Scientific Discoveries

Summary of contributions to understanding of genes by IGM

IGM scientists have led or participated with colleagues and consortia in either the discovery or definitive phenotype expansion of over 30 human disease genes and counting.  Many of these genes are the focus of ongoing precision medicine studies involving IGM scientists and a broad network of collaborators.   Follow the link for each gene below to see references to papers introducing these disease genes as well as IGM papers focused on assessing the full clinical presentation and biological causes.   


Category (Novel Disease Gene vs. Phenotype Expansion)




Phenotype Expansion

(Epi, Epilepsy Phenome/Genome et al. 2013)



Novel Disease Gene

(Ruzzo, Capo-Chichi et al. 2013)



Novel Disease Gene

(Shashi, Pena et al. 2017)



Phenotype Expansion

(Heinzen, Swoboda et al. 2012)


(Panagiotakaki, De Grandis et al. 2015)


Novel Disease Gene

(Shashi, Magiera et al. 2018)



Novel Disease Gene

(Lessel, Schob et al. 2017)



Novel Disease Gene

(Farhan, Howrigan et al. 2019)



Novel Disease Gene

(Euro, Epilepsy Phenome/Genome et al. 2014)

First identified in 2013 paper as a de novo variants in 2 EE cases.  Statistical evidence provided in 2014 paper

(Epi, Epilepsy Phenome/Genome et al. 2013)


Novel Disease Gene

(Dobbs, Dominguez Conde et al. 2015)



Phenotype Expansion

(Epi, Epilepsy Phenome/Genome et al. 2013)



Novel Disease Gene

(Hemati, Revah-Politi et al. 2018)


(Petrovski, Kury et al. 2016)

(Revah-Politi, Sands et al. 1993)



Novel Disease Gene

(Epi, Epilepsy Phenome/Genome et al. 2013)

First reported in Need 2012.

(Need, Shashi et al. 2012)


Novel Disease Gene

(Marcogliese, Shashi et al. 2018)


KCNQ3 (Gain of Function)

Phenotype Expansion due to new disease mechanism (GOF vs. previously described LOFs)

(Sands, Miceli et al. 2019)

Gain of Function mechanism


Phenotype expansion

(Nicolas, Kenna et al. 2018)



Novel Disease Gene

(Verheije, Kupchik et al. 2019)



Novel Disease Gene

(Schoch, Meng et al. 2017)



Confirmed Association with Epilepsy

(Mulhern, Stumpel et al. 2018)



New Disease mechanism

(Revah-Politi, Ganapathi et al. 2017)



Novel Disease Gene

(Enns, Shashi et al. 2014)

Was first reported in Need et. al.

(Need, Shashi et al. 2012)


Novel Disease Gene

(Wu, Fallini et al. 2012)



Novel Disease Gene

(Ombrello, Remmers et al. 2012)



Phenotype Expansion

(Phoon, Halvorsen et al. 2020)



Novel Disease Gene

(Myers, Stong et al. 2017)


PTPN11 (metachondromatosis)

New Disease Mechanism

(Sobreira, Cirulli et al. 2010)



Novel Disease Gene

(Hiatt, Neu et al. 2018)



Novel Disease Gene

(Heimer, Marek-Yagel et al. 2015)



Elucidate molecular phenotype

(Young, Boulanger-Weill et al. 2015)



Novel Disease Gene

(Cirulli, Lasseigne et al. 2015)


(Pottier, Bieniek et al. 2015)


Phenotype Expansion

(Oz-Levi, Ben-Zeev et al. 2012)


(Heimer, Oz-Levi et al. 2016)


Novel Disease Gene

(Martin, Sarlos et al. 2018)



Annotated References

Cirulli, E. T., et al. (2015). "Exome sequencing in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis identifies risk genes and pathways." Science 347(6229): 1436-1441.

              Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurological disease with no effective treatment. We report the results of a moderate-scale sequencing study aimed at increasing the number of genes known to contribute to predisposition for ALS. We performed whole-exome sequencing of 2869 ALS patients and 6405 controls. Several known ALS genes were found to be associated, and TBK1 (the gene encoding TANK-binding kinase 1) was identified as an ALS gene. TBK1 is known to bind to and phosphorylate a number of proteins involved in innate immunity and autophagy, including optineurin (OPTN) and p62 (SQSTM1/sequestosome), both of which have also been implicated in ALS. These observations reveal a key role of the autophagic pathway in ALS and suggest specific targets for therapeutic intervention.


Dobbs, K., et al. (2015). "Inherited DOCK2 Deficiency in Patients with Early-Onset Invasive Infections." N Engl J Med 372(25): 2409-2422.

              Background Combined immunodeficiencies are marked by inborn errors of T-cell immunity in which the T cells that are present are quantitatively or functionally deficient. Impaired humoral immunity is also common. Patients have severe infections, autoimmunity, or both. The specific molecular, cellular, and clinical features of many types of combined immunodeficiencies remain unknown. Methods We performed genetic and cellular immunologic studies involving five unrelated children with early-onset invasive bacterial and viral infections, lymphopenia, and defective T-cell, B-cell, and natural killer (NK)-cell responses. Two patients died early in childhood; after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, the other three had normalization of T-cell function and clinical improvement. Results We identified biallelic mutations in the dedicator of cytokinesis 2 gene (DOCK2) in these five patients. RAC1 activation was impaired in the T cells. Chemokine-induced migration and actin polymerization were defective in the T cells, B cells, and NK cells. NK-cell degranulation was also affected. Interferon-alpha and interferon-lambda production by peripheral-blood mononuclear cells was diminished after viral infection. Moreover, in DOCK2-deficient fibroblasts, viral replication was increased and virus-induced cell death was enhanced; these conditions were normalized by treatment with interferon alfa-2b or after expression of wild-type DOCK2. Conclusions Autosomal recessive DOCK2 deficiency is a new mendelian disorder with pleiotropic defects of hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic immunity. Children with clinical features of combined immunodeficiencies, especially with early-onset, invasive infections, may have this condition. (Supported by the National Institutes of Health and others.).


Enns, G. M., et al. (2014). "Mutations in NGLY1 cause an inherited disorder of the endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation pathway." Genet Med 16(10): 751-758.

              PURPOSE: The endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation pathway is responsible for the translocation of misfolded proteins across the endoplasmic reticulum membrane into the cytosol for subsequent degradation by the proteasome. To define the phenotype associated with a novel inherited disorder of cytosolic endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation pathway dysfunction, we studied a series of eight patients with deficiency of N-glycanase 1. METHODS: Whole-genome, whole-exome, or standard Sanger sequencing techniques were employed. Retrospective chart reviews were performed in order to obtain clinical data. RESULTS: All patients had global developmental delay, a movement disorder, and hypotonia. Other common findings included hypolacrima or alacrima (7/8), elevated liver transaminases (6/7), microcephaly (6/8), diminished reflexes (6/8), hepatocyte cytoplasmic storage material or vacuolization (5/6), and seizures (4/8). The nonsense mutation c.1201A>T (p.R401X) was the most common deleterious allele. CONCLUSION: NGLY1 deficiency is a novel autosomal recessive disorder of the endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation pathway associated with neurological dysfunction, abnormal tear production, and liver disease. The majority of patients detected to date carry a specific nonsense mutation that appears to be associated with severe disease. The phenotypic spectrum is likely to enlarge as cases with a broader range of mutations are detected.


Epi, K. C., et al. (2013). "De novo mutations in epileptic encephalopathies." Nature 501(7466): 217-221.

              Epileptic encephalopathies are a devastating group of severe childhood epilepsy disorders for which the cause is often unknown. Here we report a screen for de novo mutations in patients with two classical epileptic encephalopathies: infantile spasms (n = 149) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (n = 115). We sequenced the exomes of 264 probands, and their parents, and confirmed 329 de novo mutations. A likelihood analysis showed a significant excess of de novo mutations in the approximately 4,000 genes that are the most intolerant to functional genetic variation in the human population (P = 2.9 x 10(-3)). Among these are GABRB3, with de novo mutations in four patients, and ALG13, with the same de novo mutation in two patients; both genes show clear statistical evidence of association with epileptic encephalopathy. Given the relevant site-specific mutation rates, the probabilities of these outcomes occurring by chance are P = 4.1 x 10(-10) and P = 7.8 x 10(-12), respectively. Other genes with de novo mutations in this cohort include CACNA1A, CHD2, FLNA, GABRA1, GRIN1, GRIN2B, HNRNPU, IQSEC2, MTOR and NEDD4L. Finally, we show that the de novo mutations observed are enriched in specific gene sets including genes regulated by the fragile X protein (P < 10(-8)), as has been reported previously for autism spectrum disorders.


Euro, E.-R. E. S. C., et al. (2014). "De novo mutations in synaptic transmission genes including DNM1 cause epileptic encephalopathies." Am J Hum Genet 95(4): 360-370.

              Emerging evidence indicates that epileptic encephalopathies are genetically highly heterogeneous, underscoring the need for large cohorts of well-characterized individuals to further define the genetic landscape. Through a collaboration between two consortia (EuroEPINOMICS and Epi4K/EPGP), we analyzed exome-sequencing data of 356 trios with the "classical" epileptic encephalopathies, infantile spasms and Lennox Gastaut syndrome, including 264 trios previously analyzed by the Epi4K/EPGP consortium. In this expanded cohort, we find 429 de novo mutations, including de novo mutations in DNM1 in five individuals and de novo mutations in GABBR2, FASN, and RYR3 in two individuals each. Unlike previous studies, this cohort is sufficiently large to show a significant excess of de novo mutations in epileptic encephalopathy probands compared to the general population using a likelihood analysis (p = 8.2 x 10(-4)), supporting a prominent role for de novo mutations in epileptic encephalopathies. We bring statistical evidence that mutations in DNM1 cause epileptic encephalopathy, find suggestive evidence for a role of three additional genes, and show that at least 12% of analyzed individuals have an identifiable causal de novo mutation. Strikingly, 75% of mutations in these probands are predicted to disrupt a protein involved in regulating synaptic transmission, and there is a significant enrichment of de novo mutations in genes in this pathway in the entire cohort as well. These findings emphasize an important role for synaptic dysregulation in epileptic encephalopathies, above and beyond that caused by ion channel dysfunction.


Farhan, S. M. K., et al. (2019). "Exome sequencing in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis implicates a novel gene, DNAJC7, encoding a heat-shock protein." Nat Neurosci 22(12): 1966-1974.

              To discover novel genes underlying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we aggregated exomes from 3,864 cases and 7,839 ancestry-matched controls. We observed a significant excess of rare protein-truncating variants among ALS cases, and these variants were concentrated in constrained genes. Through gene level analyses, we replicated known ALS genes including SOD1, NEK1 and FUS. We also observed multiple distinct protein-truncating variants in a highly constrained gene, DNAJC7. The signal in DNAJC7 exceeded genome-wide significance, and immunoblotting assays showed depletion of DNAJC7 protein in fibroblasts in a patient with ALS carrying the p.Arg156Ter variant. DNAJC7 encodes a member of the heat-shock protein family, HSP40, which, along with HSP70 proteins, facilitates protein homeostasis, including folding of newly synthesized polypeptides and clearance of degraded proteins. When these processes are not regulated, misfolding and accumulation of aberrant proteins can occur and lead to protein aggregation, which is a pathological hallmark of neurodegeneration. Our results highlight DNAJC7 as a novel gene for ALS.


Freischmidt, A., et al. (2015). "Haploinsufficiency of TBK1 causes familial ALS and fronto-temporal dementia." Nat Neurosci 18(5): 631-636.

              Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a genetically heterogeneous neurodegenerative syndrome hallmarked by adult-onset loss of motor neurons. We performed exome sequencing of 252 familial ALS (fALS) and 827 control individuals. Gene-based rare variant analysis identified an exome-wide significant enrichment of eight loss-of-function (LoF) mutations in TBK1 (encoding TANK-binding kinase 1) in 13 fALS pedigrees. No enrichment of LoF mutations was observed in a targeted mutation screen of 1,010 sporadic ALS and 650 additional control individuals. Linkage analysis in four families gave an aggregate LOD score of 4.6. In vitro experiments confirmed the loss of expression of TBK1 LoF mutant alleles, or loss of interaction of the C-terminal TBK1 coiled-coil domain (CCD2) mutants with the TBK1 adaptor protein optineurin, which has been shown to be involved in ALS pathogenesis. We conclude that haploinsufficiency of TBK1 causes ALS and fronto-temporal dementia.


Heimer, G., et al. (2015). "SLC1A4 mutations cause a novel disorder of intellectual disability, progressive microcephaly, spasticity and thin corpus callosum." Clin Genet 88(4): 327-335.

              Two unrelated patients, presenting with significant global developmental delay, severe progressive microcephaly, seizures, spasticity and thin corpus callosum (CC) underwent trio whole-exome sequencing. No candidate variant was found in any known genes related to the phenotype. However, crossing the data of the patients illustrated that they both manifested pathogenic variants in the SLC1A4 gene which codes the ASCT1 transporter of serine and other neutral amino acids. The Ashkenazi patient is homozygous for a deleterious missense c.766G>A, p.(E256K) mutation whereas the Ashkenazi-Iraqi patient is compound heterozygous for this mutation and a nonsense c.945delTT, p.(Leu315Hisfs*42) mutation. Structural prediction demonstrates truncation of significant portion of the protein by the nonsense mutation and speculates functional disruption by the missense mutation. Both mutations are extremely rare in general population databases, however, the missense mutation was found in heterozygous mode in 1:100 Jewish Ashkenazi controls suggesting a higher carrier rate among Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that SLC1A4 is the disease causing gene of a novel neurologic disorder manifesting with significant intellectual disability, severe postnatal microcephaly, spasticity and thin CC. The role of SLC1A4 in the serine transport from astrocytes to neurons suggests a possible pathomechanism for this disease and implies a potential therapeutic approach.


Heimer, G., et al. (2016). "TECPR2 mutations cause a new subtype of familial dysautonomia like hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy with intellectual disability." Eur J Paediatr Neurol 20(1): 69-79.

              BACKGROUND: TECPR2 was first described as a disease causing gene when the c.3416delT frameshift mutation was found in five Jewish Bukharian patients with similar features. It was suggested to constitute a new subtype of complex hereditary spastic paraparesis (SPG49). RESULTS: We report here 3 additional patients from unrelated non-Bukharian families, harboring two novel mutations (c.1319delT, c.C566T) in this gene. Accumulating clinical data clarifies that in addition to intellectual disability and evolving spasticity the main disabling feature of this unique disorder is autonomic-sensory neuropathy accompanied by chronic respiratory disease and paroxysmal autonomic events. CONCLUSION: We suggest that the disease should therefore be classified as a new subtype of hereditary sensory-autonomic neuropathy. The discovery of additional mutations in non-Bukharian patients implies that this disease might be more common than previously appreciated and should therefore be considered in undiagnosed cases of intellectual disability with autonomic features and respiratory symptoms regardless of demographic origin.


Heinzen, E. L., et al. (2012). "De novo mutations in ATP1A3 cause alternating hemiplegia of childhood." Nat Genet 44(9): 1030-1034.

              Alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC) is a rare, severe neurodevelopmental syndrome characterized by recurrent hemiplegic episodes and distinct neurological manifestations. AHC is usually a sporadic disorder and has unknown etiology. We used exome sequencing of seven patients with AHC and their unaffected parents to identify de novo nonsynonymous mutations in ATP1A3 in all seven individuals. In a subsequent sequence analysis of ATP1A3 in 98 other patients with AHC, we found that ATP1A3 mutations were likely to be responsible for at least 74% of the cases; we also identified one inherited mutation in a case of familial AHC. Notably, most AHC cases are caused by one of seven recurrent ATP1A3 mutations, one of which was observed in 36 patients. Unlike ATP1A3 mutations that cause rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism, AHC-causing mutations in this gene caused consistent reductions in ATPase activity without affecting the level of protein expression. This work identifies de novo ATP1A3 mutations as the primary cause of AHC and offers insight into disease pathophysiology by expanding the spectrum of phenotypes associated with mutations in ATP1A3.


Hemati, P., et al. (2018). "Refining the phenotype associated with GNB1 mutations: Clinical data on 18 newly identified patients and review of the literature." Am J Med Genet A 176(11): 2259-2275.

              De novo germline mutations in GNB1 have been associated with a neurodevelopmental phenotype. To date, 28 patients with variants classified as pathogenic have been reported. We add 18 patients with de novo mutations to this cohort, including a patient with mosaicism for a GNB1 mutation who presented with a milder phenotype. Consistent with previous reports, developmental delay in these patients was moderate to severe, and more than half of the patients were non-ambulatory and nonverbal. The most observed substitution affects the p.Ile80 residue encoded in exon 6, with 28% of patients carrying a variant at this residue. Dystonia and growth delay were observed more frequently in patients carrying variants in this residue, suggesting a potential genotype-phenotype correlation. In the new cohort of 18 patients, 50% of males had genitourinary anomalies and 61% of patients had gastrointestinal anomalies, suggesting a possible association of these findings with variants in GNB1. In addition, cutaneous mastocytosis, reported once before in a patient with a GNB1 variant, was observed in three additional patients, providing further evidence for an association to GNB1. We will review clinical and molecular data of these new cases and all previously reported cases to further define the phenotype and establish possible genotype-phenotype correlations.


Hiatt, S. M., et al. (2018). "De novo mutations in the GTP/GDP-binding region of RALA, a RAS-like small GTPase, cause intellectual disability and developmental delay." PLoS Genet 14(11): e1007671.

              Mutations that alter signaling of RAS/MAPK-family proteins give rise to a group of Mendelian diseases known as RASopathies. However, among RASopathies, the matrix of genotype-phenotype relationships is still incomplete, in part because there are many RAS-related proteins and in part because the phenotypic consequences may be variable and/or pleiotropic. Here, we describe a cohort of ten cases, drawn from six clinical sites and over 16,000 sequenced probands, with de novo protein-altering variation in RALA, a RAS-like small GTPase. All probands present with speech and motor delays, and most have intellectual disability, low weight, short stature, and facial dysmorphism. The observed rate of de novo RALA variants in affected probands is significantly higher (p = 4.93 x 10(-11)) than expected from the estimated random mutation rate. Further, all de novo variants described here affect residues within the GTP/GDP-binding region of RALA; in fact, six alleles arose at only two codons, Val25 and Lys128. The affected residues are highly conserved across both RAL- and RAS-family genes, are devoid of variation in large human population datasets, and several are homologous to positions at which disease-associated variants have been observed in other GTPase genes. We directly assayed GTP hydrolysis and RALA effector-protein binding of the observed variants, and found that all but one tested variant significantly reduced both activities compared to wild-type. The one exception, S157A, reduced GTP hydrolysis but significantly increased RALA-effector binding, an observation similar to that seen for oncogenic RAS variants. These results show the power of data sharing for the interpretation and analysis of rare variation, expand the spectrum of molecular causes of developmental disability to include RALA, and provide additional insight into the pathogenesis of human disease caused by mutations in small GTPases.


Lessel, D., et al. (2017). "De Novo Missense Mutations in DHX30 Impair Global Translation and Cause a Neurodevelopmental Disorder." Am J Hum Genet 101(5): 716-724.

              DHX30 is a member of the family of DExH-box helicases, which use ATP hydrolysis to unwind RNA secondary structures. Here we identified six different de novo missense mutations in DHX30 in twelve unrelated individuals affected by global developmental delay (GDD), intellectual disability (ID), severe speech impairment and gait abnormalities. While four mutations are recurrent, two are unique with one affecting the codon of one recurrent mutation. All amino acid changes are located within highly conserved helicase motifs and were found to either impair ATPase activity or RNA recognition in different in vitro assays. Moreover, protein variants exhibit an increased propensity to trigger stress granule (SG) formation resulting in global translation inhibition. Thus, our findings highlight the prominent role of translation control in development and function of the central nervous system and also provide molecular insight into how DHX30 dysfunction might cause a neurodevelopmental disorder.


Marcogliese, P. C., et al. (2018). "IRF2BPL Is Associated with Neurological Phenotypes." Am J Hum Genet 103(2): 245-260.

              Interferon regulatory factor 2 binding protein-like (IRF2BPL) encodes a member of the IRF2BP family of transcriptional regulators. Currently the biological function of this gene is obscure, and the gene has not been associated with a Mendelian disease. Here we describe seven individuals who carry damaging heterozygous variants in IRF2BPL and are affected with neurological symptoms. Five individuals who carry IRF2BPL nonsense variants resulting in a premature stop codon display severe neurodevelopmental regression, hypotonia, progressive ataxia, seizures, and a lack of coordination. Two additional individuals, both with missense variants, display global developmental delay and seizures and a relatively milder phenotype than those with nonsense alleles. The IRF2BPL bioinformatics signature based on population genomics is consistent with a gene that is intolerant to variation. We show that the fruit-fly IRF2BPL ortholog, called pits (protein interacting with Ttk69 and Sin3A), is broadly detected, including in the nervous system. Complete loss of pits is lethal early in development, whereas partial knockdown with RNA interference in neurons leads to neurodegeneration, revealing a requirement for this gene in proper neuronal function and maintenance. The identified IRF2BPL nonsense variants behave as severe loss-of-function alleles in this model organism, and ectopic expression of the missense variants leads to a range of phenotypes. Taken together, our results show that IRF2BPL and pits are required in the nervous system in humans and flies, and their loss leads to a range of neurological phenotypes in both species.


Martin, C. A., et al. (2018). "Mutations in TOP3A Cause a Bloom Syndrome-like Disorder." Am J Hum Genet 103(2): 221-231.

              Bloom syndrome, caused by biallelic mutations in BLM, is characterized by prenatal-onset growth deficiency, short stature, an erythematous photosensitive malar rash, and increased cancer predisposition. Diagnostically, a hallmark feature is the presence of increased sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) on cytogenetic testing. Here, we describe biallelic mutations in TOP3A in ten individuals with prenatal-onset growth restriction and microcephaly. TOP3A encodes topoisomerase III alpha (TopIIIalpha), which binds to BLM as part of the BTRR complex, and promotes dissolution of double Holliday junctions arising during homologous recombination. We also identify a homozygous truncating variant in RMI1, which encodes another component of the BTRR complex, in two individuals with microcephalic dwarfism. The TOP3A mutations substantially reduce cellular levels of TopIIIalpha, and consequently subjects' cells demonstrate elevated rates of SCE. Unresolved DNA recombination and/or replication intermediates persist into mitosis, leading to chromosome segregation defects and genome instability that most likely explain the growth restriction seen in these subjects and in Bloom syndrome. Clinical features of mitochondrial dysfunction are evident in several individuals with biallelic TOP3A mutations, consistent with the recently reported additional function of TopIIIalpha in mitochondrial DNA decatenation. In summary, our findings establish TOP3A mutations as an additional cause of prenatal-onset short stature with increased cytogenetic SCEs and implicate the decatenation activity of the BTRR complex in their pathogenesis.


Mulhern, M. S., et al. (2018). "NBEA: Developmental disease gene with early generalized epilepsy phenotypes." Ann Neurol 84(5): 788-795.

              NBEA is a candidate gene for autism, and de novo variants have been reported in neurodevelopmental disease (NDD) cohorts. However, NBEA has not been rigorously evaluated as a disease gene, and associated phenotypes have not been delineated. We identified 24 de novo NBEA variants in patients with NDD, establishing NBEA as an NDD gene. Most patients had epilepsy with onset in the first few years of life, often characterized by generalized seizure types, including myoclonic and atonic seizures. Our data show a broader phenotypic spectrum than previously described, including a myoclonic-astatic epilepsy-like phenotype in a subset of patients. Ann Neurol 2018;84:796-803.


Myers, C. T., et al. (2017). "De Novo Mutations in PPP3CA Cause Severe Neurodevelopmental Disease with Seizures." Am J Hum Genet 101(4): 516-524.

              Exome sequencing has readily enabled the discovery of the genetic mutations responsible for a wide range of diseases. This success has been particularly remarkable in the severe epilepsies and other neurodevelopmental diseases for which rare, often de novo, mutations play a significant role in disease risk. Despite significant progress, the high genetic heterogeneity of these disorders often requires large sample sizes to identify a critical mass of individuals with disease-causing mutations in a single gene. By pooling genetic findings across multiple studies, we have identified six individuals with severe developmental delay (6/6), refractory seizures (5/6), and similar dysmorphic features (3/6), each harboring a de novo mutation in PPP3CA. PPP3CA encodes the alpha isoform of a subunit of calcineurin. Calcineurin encodes a calcium- and calmodulin-dependent serine/threonine protein phosphatase that plays a role in a wide range of biological processes, including being a key regulator of synaptic vesicle recycling at nerve terminals. Five individuals with de novo PPP3CA mutations were identified among 4,760 trio probands with neurodevelopmental diseases; this is highly unlikely to occur by chance (p = 1.2 x 10(-8)) given the size and mutability of the gene. Additionally, a sixth individual with a de novo mutation in PPP3CA was connected to this study through GeneMatcher. Based on these findings, we securely implicate PPP3CA in early-onset refractory epilepsy and further support the emerging role for synaptic dysregulation in epilepsy.


Need, A. C., et al. (2012). "Clinical application of exome sequencing in undiagnosed genetic conditions." J Med Genet 49(6): 353-361.

              BACKGROUND: There is considerable interest in the use of next-generation sequencing to help diagnose unidentified genetic conditions, but it is difficult to predict the success rate in a clinical setting that includes patients with a broad range of phenotypic presentations. METHODS: The authors present a pilot programme of whole-exome sequencing on 12 patients with unexplained and apparent genetic conditions, along with their unaffected parents. Unlike many previous studies, the authors did not seek patients with similar phenotypes, but rather enrolled any undiagnosed proband with an apparent genetic condition when predetermined criteria were met. RESULTS: This undertaking resulted in a likely genetic diagnosis in 6 of the 12 probands, including the identification of apparently causal mutations in four genes known to cause Mendelian disease (TCF4, EFTUD2, SCN2A and SMAD4) and one gene related to known Mendelian disease genes (NGLY1). Of particular interest is that at the time of this study, EFTUD2 was not yet known as a Mendelian disease gene but was nominated as a likely cause based on the observation of de novo mutations in two unrelated probands. In a seventh case with multiple disparate clinical features, the authors were able to identify homozygous mutations in EFEMP1 as a likely cause for macular degeneration (though likely not for other features). CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that next-generation sequencing can have high success rates in a clinical setting, but also highlights key challenges. It further suggests that the presentation of known Mendelian conditions may be considerably broader than currently recognised.


Nicolas, A., et al. (2018). "Genome-wide Analyses Identify KIF5A as a Novel ALS Gene." Neuron 97(6): 1268-1283 e1266.

              To identify novel genes associated with ALS, we undertook two lines of investigation. We carried out a genome-wide association study comparing 20,806 ALS cases and 59,804 controls. Independently, we performed a rare variant burden analysis comparing 1,138 index familial ALS cases and 19,494 controls. Through both approaches, we identified kinesin family member 5A (KIF5A) as a novel gene associated with ALS. Interestingly, mutations predominantly in the N-terminal motor domain of KIF5A are causative for two neurodegenerative diseases: hereditary spastic paraplegia (SPG10) and Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 2 (CMT2). In contrast, ALS-associated mutations are primarily located at the C-terminal cargo-binding tail domain and patients harboring loss-of-function mutations displayed an extended survival relative to typical ALS cases. Taken together, these results broaden the phenotype spectrum resulting from mutations in KIF5A and strengthen the role of cytoskeletal defects in the pathogenesis of ALS.


Ombrello, M. J., et al. (2012). "Cold urticaria, immunodeficiency, and autoimmunity related to PLCG2 deletions." N Engl J Med 366(4): 330-338.

              BACKGROUND: Mendelian analysis of disorders of immune regulation can provide insight into molecular pathways associated with host defense and immune tolerance. METHODS: We identified three families with a dominantly inherited complex of cold-induced urticaria, antibody deficiency, and susceptibility to infection and autoimmunity. Immunophenotyping methods included flow cytometry, analysis of serum immunoglobulins and autoantibodies, lymphocyte stimulation, and enzymatic assays. Genetic studies included linkage analysis, targeted Sanger sequencing, and next-generation whole-genome sequencing. RESULTS: Cold urticaria occurred in all affected subjects. Other, variable manifestations included atopy, granulomatous rash, autoimmune thyroiditis, the presence of antinuclear antibodies, sinopulmonary infections, and common variable immunodeficiency. Levels of serum IgM and IgA and circulating natural killer cells and class-switched memory B cells were reduced. Linkage analysis showed a 7-Mb candidate interval on chromosome 16q in one family, overlapping by 3.5 Mb a disease-associated haplotype in a smaller family. This interval includes PLCG2, encoding phospholipase Cgamma(2) (PLCgamma(2)), a signaling molecule expressed in B cells, natural killer cells, and mast cells. Sequencing of complementary DNA revealed heterozygous transcripts lacking exon 19 in two families and lacking exons 20 through 22 in a third family. Genomic sequencing identified three distinct in-frame deletions that cosegregated with disease. These deletions, located within a region encoding an autoinhibitory domain, result in protein products with constitutive phospholipase activity. PLCG2-expressing cells had diminished cellular signaling at 37 degrees C but enhanced signaling at subphysiologic temperatures. CONCLUSIONS: Genomic deletions in PLCG2 cause gain of PLCgamma(2) function, leading to signaling abnormalities in multiple leukocyte subsets and a phenotype encompassing both excessive and deficient immune function. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Programs and others.).


Oz-Levi, D., et al. (2012). "Mutation in TECPR2 reveals a role for autophagy in hereditary spastic paraparesis." Am J Hum Genet 91(6): 1065-1072.

              We studied five individuals from three Jewish Bukharian families affected by an apparently autosomal-recessive form of hereditary spastic paraparesis accompanied by severe intellectual disability, fluctuating central hypoventilation, gastresophageal reflux disease, wake apnea, areflexia, and unique dysmorphic features. Exome sequencing identified one homozygous variant shared among all affected individuals and absent in controls: a 1 bp frameshift TECPR2 deletion leading to a premature stop codon and predicting significant degradation of the protein. TECPR2 has been reported as a positive regulator of autophagy. We thus examined the autophagy-related fate of two key autophagic proteins, SQSTM1 (p62) and MAP1LC3B (LC3), in skin fibroblasts of an affected individual, as compared to a healthy control, and found that both protein levels were decreased and that there was a more pronounced decrease in the lipidated form of LC3 (LC3II). siRNA knockdown of TECPR2 showed similar changes, consistent with aberrant autophagy. Our results are strengthened by the fact that autophagy dysfunction has been implicated in a number of other neurodegenerative diseases. The discovered TECPR2 mutation implicates autophagy, a central intracellular mechanism, in spastic paraparesis.


Panagiotakaki, E., et al. (2015). "Clinical profile of patients with ATP1A3 mutations in Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood-a study of 155 patients." Orphanet J Rare Dis 10: 123.

              BACKGROUND: Mutations in the gene ATP1A3 have recently been identified to be prevalent in patients with alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC2). Based on a large series of patients with AHC, we set out to identify the spectrum of different mutations within the ATP1A3 gene and further establish any correlation with phenotype. METHODS: Clinical data from an international cohort of 155 AHC patients (84 females, 71 males; between 3 months and 52 years) were gathered using a specifically formulated questionnaire and analysed relative to the mutational ATP1A3 gene data for each patient. RESULTS: In total, 34 different ATP1A3 mutations were detected in 85 % (132/155) patients, seven of which were novel. In general, mutations were found to cluster into five different regions. The most frequent mutations included: p.Asp801Asn (43 %; 57/132), p.Glu815Lys (16 %; 22/132), and p.Gly947Arg (11 %; 15/132). Of these, p.Glu815Lys was associated with a severe phenotype, with more severe intellectual and motor disability. p.Asp801Asn appeared to confer a milder phenotypic expression, and p.Gly947Arg appeared to correlate with the most favourable prognosis, compared to the other two frequent mutations. Overall, the comparison of the clinical profiles suggested a gradient of severity between the three major mutations with differences in intellectual (p = 0.029) and motor (p = 0.039) disabilities being statistically significant. For patients with epilepsy, age at onset of seizures was earlier for patients with either p.Glu815Lys or p.Gly947Arg mutation, compared to those with p.Asp801Asn mutation (p < 0.001). With regards to the five mutation clusters, some clusters appeared to correlate with certain clinical phenotypes. No statistically significant clinical correlations were found between patients with and without ATP1A3 mutations. CONCLUSIONS: Our results, demonstrate a highly variable clinical phenotype in patients with AHC2 that correlates with certain mutations and possibly clusters within the ATP1A3 gene. Our description of the clinical profile of patients with the most frequent mutations and the clinical picture of those with less common mutations confirms the results from previous studies, and further expands the spectrum of genotype-phenotype correlations. Our results may be useful to confirm diagnosis and may influence decisions to ensure appropriate early medical intervention in patients with AHC. They provide a stronger basis for the constitution of more homogeneous groups to be included in clinical trials.


Petrovski, S., et al. (2016). "Germline De Novo Mutations in GNB1 Cause Severe Neurodevelopmental Disability, Hypotonia, and Seizures." Am J Hum Genet 98(5): 1001-1010.

              Whole-exome sequencing of 13 individuals with developmental delay commonly accompanied by abnormal muscle tone and seizures identified de novo missense mutations enriched within a sub-region of GNB1, a gene encoding the guanine nucleotide-binding protein subunit beta-1, Gbeta. These 13 individuals were identified among a base of 5,855 individuals recruited for various undiagnosed genetic disorders. The probability of observing 13 or more de novo mutations by chance among 5,855 individuals is very low (p = 7.1 x 10(-21)), implicating GNB1 as a genome-wide-significant disease-associated gene. The majority of these 13 mutations affect known Gbeta binding sites, which suggests that a likely disease mechanism is through the disruption of the protein interface required for Galpha-Gbetagamma interaction (resulting in a constitutively active Gbetagamma) or through the disruption of residues relevant for interaction between Gbetagamma and certain downstream effectors (resulting in reduced interaction with the effectors). Strikingly, 8 of the 13 individuals recruited here for a neurodevelopmental disorder have a germline de novo GNB1 mutation that overlaps a set of five recurrent somatic tumor mutations for which recent functional studies demonstrated a gain-of-function effect due to constitutive activation of G protein downstream signaling cascades for some of the affected residues.


Phoon, C. K. L., et al. (2020). "Sudden unexpected death in asymptomatic infants due to PPA2 variants." Mol Genet Genomic Med 8(1): e1008.

              BACKGROUND: Sudden death in children is a tragic event that often remains unexplained after comprehensive investigation. We report two asymptomatic siblings who died unexpectedly at approximately 1 year of age found to have biallelic (compound heterozygous) variants in PPA2. METHODS: The index case, parents, and sister were enrolled in the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Registry and Research Collaborative, which included next-generation genetic screening. Prior published cases of PPA2 variants, along with the known biology of PPA2, were also summarized. RESULTS: Whole exome sequencing in both siblings revealed biallelic rare missense variants in PPA2: c.182C > T (p.Ser61Phe) and c.380G > T (p.Arg127Leu). PPA2 encodes a mitochondrially located inorganic pyrophosphatase implicated in progressive and lethal cardiomyopathies. As a regulator and supplier of inorganic phosphate, PPA2 is central to phosphate metabolism. Biological roles include the following: mtDNA maintenance; oxidative phosphorylation and generation of ATP; reactive oxygen species homeostasis; mitochondrial membrane potential regulation; and possibly, retrograde signaling between mitochondria and nucleus. CONCLUSIONS: Two healthy and asymptomatic sisters died unexpectedly at ages 12 and 10 months, and were diagnosed by molecular autopsy to carry biallelic variants in PPA2. Our cases add additional details to those reported thus far, and broaden the spectrum of clinical and molecular features of PPA2 variants.


Pottier, C., et al. (2015). "Whole-genome sequencing reveals important role for TBK1 and OPTN mutations in frontotemporal lobar degeneration without motor neuron disease." Acta Neuropathol 130(1): 77-92.

              Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TAR DNA-binding protein 43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is the most common pathology associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) and mutations in progranulin (GRN) are the major known genetic causes of FTLD-TDP; however, the genetic etiology in the majority of FTLD-TDP remains unexplained. In this study, we performed whole-genome sequencing in 104 pathologically confirmed FTLD-TDP patients from the Mayo Clinic brain bank negative for C9ORF72 and GRN mutations and report on the contribution of rare single nucleotide and copy number variants in 21 known neurodegenerative disease genes. Interestingly, we identified 5 patients (4.8 %) with variants in optineurin (OPTN) and TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) that are predicted to be highly pathogenic, including two double mutants. Case A was a compound heterozygote for mutations in OPTN, carrying the p.Q235* nonsense and p.A481V missense mutation in trans, while case B carried a deletion of OPTN exons 13-15 (p.Gly538Glufs*27) and a loss-of-function mutation (p.Arg117*) in TBK1. Cases C-E carried heterozygous missense mutations in TBK1, including the p.Glu696Lys mutation which was previously reported in two amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and is located in the OPTN binding domain. Quantitative mRNA expression and protein analysis in cerebellar tissue showed a striking reduction of OPTN and/or TBK1 expression in 4 out of 5 patients supporting pathogenicity in these specific patients and suggesting a loss-of-function disease mechanism. Importantly, neuropathologic examination showed FTLD-TDP type A in the absence of motor neuron disease in 3 pathogenic mutation carriers. In conclusion, we highlight TBK1 as an important cause of pure FTLD-TDP, identify the first OPTN mutations in FTLD-TDP, and suggest a potential oligogenic basis for at least a subset of FTLD-TDP patients. Our data further add to the growing body of evidence linking ALS and FTD and suggest a key role for the OPTN/TBK1 pathway in these diseases.


Revah-Politi, A., et al. (2017). "Loss-of-function variants in NFIA provide further support that NFIA is a critical gene in 1p32-p31 deletion syndrome: A four patient series." Am J Med Genet A 173(12): 3158-3164.

              The association between 1p32-p31 contiguous gene deletions and a distinct phenotype that includes anomalies of the corpus callosum, ventriculomegaly, developmental delay, seizures, and dysmorphic features has been long recognized and described. Recently, the observation of overlapping phenotypes in patients with chromosome translocations that disrupt NFIA (Nuclear factor I/A), a gene within this deleted region, and NFIA intragenic deletions has led to the hypothesis that NFIA is a critical gene within this region. The wide application and increasing accessibility of whole exome sequencing (WES) has helped identify new cases to support this hypothesis. Here, we describe four patients with loss-of-function variants in the NFIA gene identified through WES. The clinical presentation of these patients significantly overlaps with the phenotype described in previously reported cases of 1p32-p31 deletion syndrome, NFIA gene disruptions and intragenic NFIA deletions. Our cohort includes a mother and daughter as well as an unrelated individual who share the same nonsense variant (c.205C>T, p.Arg69Ter; NM_001145512.1). We also report a patient with a frameshift NFIA variant (c.159_160dupCC, p.Gln54ProfsTer49). We have compared published cases of 1p32-p31 microdeletion syndrome, translocations resulting in NFIA gene disruption, intragenic deletions, and loss-of-function mutations (including our four patients) to reveal that abnormalities of the corpus callosum, ventriculomegaly/hydrocephalus, macrocephaly, Chiari I malformation, dysmorphic features, developmental delay, hypotonia, and urinary tract defects are common findings. The consistent overlap in clinical presentation provides further evidence of the critical role of NFIA haploinsufficiency in the development of the 1p32-p31 microdeletion syndrome phenotype.


Revah-Politi, A., et al. (1993). GNB1 Encephalopathy. GeneReviews((R)). M. P. Adam, H. H. Ardinger, R. A. Pagon et al. Seattle (WA).

              CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS: GNB1 encephalopathy (GNB1-E) is characterized by moderate-to-severe developmental delay / intellectual disability, structural brain abnormalities, and often infantile hypotonia and seizures. Other less common findings include dystonia, reduced vision, behavior issues, growth delay, gastrointestinal (GI) problems, genitourinary (GU) abnormalities in males, and cutaneous mastocytosis. DIAGNOSIS/TESTING: The diagnosis of GNB1 encephalopathy (GNB1-E) is established in a proband by identification of a heterozygous GNB1 pathogenic variant by molecular genetic testing. MANAGEMENT: Treatment of manifestations: Developmental delay / intellectual disability, hypotonia, seizures, poor vision, behavior issues, growth delay, GI problems, GU abnormalities in males, and cutaneous mastocytosis are managed as per standard care. Surveillance: Follow up of the common manifestations at each clinic visit. GENETIC COUNSELING: GNB1-E is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner and is typically caused by a de novo pathogenic variant. If the GNB1 pathogenic variant identified in the proband is not identified in one of the parents, the risk to sibs is low (~1%) but greater than that of the general population because of the possibility of parental germline mosaicism. Once the GNB1 pathogenic variant has been identified in an affected family member, prenatal testing for a pregnancy at increased risk and preimplantation genetic testing are possible.


Ruzzo, E. K., et al. (2013). "Deficiency of asparagine synthetase causes congenital microcephaly and a progressive form of encephalopathy." Neuron 80(2): 429-441.

              We analyzed four families that presented with a similar condition characterized by congenital microcephaly, intellectual disability, progressive cerebral atrophy, and intractable seizures. We show that recessive mutations in the ASNS gene are responsible for this syndrome. Two of the identified missense mutations dramatically reduce ASNS protein abundance, suggesting that the mutations cause loss of function. Hypomorphic Asns mutant mice have structural brain abnormalities, including enlarged ventricles and reduced cortical thickness, and show deficits in learning and memory mimicking aspects of the patient phenotype. ASNS encodes asparagine synthetase, which catalyzes the synthesis of asparagine from glutamine and aspartate. The neurological impairment resulting from ASNS deficiency may be explained by asparagine depletion in the brain or by accumulation of aspartate/glutamate leading to enhanced excitability and neuronal damage. Our study thus indicates that asparagine synthesis is essential for the development and function of the brain but not for that of other organs.


Sands, T. T., et al. (2019). "Autism and developmental disability caused by KCNQ3 gain-of-function variants." Ann Neurol 86(2): 181-192.

              OBJECTIVE: Recent reports have described single individuals with neurodevelopmental disability (NDD) harboring heterozygous KCNQ3 de novo variants (DNVs). We sought to assess whether pathogenic variants in KCNQ3 cause NDD and to elucidate the associated phenotype and molecular mechanisms. METHODS: Patients with NDD and KCNQ3 DNVs were identified through an international collaboration. Phenotypes were characterized by clinical assessment, review of charts, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings, and parental interview. Functional consequences of variants were analyzed in vitro by patch-clamp recording. RESULTS: Eleven patients were assessed. They had recurrent heterozygous DNVs in KCNQ3 affecting residues R230 (R230C, R230H, R230S) and R227 (R227Q). All patients exhibited global developmental delay within the first 2 years of life. Most (8/11, 73%) were nonverbal or had a few words only. All patients had autistic features, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was diagnosed in 5 of 11 (45%). EEGs performed before 10 years of age revealed frequent sleep-activated multifocal epileptiform discharges in 8 of 11 (73%). For 6 of 9 (67%) recorded between 1.5 and 6 years of age, spikes became near-continuous during sleep. Interestingly, most patients (9/11, 82%) did not have seizures, and no patient had seizures in the neonatal period. Voltage-clamp recordings of the mutant KCNQ3 channels revealed gain-of-function (GoF) effects. INTERPRETATION: Specific GoF variants in KCNQ3 cause NDD, ASD, and abundant sleep-activated spikes. This new phenotype contrasts both with self-limited neonatal epilepsy due to KCNQ3 partial loss of function, and with the neonatal or infantile onset epileptic encephalopathies due to KCNQ2 GoF. ANN NEUROL 2019;86:181-192.


Schoch, K., et al. (2017). "A Recurrent De Novo Variant in NACC1 Causes a Syndrome Characterized by Infantile Epilepsy, Cataracts, and Profound Developmental Delay." Am J Hum Genet 100(2): 343-351.

              Whole-exome sequencing (WES) has increasingly enabled new pathogenic gene variant identification for undiagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders and provided insights into both gene function and disease biology. Here, we describe seven children with a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by microcephaly, profound developmental delays and/or intellectual disability, cataracts, severe epilepsy including infantile spasms, irritability, failure to thrive, and stereotypic hand movements. Brain imaging in these individuals reveals delay in myelination and cerebral atrophy. We observe an identical recurrent de novo heterozygous c.892C>T (p.Arg298Trp) variant in the nucleus accumbens associated 1 (NACC1) gene in seven affected individuals. One of the seven individuals is mosaic for this variant. NACC1 encodes a transcriptional repressor implicated in gene expression and has not previously been associated with germline disorders. The probability of finding the same missense NACC1 variant by chance in 7 out of 17,228 individuals who underwent WES for diagnoses of neurodevelopmental phenotypes is extremely small and achieves genome-wide significance (p = 1.25 x 10(-14)). Selective constraint against missense variants in NACC1 makes this excess of an identical missense variant in all seven individuals more remarkable. Our findings are consistent with a germline recurrent mutational hotspot associated with an allele-specific neurodevelopmental phenotype in NACC1.


Shashi, V., et al. (2018). "Loss of tubulin deglutamylase CCP1 causes infantile-onset neurodegeneration." EMBO J 37(23).

              A set of glutamylases and deglutamylases controls levels of tubulin polyglutamylation, a prominent post-translational modification of neuronal microtubules. Defective tubulin polyglutamylation was first linked to neurodegeneration in the Purkinje cell degeneration (pcd) mouse, which lacks deglutamylase CCP1, displays massive cerebellar atrophy, and accumulates abnormally glutamylated tubulin in degenerating neurons. We found biallelic rare and damaging variants in the gene encoding CCP1 in 13 individuals with infantile-onset neurodegeneration and confirmed the absence of functional CCP1 along with dysregulated tubulin polyglutamylation. The human disease mainly affected the cerebellum, spinal motor neurons, and peripheral nerves. We also demonstrate previously unrecognized peripheral nerve and spinal motor neuron degeneration in pcd mice, which thus recapitulated key features of the human disease. Our findings link human neurodegeneration to tubulin polyglutamylation, entailing this post-translational modification as a potential target for drug development for neurodegenerative disorders.


Shashi, V., et al. (2017). "De Novo Truncating Variants in ASXL2 Are Associated with a Unique and Recognizable Clinical Phenotype." Am J Hum Genet 100(1): 179.


Sobreira, N. L., et al. (2010). "Whole-genome sequencing of a single proband together with linkage analysis identifies a Mendelian disease gene." PLoS Genet 6(6): e1000991.

              Although more than 2,400 genes have been shown to contain variants that cause Mendelian disease, there are still several thousand such diseases yet to be molecularly defined. The ability of new whole-genome sequencing technologies to rapidly indentify most of the genetic variants in any given genome opens an exciting opportunity to identify these disease genes. Here we sequenced the whole genome of a single patient with the dominant Mendelian disease, metachondromatosis (OMIM 156250), and used partial linkage data from her small family to focus our search for the responsible variant. In the proband, we identified an 11 bp deletion in exon four of PTPN11, which alters frame, results in premature translation termination, and co-segregates with the phenotype. In a second metachondromatosis family, we confirmed our result by identifying a nonsense mutation in exon 4 of PTPN11 that also co-segregates with the phenotype. Sequencing PTPN11 exon 4 in 469 controls showed no such protein truncating variants, supporting the pathogenicity of these two mutations. This combination of a new technology and a classical genetic approach provides a powerful strategy to discover the genes responsible for unexplained Mendelian disorders.


Verheije, R., et al. (2019). "Heterozygous loss-of-function variants of MEIS2 cause a triad of palatal defects, congenital heart defects, and intellectual disability." Eur J Hum Genet 27(2): 278-290.

              Deletions on chromosome 15q14 are a known chromosomal cause of cleft palate, typically co-occurring with intellectual disability, facial dysmorphism, and congenital heart defects. The identification of patients with loss-of-function variants in MEIS2, a gene within this deletion, suggests that these features are attributed to haploinsufficiency of MEIS2. To further delineate the phenotypic spectrum of the MEIS2-related syndrome, we collected 23 previously unreported patients with either a de novo sequence variant in MEIS2 (9 patients), or a 15q14 microdeletion affecting MEIS2 (14 patients). All but one de novo MEIS2 variant were identified by whole-exome sequencing. One variant was found by targeted sequencing of MEIS2 in a girl with a clinical suspicion of this syndrome. In addition to the triad of palatal defects, heart defects, and developmental delay, heterozygous loss of MEIS2 results in recurrent facial features, including thin and arched eyebrows, short alae nasi, and thin vermillion. Genotype-phenotype comparison between patients with 15q14 deletions and patients with sequence variants or intragenic deletions within MEIS2, showed a higher prevalence of moderate-to-severe intellectual disability in the former group, advocating for an independent locus for psychomotor development neighboring MEIS2.


Wu, C. H., et al. (2012). "Mutations in the profilin 1 gene cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis." Nature 488(7412): 499-503.

              Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder resulting from motor neuron death. Approximately 10% of cases are familial (FALS), typically with a dominant inheritance mode. Despite numerous advances in recent years, nearly 50% of FALS cases have unknown genetic aetiology. Here we show that mutations within the profilin 1 (PFN1) gene can cause FALS. PFN1 is crucial for the conversion of monomeric (G)-actin to filamentous (F)-actin. Exome sequencing of two large ALS families showed different mutations within the PFN1 gene. Further sequence analysis identified 4 mutations in 7 out of 274 FALS cases. Cells expressing PFN1 mutants contain ubiquitinated, insoluble aggregates that in many cases contain the ALS-associated protein TDP-43. PFN1 mutants also display decreased bound actin levels and can inhibit axon outgrowth. Furthermore, primary motor neurons expressing mutant PFN1 display smaller growth cones with a reduced F/G-actin ratio. These observations further document that cytoskeletal pathway alterations contribute to ALS pathogenesis.


Young, J. E., et al. (2015). "Elucidating molecular phenotypes caused by the SORL1 Alzheimer's disease genetic risk factor using human induced pluripotent stem cells." Cell Stem Cell 16(4): 373-385.

              Predisposition to sporadic Alzheimer's disease (SAD) involves interactions between a person's unique combination of genetic variants and the environment. The molecular effect of these variants may be subtle and difficult to analyze with standard in vitro or in vivo models. Here we used hIPSCs to examine genetic variation in the SORL1 gene and possible contributions to SAD-related phenotypes in human neurons. We found that human neurons carrying SORL1 variants associated with an increased SAD risk show a reduced response to treatment with BDNF, at the level of both SORL1 expression and APP processing. shRNA knockdown of SORL1 demonstrates that the differences in BDNF-induced APP processing between genotypes are dependent on SORL1 expression. We propose that the variation in SORL1 expression induction by BDNF is modulated by common genetic variants and can explain how genetic variation in this one locus can contribute to an individual's risk of developing SAD.