here, we report a novel frameshift AIMP1 homozygous variant (c.160delA,p.Lys54Asnfs) in a child with pontocerebellar hypoplasia and simplified gyral pattern, a phenotype not been previously described with AIMP1 variants, thus expanding the phenotypic spectrum. AIMP1 should be included in diagnostic PCH gene panels.
Genetic mutations associated with brain malformations can lead to a spectrum of severity and it is often difficult to determine whether there are additional pathogenic variants contributing to the phenotype. Here, we present a family affected by a severe brain malformation including bilateral polymicrogyria, hydrocephalus, patchy white matter signal changes, and cerebellar and pontine hypoplasia with elongated cerebellar peduncles leading to the molar tooth sign. While the malformation is reminiscent of bilateral frontoparietal polymicrogyria (BFPP), the phenotype is more severe than previously reported and also includes features of Joubert syndrome (JBTS). Via exome sequencing, we identified homozygous truncating mutations in both ADGRG1/GPR56 and KIAA0556, which are known to cause BFPP and mild brain-specific JBTS, respectively. This study shows how two independent mutations can interact leading to complex brain malformations.
Intellectual disability poses a huge burden on the health care system, and it is one of the most common referral reasons to the genetic and child neurology clinic. Intellectual disability (ID) is genetically heterogeneous, and it is associated with several other neurological conditions. Exome sequencing is a robust genetic tool and has revolutionized the process of molecular diagnosis and novel gene discovery. Besides its diagnostic clinical value, novel gene discovery is prime in reverse genetics, when human mutations help to understand the function of a gene and may aid in better understanding of the human brain and nervous system. Using WES, we identified a biallelic truncating variant in DNAJA1 gene (c.511C>T p.(Gln171*) in a multiplex Saudi consanguineous family. The main phenotype shared between the siblings was intellectual disability and seizure disorder.
Celia's encephalopathy (progressive encephalopathy with/without lipodystrophy (PELD)) is a childhood neurodegenerative disorder with a fatal prognosis before the age of 10, due to the variant c.985C>T in the BSCL2 gene that causes a cryptic splicing site leading to skipping of exon 7. For years, different authors have reported cases of congenital generalized lipodystrophy due to the variant c.974dupG in BSCL2 associated with neurological manifestations of variable severity, although some of them clearly superimposable to PELD. To identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for these neurological alterations in two patients with c.974dupG. Clinical characterization, biochemistry, and neuroimaging studies of two girls carrying this variant. In silico analysis, PCR amplification, and BSCL2 cDNA sequencing. BSCL2-201 transcript expression, which lacks exon 7, by qPCR in fibroblasts from the index case, from a healthy child as a control and from two patients with PELD, and in leukocytes from the index case and her parents. One with a severe encephalopathy including a picture of intellectual deficiency, severe language impairment, myoclonic epilepsy, and lipodystrophy as described in PELD, dying at 9years and 9months of age. The other 2-year-old patient showed incipient signs of neurological involvement. In silico and cDNA sequencing studies showed that variant c.974dupG gives rise to skipping of exon 7. The expression of BSCL2-201 in fibroblasts was significantly higher in the index case than in the healthy child, although less than in the case with homozygous PELD due to c.985C>T variant. The expression of this transcript was approximately half in the healthy carrier parents of this patient. The c.974dupG variant leads to the skipping of exon 7 of the BSCL2 gene and is responsible for a variant of Celia's encephalopathy, with variable phenotypic expression.
Intermediate-length CAG repeats in ATXN2 have been widely shown to be a risk factor for sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SALS). To evaluate the association of ATXN2 intermediate-length CAG repeat alleles with an increased risk of SALS, we investigated distributions of CAG repeat alleles in 394 patients with SALS and 490 control individuals in the Japanese population. In the intermediate-length repeat units of 29 or more, we identified one SALS patient with 31 repeat units and two control individuals with 30 repeat units. Thus, no significant differences in the carrier frequency of intermediate-length CAG repeat alleles were detected between patients with SALS and control individuals. When we investigated the distribution of large normal alleles defined as ATXN2 CAG repeats ranging from 24 up to 33 in the Japanese population compared with those in other populations in previous studies, the frequency of large normal alleles was significantly higher in the European and North American series than in the Japanese series. Moreover, these frequencies in the Turkish, Chinese, Korean, and Brazilian (Latin American) series were also higher than that in the Japanese series. These results raise the possibility that the frequencies of large normal alleles in individual populations underlie the frequencies of ALS risk alleles in the corresponding populations.
Intracranial aneurysms (IA) are weakened outpouchings of the arterial wall in the cerebrovasculature. Rupture of an IA often leads to devastating consequences. The early identification of IA patients is crucial for management of their condition. A genetic variant at rs10230207, located nearby the HDAC9, TWIST1, and FERD3L genes, is associated with IA. HDAC9 is a class IIa histone deacetylase that mediates vascular smooth muscle cell dysfunction. TWIST1 is a mechanosensitive transcription factor and its expression is reduced in unstable carotid atherosclerotic plaques. In this study, the expression of the HDAC9, TWIST1, and FERD3L genes was characterized and associated with the presence of the rs10230207 genetic variant. Allelic discrimination and gene expression analysis were performed using lymphoblasts from 85 population controls and 109 IA patients. Subjects that were heterozygous (GT) within rs10230207 were 4.32 times more likely to have an IA than those that were homozygous for the reference allele (GG; 95%CI 1.23 to 14.16). Subjects that were homozygous (TT) were 8.27 times more likely to have an IA than those that were GG (95%CI 2.45 to 27.85). While the presence of the risk allele was not associated with changes in FERD3L gene expression, the risk allele was associated with increased HDAC9 and decrease in TWIST1 mRNA expression. The significant inverse correlation between HDAC9 and TWIST1 gene expression suggests that changes in the expression of both of genes may contribute to the formation of IAs.
We previously reported a pathogenic de novo p.R342W mutation in the transcriptional corepressor CTBP1 in four independent patients with neurodevelopmental disabilities . Here, we report the clinical phenotypes of seven additional individuals with the same recurrent de novo CTBP1 mutation. Within this cohort, we identified consistent CtBP1-related phenotypes of intellectual disability, ataxia, hypotonia, and tooth enamel defects present in most patients. The R342W mutation in CtBP1 is located within a region implicated in a high affinity-binding cleft for CtBP-interacting proteins. Unbiased proteomic analysis demonstrated reduced interaction of several chromatin-modifying factors with the CtBP1 W342 mutant. Genome-wide transcriptome analysis in human glioblastoma cell lines expressing -CtBP1 R342 (wt) or W342 mutation revealed changes in the expression profiles of genes controlling multiple cellular processes. Patient-derived dermal fibroblasts were found to be more sensitive to apoptosis during acute glucose deprivation compared to controls. Glucose deprivation strongly activated the BH3-only pro-apoptotic gene NOXA, suggesting a link between enhanced cell death and NOXA expression in patient fibroblasts. Our results suggest that context-dependent relief of transcriptional repression of the CtBP1 mutant W342 allele may contribute to deregulation of apoptosis in target tissues of patients leading to neurodevelopmental phenotypes.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) represents a heterogeneous group of hereditary peripheral neuropathies. We previously reported a CMT locus on chromosome 19q13.3 segregating with the disease in a large Costa Rican family with axonal neuropathy and autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance (CMT2B2). We proposed a homozygous missense variant in the Mediator complex 25 (MED25) gene as causative of the disease. Nevertheless, the fact that no other CMT individuals with MED25 variants were reported to date led us to reevaluate the original family. Using exome sequencing, we now identified a homozygous nonsense variant (p.Gln517ter) in the last exon of an adjacent gene, the polynucleotide kinase 3′-phosphatase (PNKP) gene. It encodes a DNA repair protein recently associated with recessive ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 4 (AOA4) and microcephaly, seizures, and developmental delay (MCSZ). Subsequently, five unrelated Costa Rican CMT2 subjects initially identified as being heterozygous for the same MED25 variant were found to be also compound heterozygote for PNKP. All were heterozygous for the same variant found homozygous in the large family and a second one previously associated with ataxia (p.Thr408del). Detailed clinical reassessment of the initial family and the new individuals revealed in all an adult-onset slowly progressive CMT2 associated with signs of cerebellar dysfunction such as slurred speech and oculomotor involvement, but neither microcephaly, seizures, nor developmental delay. We propose that PKNP variants are the major causative variant for the CMT2 phenotype in these individuals and that the milder clinical manifestation is due to an allelic effect.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is a form of inherited peripheral neuropathy that affects motor and sensory neurons. To identify the causative gene in a consanguineous family with autosomal recessive CMT (AR-CMT), we employed a combination of linkage analysis and whole exome sequencing. After excluding known AR-CMT genes, genome-wide linkage analysis mapped the disease locus to a 7.48-Mb interval on chromosome 14q32.11–q32.33, flanked by the markers rs2124843 and rs4983409. Whole exome sequencing identified two non-synonymous variants (p.T40P and p.H915Y) in the AHNAK2 gene that segregated with the disease in the family. Pathogenic predictions indicated that p.T40P is the likely causative allele. Analysis of AHNAK2 expression in the AR-CMT patient fibroblasts showed significantly reduced mRNA and protein levels. AHNAK2 binds directly to periaxin which is encoded by the PRX gene, and PRX mutations are associated with another form of AR-CMT (CMT4F). The altered expression of mutant AHNAK2 may disrupt the AHNAK2-PRX interaction in which one of its known functions is to regulate myelination.
Numerous studies have elucidated the genetics of Parkinson's disease; however, the aetiology of the majority of sporadic cases has not yet been resolved. We hypothesized that epigenetic variations could be associated with PD and evaluated the DNA methylation pattern in PD patients compared to brothers or twins without PD. The methylation of DNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 62 discordant siblings including 24 monozygotic twins was characterized with Illumina DNA Methylation 450K bead arrays and subsequently validated in two independent cohorts: 221 PD vs. 227 healthy individuals (cohort 1) applying Illumina's VeraCode and 472 PD patients vs. 487 controls (cohort 2) using pyrosequencing. We choose a delta beta of > 15 % and selected 62 differentially methylated CpGs in 51 genes from the discordant siblings. Among them, three displayed multiple CpGs per gene: microRNA 886 (MIR886, 10 CpGs), phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D, 2 CpGs) and tripartite motif-containing 34 (TRIM34, 2 CpGs). PDE4D was confirmed in both cohorts (p value 2.44e-05). In addition, for biomarker construction, we used the penalized logistic regression model, resulting in a signature of eight CpGs with an AUC of 0.77. Our findings suggest that a distinct level of PD susceptibility stems from individual, epigenetic modifications of specific genes. We identified a signature of CpGs in blood cells that could separate control from disease with a reasonable discriminatory power, holding promise for future epigenetically based biomarker development.
Defects in dystroglycan post-translational modification result in congenital muscular dystrophy with or without additional eye and brain involvement, are referred to as secondary dystroglycanopathies and have been associated with mutations in 11 different genes encoding glycosyltransferases or associated proteins. However, only one patient with a mutation in the dystroglycan encoding gene DAG1 itself has been described before. We here report a homozygous novel DAG1 missense mutation c.2006G>T predicted to result in the amino acid substitution p.Cys669Phe in the β-subunit of dystroglycan in two Libyan siblings. The affected girls presented with a severe muscle–eye–brain disease-like phenotype with distinct additional findings of macrocephaly and extended bilateral multicystic white matter disease, overlapping with the cerebral findings in patients with megalencephalic leucoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts. This novel clinical phenotype observed in our patients further expands the clinical spectrum of dystroglycanopathies and suggests a role of DAG1 not only for dystroglycanopathies but also for some forms of more extensive and multicystic leucodystrophy.
Patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently harbour chromosome rearrangements and segmental aneuploidies, which allow us to identify candidate genes. In a boy with mild facial dysmorphisms, speech delay and ASD, we reconstructed by karyotyping, FISH and SNP array-based segmental aneuploidy profiling a highly complex chromosomal rearrangement involving at least three breaks in chromosome 1 and seven breaks in chromosome 7. Chromosome banding revealed an inversion of region 7q32.1–7q35 on the derivative chromosome 7. FISH with region-specific BACs mapped both inversion breakpoints and revealed additional breaks and structural changes in the CNTNAP2 gene. Two gene segments were transposed and inserted into the 1q31.2 region, while the CNTNAP2 segment between the two transposed parts as well as intron 13 to the 5-UTR were retained on the der(7). SNP array analysis revealed an additional de novo deletion encompassing the distal part of intron1 and exon 2 of CNTNAP2, which contains FOXP2 binding sites. Second, we found another de novo deletion on chromosome 1q41, containing 15 annotated genes, including KCTD3 and USH2A. Disruptions of the CNTNAP2 gene have been associated with ASD and with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). Comparison of disruptions of CNTNAP2 in patients with GTS and ASD suggests that large proximal disruptions result in either GTS or ASD, while relatively small distal disruptions may be phenotypically neutral. For full-blown ASD to develop, a proximal disruption of CNTNAP2 may have to occur concomitantly with additional genome mutations such as hemizygous deletions of the KCTD3 and USH2A genes.
Here, we report brain white matter alterations in individuals clinically and genetically diagnosed with periodontal Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, a rare disease characterized by premature loss of teeth and connective tissue abnormalities. Eight individuals of two families clinically diagnosed with periodontal Ehlers–Danlos syndrome were included in the present study and underwent general physical, dental, and neurological examination. Whole exome sequencing was performed, and all patients included in the study underwent MRI of the brain. Whole exome sequencing revealed heterozygous C1R mutations c.926G>T (p.Cys309Phe, Family A) and c.149_150TC>AT (p.Val50Asp, Family B). All adult individuals (n = 7; age range 31 to 68 years) investigated by MRI had brain white matter abnormalities. The MRI of one investigated child aged 8 years was normal. The MRI pattern was suggestive of an underlying small vessel disease that is progressive with age. As observed in other leukoencephalopathies related to microangiopathies, the extent of the white matter changes was disproportionate to the neurologic features. Medical history revealed recurrent headaches or depression in some cases. Neurological examination was unremarkable in all individuals but one had mild cognitive decline and ataxia and experienced a seizure. The observation that periodontal Ehlers–Danlos syndrome caused by missense mutations in C1R is consistently associated with a leukoencephalopathy opens a new pathogenic link between the classical complement pathway, connective tissue, brain small vessels, and brain white matter abnormalities.
Progressive myoclonus epilepsy-ataxia syndrome (EPM5) is an autosomal recessive form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy that has been associated with a homozygous missense mutation in PRICKLE1. We report a 23-year-old male who died shortly after refractory convulsion and respiratory failure. Autopsy showed unilateral hippocampal malformation without significant neuronal loss or gliosis. Genetic analysis that targeted both epilepsy and cardiac disease using next-generation sequencing revealed two variants of PRICKLE1. Additional investigation showed that the patient’s father (p.Asp760del) and mother (p.Asp201Asn) each had a mutation in this gene. The present case shows that EPM5 can also be caused by compound heterozygous mutations.
Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) is an early-onset neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the association of spastic ataxia and sensorimotor neuropathy. Additional features include retinal changes and cognitive impairment. Today, next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques are allowing the rapid identification of a growing number of missense variants, even in less typical forms of the disease, but the pathogenic significance of these changes is often difficult to establish on the basis of classic bioinformatics criteria and genotype/phenotype correlations. Herein, we describe two novel cases of missense mutations in SACS. The two individuals were identified during the genetic screening of a large cohort of patients with inherited ataxias. We discuss how protein studies and specialized ophthalmological investigations could represent useful pointers for the interpretation of genetic data. Combination of these tools with NGS for rapid genotyping might help to identify new true ARSACS cases.