Several copy number variants have been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders and these variants have been shown to also influence cognitive abilities in carriers unaffected by psychiatric disorders. Previously, we associated the 15q11.2(BP1-BP2) deletion with specific learning disabilities and a larger corpus callosum. Here we investigate, in a much larger sample, the effect of the 15q11.2(BP1-BP2) deletion on cognitive, structural and functional correlates of dyslexia and dyscalculia. We report that the deletion confers greatest risk of the combined phenotype of dyslexia and dyscalculia. We also show that the deletion associates with a smaller left fusiform gyrus. Moreover, tailored functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments using phonological lexical decision and multiplication verification tasks demonstrate altered activation in the left fusiform and the left angular gyri in carriers. Thus, by using convergent evidence from neuropsychological testing, and structural and functional neuroimaging, we show that the 15q11.2(BP1-BP2) deletion affects cognitive, structural and functional correlates of both dyslexia and dyscalculia.
Seven cases with an interstitial deletion of the short arm of chromosome 6 involving the 6p22 region have previously been reported. The clinical phenotype of these cases includes developmental delay, brain-, heart-, and kidney defects, eye abnormalities, short neck, craniofacial malformations, hypotonia, as well as clinodactyly or syndactyly. Here, we report a patient with a 7.1Mb interstitial deletion of chromosome band 6p22.3, detected by genome-wide screening array CGH. The patient is a 4-year-old girl with developmental delay and dysmorphic features including eye abnormalities, short neck, and a ventricular septum defect. The deleted region at 6p22.3 in our patient overlaps with six out of the seven previously reported cases with a 6p22-24 interstitial deletion. This enabled us to further narrow down the critical region for the 6p22 deletion phenotype to 2.2Mb. Twelve genes are mapped to the overlapping deleted region, among them the gene encoding the ataxin-1 protein, the ATXN1 gene. Mice with homozygous deletions in ATXN1 are phenotypically normal but show cognitive delay. Haploinsufficiency of ATXN1 may therefore contribute to the learning difficulties observed in the patients harboring a 6p22 deletion.
The involvement of genetic factors in the etiology of autism has been clearly established. We undertook a genome-wide search for regions containing susceptibility genes for autism in 12 subjects with childhood autism and related pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) and 44 controls from the relatively isolated population of the Faroe Islands. In total, 601 microsatellite markers distributed throughout the human genome with an average distance of 5.80 cM were genotyped, including 502 markers in the initial scan. The Faroese population structure and genetic relatedness of cases and controls were also evaluated. Based on a combined approach, including an assumption-free test as implemented in CLUMP, Fisher's exact test for specific alleles and haplotypes, and IBD(0) probability calculations, we found association between autism and microsatellite markers in regions on 2q, 3p, 6q, 15q, 16p, and 18q. The most significant finding was on 3p25.3 (P(T1)=0.00003 and P(T4)=0.00007), which was also supported by other genetic studies. Furthermore, no evidence of population substructure was found, and a higher degree of relatedness among cases could not be detected, decreasing the risk of inflated P-values. Our data suggest that markers in these regions are in linkage disequilibrium with genes involved in the etiology of autism, and we hypothesize susceptibility genes for autism and related PDDs to be localized within these regions.
Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects mainly females; it results in multiple disabilities and carries a risk of medical comorbidities. Early diagnosis is important to help establish the best treatment opportunities and preventive care in order to slow down the progression of symptoms. We wanted to test our hypothesis that it is possible to diagnose RTT before the classical symptoms become obvious.
We analysed development and symptoms before and at the time of the RTT diagnosis, as well as the symptoms that triggered MECP2 mutation analysis, in a cohort of girls with RTT born in Denmark between 2003 and 2012.
Twenty-four girls were included, and 87.5% of these girls were diagnosed when the classical RTT symptoms were recognized. However, parents were concerned about their daughters between 3 and 58 months prior to the RTT diagnosis, and they felt that the professionals did not share their concern in the beginning. When reviewing medical files and questionnaires, we noted that the majority of girls did have combinations of concerning symptoms such as developmental delay and a collection of subtle signs such as autistic traits, placidity, floppiness with suspicion of muscular or mitochondrial diseases, hair pulling, teeth grinding, development of incontinence and problems with initiating movements.
We conclude that many individuals with MECP2 mutation exhibit characteristics that should raise suspicion for RTT, prior to evolution of the core clinical criteria. As RTT is a rare disease, it is of importance to constantly educate clinicians for heightened awareness of RTT.
Meckel syndrome (MKS) is a rare lethal autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the presence of occipital encephalocele, cystic kidneys, fibrotic changes of the liver and polydactyly. Joubert syndrome (JS)-related disorders (JSRDs) or cerebello-oculo-renal syndromes (CORS) are a group of recessively inherited conditions characterized by a molar tooth sign (MTS) on cranial MRI, a set of core clinical features (developmental delay/mental retardation, hypotonia, ataxia, episodic breathing abnormalities, abnormal eye movements) and variable involvement of other systems including renal, ocular, central nervous system, craniofacial, hepatic, and skeletal. A significant clinical overlap between MKS and JSRD/CORS has been recognized in the literature. We describe a group of 10 Hutterite patients, of which 7 had been previously diagnosed with MKS, with a JSRD. Clinical features include variable early mortality, cognitive handicap, a characteristic dysmorphic facial appearance, hypotonia, ataxia, abnormal breathing pattern, nystagmus, and MTS on MRI. Additional features include occipital encephalocele, posterior fossa fluid collections resembling Dandy-Walker malformation, hydrocephalus, coloboma, and renal disease. This JSRD is a recognizable dysmorphic syndrome characterized by hypertelorism, deep-set eyes, down-slanting palpebral fissures, ptosis, arched eyebrows with medial sparseness, square nasal tip, short philtrum with tented upper lip, open mouth with down-turned corners, and posteriorly rotated low-set ears. Renal disease is present in 70% of patients and is characterized by cystic kidneys, abnormalities in renal function and hypertension. Homozygous deletions of NPHP1 and the known loci for JS/JSRD and MKS were excluded by identity-by-descent mapping studies suggesting that this condition in the Hutterites represents yet another locus for a JSRD.
CHARGE (coloboma of the eye, heart defects, choanal atresia, retarded growth and development, genital hypoplasia and ear anomalies and/or hearing loss) syndrome is a rare genetic, multiple-malformation syndrome. About 80% of patients with a clinical diagnose, have a mutation or a deletion in the gene encoding chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 7 (CHD7). Genotype-phenotype correlation is only partly known. In this nationwide study, phenotypic characteristics of 18 Danish CHD7 mutation positive CHARGE individuals (N = 18) are presented. We studied patient records, clinical photographs, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Information was not available for all traits in all subjects. Therefore, the results are presented as fractions. The following prevalence of cardinal symptoms were found: coloboma, 16/17; heart defects, 14/18; choanal atresia, 7/17; retarded growth and development, 11/13; genital abnormalities, 5/18; ear anomalies, 15/17 and sensorineural hearing loss, 14/15. Vestibular dysfunction (10/13) and swallowing problems (12/15) were other frequent cranial nerve dysfunctions. Three-dimensional reconstructions of MRI scans showed temporal bone abnormalities in >85%. CHARGE syndrome present a broad phenotypic spectrum, although some clinical features are more frequently occurring than others. Here, we suggest that genetic testing for CHD7 mutation should be considered in neonates with a specific combination of several clinical symptoms.
We describe a 3-year-old boy with complete agenesis of corpus callosum, developmental delay/mental retardation, anterior diaphragmatic hernia, Morgagni type, severe hypermetropia, and facial dysmorphism suggesting the diagnosis of Donnai-Barrow syndrome. Subtelomeric FISH analysis revealed a paternally-derived t(9;16) (q34.3;q24.3) translocation with partial 9q monosomy and partial 16q trisomy. As some facial features resemble the 9q emerging phenotype, we suggest the hypothesis that some patients with Donnai-Barrow syndrome might be abscribed to 9q terminal deletion.
The Quebec Newborn Twin Study (QNTS) is an ongoing prospective longitudinal follow-up of a birth cohort of twins born between 1995 and 1998 in the greater Montreal area, Québec, Canada. The goal of QNTS is to document individual differences in the cognitive, behavioral, and social-emotional aspects of developmental health across childhood, their early bio-social determinants, as well as their putative role in later social-emotional adjustment, school and health outcomes. A total of 662 families of twins were initially assessed when the twins were aged 6 months. These twins and their family were then followed regularly. QNTS has 14 waves of data collected or planned, including 5 in preschool. Over the past 15 years, a broad range of physiological, cognitive, behavioral, school, and health phenotypes were documented longitudinally through multi-informant and multi-method measurements. QNTS also entails extended and detailed multi-level assessments of proximal (e.g., parenting behaviors, peer relationships) and distal (e.g., family income) features of the child's environment. This detailed longitudinal information makes QNTS uniquely suited for the study of the role of the early years and gene-environment transactions in development.