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Mutations in ARMC9, which Encodes a Basal Body Protein, Cause Joubert Syndrome in Humans and Ciliopathy Phenotypes in Zebrafish


Abstract

Joubert syndrome (JS) is a recessive neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hypotonia, ataxia, abnormal eye movements, and variable cognitive impairment. It is defined by a distinctive brain malformation known as the "molar tooth sign" on axial MRI. Subsets of affected individuals have malformations such as coloboma, polydactyly, and encephalocele, as well as progressive retinal dystrophy, fibrocystic kidney disease, and liver fibrosis. More than 35 genes have been associated with JS, but in a subset of families the genetic cause remains unknown. All of the gene products localize in and around the primary cilium, making JS a canonical ciliopathy. Ciliopathies are unified by their overlapping clinical features and underlying mechanisms involving ciliary dysfunction. In this work, we identify biallelic rare, predicted-deleterious ARMC9 variants (stop-gain, missense, splice-site, and single-exon deletion) in 11 individuals with JS from 8 families, accounting for approximately 1% of the disorder. The associated phenotypes range from isolated neurological involvement to JS with retinal dystrophy, additional brain abnormalities (e.g., heterotopia, Dandy-Walker malformation), pituitary insufficiency, and/or synpolydactyly. We show that ARMC9 localizes to the basal body of the cilium and is upregulated during ciliogenesis. Typical ciliopathy phenotypes (curved body shape, retinal dystrophy, coloboma, and decreased cilia) in a CRISPR/Cas9-engineered zebrafish mutant model provide additional support for ARMC9 as a ciliopathy-associated gene. Identifying ARMC9 mutations as a cause of JS takes us one step closer to a full genetic understanding of this important disorder and enables future functional work to define the central biological mechanisms underlying JS and other ciliopathies.

Abstract

Joubert syndrome (JS) is a recessive neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hypotonia, ataxia, abnormal eye movements, and variable cognitive impairment. It is defined by a distinctive brain malformation known as the "molar tooth sign" on axial MRI. Subsets of affected individuals have malformations such as coloboma, polydactyly, and encephalocele, as well as progressive retinal dystrophy, fibrocystic kidney disease, and liver fibrosis. More than 35 genes have been associated with JS, but in a subset of families the genetic cause remains unknown. All of the gene products localize in and around the primary cilium, making JS a canonical ciliopathy. Ciliopathies are unified by their overlapping clinical features and underlying mechanisms involving ciliary dysfunction. In this work, we identify biallelic rare, predicted-deleterious ARMC9 variants (stop-gain, missense, splice-site, and single-exon deletion) in 11 individuals with JS from 8 families, accounting for approximately 1% of the disorder. The associated phenotypes range from isolated neurological involvement to JS with retinal dystrophy, additional brain abnormalities (e.g., heterotopia, Dandy-Walker malformation), pituitary insufficiency, and/or synpolydactyly. We show that ARMC9 localizes to the basal body of the cilium and is upregulated during ciliogenesis. Typical ciliopathy phenotypes (curved body shape, retinal dystrophy, coloboma, and decreased cilia) in a CRISPR/Cas9-engineered zebrafish mutant model provide additional support for ARMC9 as a ciliopathy-associated gene. Identifying ARMC9 mutations as a cause of JS takes us one step closer to a full genetic understanding of this important disorder and enables future functional work to define the central biological mechanisms underlying JS and other ciliopathies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Medical Genetics
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:6 July 2017
Deposited On:05 Sep 2017 12:37
Last Modified:09 Dec 2017 02:10
Publisher:Cell Press (Elsevier)
ISSN:0002-9297
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.05.010
PubMed ID:28625504

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