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Concept: Genetic disorders


Generation of skeletal muscles with forms adapted to their function is essential for normal movement. Muscle shape is patterned by the coordinated polarity of collectively migrating myoblasts. Constitutive inactivation of the protocadherin gene Fat1 uncoupled individual myoblast polarity within chains, altering the shape of selective groups of muscles in the shoulder and face. These shape abnormalities were followed by early onset regionalised muscle defects in adult Fat1-deficient mice. Tissue-specific ablation of Fat1 driven by Pax3-cre reproduced muscle shape defects in limb but not face muscles, indicating a cell-autonomous contribution of Fat1 in migrating muscle precursors. Strikingly, the topography of muscle abnormalities caused by Fat1 loss-of-function resembles that of human patients with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD). FAT1 lies near the critical locus involved in causing FSHD, and Fat1 mutant mice also show retinal vasculopathy, mimicking another symptom of FSHD, and showed abnormal inner ear patterning, predictive of deafness, reminiscent of another burden of FSHD. Muscle-specific reduction of FAT1 expression and promoter silencing was observed in foetal FSHD1 cases. CGH array-based studies identified deletion polymorphisms within a putative regulatory enhancer of FAT1, predictive of tissue-specific depletion of FAT1 expression, which preferentially segregate with FSHD. Our study identifies FAT1 as a critical determinant of muscle form, misregulation of which associates with FSHD.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Muscular system, Genetic disorders, Muscular dystrophy, Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy


Generalized joint hypermobility (GJH) is highly prevalent among patients diagnosed with chronic pain. When GJH is accompanied by pain in ≥4 joints over a period ≥3 months in the absence of other conditions that cause chronic pain, the hypermobility syndrome (HMS) may be diagnosed. In addition, GJH is also a clinical sign that is frequently present in hereditary diseases of the connective tissue, such as the Marfan syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. However, within the Ehlers-Danlos spectrum, a similar subcategory of patients having similar clinical features as HMS but lacking a specific genetic profile was identified: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome hypermobility type (EDS-HT). Researchers and clinicians have struggled for decades with the highly diverse clinical presentation within the HMS and EDS-HT phenotypes (Challenge 1) and the lack of understanding of the pathological mechanisms that underlie the development of pain and its persistence (Challenge 2). In addition, within the HMS/EDS-HT phenotype, there is a high prevalence of psychosocial factors, which again presents a difficult issue that needs to be addressed (Challenge 3). Despite recent scientific advances, many obstacles for clinical care and research still remain. To gain further insight into the phenotype of HMS/EDS-HT and its mechanisms, clearer descriptions of these populations should be made available. Future research and clinical care should revise and create consensus on the diagnostic criteria for HMS/EDS-HT (Solution 1), account for clinical heterogeneity by the classification of subtypes within the HMS/EDS-HT spectrum (Solution 2), and create a clinical core set (Solution 3).

Concepts: Collagen, Syndromes, Marfan syndrome, Genetic disorders, Connective tissue, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Hypermobility, Diseases involving the fasciae


Abstract Background: Methylmalonic aciduria and homocystinuria type C (cblC), a disorder of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) metabolism caused by mutations in the MMACHC gene, presents with many systemic symptoms, including neurological, cognitive, psychiatric, and thromboembolic events. Retinal phenotypes, including maculopathy, pigmentary retinopathy, and optic atrophy are common in early onset form of the disease but are rare in adult onset forms. Materials and Methods: An adult Hispanic female presented with decreased central vision, bilateral pericentral ring scotomas and bull’s eye-appearing macular lesions at 28 years of age. Her medical history was otherwise unremarkable except for iron deficiency anemia and both urinary tract and kidney infections. Screening of the ABCA4 gene, mutations in which frequently cause bull’s eye maculopathy, was negative. Subsequently, analysis with whole exome sequencing was performed. Results: Whole exome sequencing discovered compound heterozygous mutations in MMACHC, c.G482A:p.Arg161Gln and c.270_271insA:p.Arg91Lysfs*14, which segregated with the disease in the family. The genetic diagnosis was confirmed by biochemical laboratory testing, showing highly elevated urine methylmalonic acid/creatinine and homocysteine levels, and suggesting disease management with hydroxycobalamin injections and carnitine supplementation. Conclusions: In summary, a unique case of an adult patient with bull’s eye macular lesions and no clinically relevant systemic symptoms was diagnosed with cblC by genetic screening and follow-up biochemical laboratory tests.

Concepts: Genetics, Anemia, Folic acid, Vitamin B12, Iron deficiency anemia, Genetic disorders, Methylmalonic acid, Methylmalonic acidemia


We aimed to assess the frequency of connective tissue abnormalities among patients with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks in a prospective study using a large cohort of patients. We enrolled a consecutive group of 50 patients, referred for consultation because of CSF leak. All patients have been carefully examined for the presence of connective tissue abnormalities, and based on findings, patients underwent genetic testing. Ancillary diagnostic studies included echocardiography, eye exam, and histopathological examinations of skin and dura biopsies in selected patients. We identified nine patients with heritable connective tissue disorders, including Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and other unclassified forms. In seven patients, spontaneous CSF leak was the first noted manifestation of the genetic disorder. We conclude that spontaneous CSF leaks are associated with a spectrum of connective tissue abnormalities and may be the first noted clinical presentation of the genetic disorder. We propose that there is a clinical basis for considering spontaneous CSF leak as a clinical manifestation of heritable connective tissue disorders, and we suggest that patients with CSF leaks should be screened for connective tissue and vascular abnormalities.

Concepts: Genetics, Collagen, Marfan syndrome, Genetic disorders, Pneumothorax, Connective tissue, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leak


Angelman syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by mental retardation, severe speech disorder, facial dysmorphism, secondary microcephaly, ataxia, seizures, and abnormal behaviors such as easily provoked laughter. It is most frequently caused by a de novo maternal deletion of chromosome 15q11-q13 (about 70-90%), but can also be caused by paternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 15q11-q13 (3-7%), an imprinting defect (2-4%) or in mutations in the ubiquitin protein ligase E3A gene UBE3A mostly leading to frame shift mutation. In addition, for patients with overlapping clinical features (Angelman-like syndrome), mutations in methyl-CpG binding protein 2 gene MECP2 and cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 gene CDKL5 as well as a microdeletion of 2q23.1 including the methyl-CpG binding domain protein 5 gene MBD5 have been described. Here, we describe a patient who carries a de novo 5Mb-deletion of chromosome 15q11.2-q13.1 known to be associated with Angelman syndrome and a further, maternally inherited deletion 2q21.3 (~364kb) of unknown significance. In addition to classic features of Angelman syndrome, she presented with severe infections in the first year of life, a symptom that has not been described in patients with Angelman syndrome. The 15q11.2-q13.1 deletion contains genes critical for Prader-Willi syndrome, the Angelman syndrome causing genes UBE3A and ATP10A/C, and several non-imprinted genes: GABRB3 and GABRA5 (both encoding subunits of GABA A receptor), GOLGA6L2, HERC2 and OCA2 (associated with oculocutaneous albinism II). The deletion 2q21.3 includes exons of the genes RAB3GAP1 (associated with Warburg Micro syndrome) and ZRANB3 (not disease-associated). Despite the normal phenotype of the mother, the relevance of the 2q21.3 microdeletion for the phenotype of the patient cannot be excluded, and further case reports will need to address this point.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Mutation, Chromosome, Genetic disorders, UBE3A, Angelman syndrome


We present rapid aneuploidy diagnosis of de novo partial trisomy 12q (12q24.21→qter) and partial monosomy 6q (6q27→qter) by aCGH using uncultured amniocytes in a fetus with coarctation of the aorta, ventriculomegaly and thickened nuchal fold. We discuss the association of TBX3, TBX5 and MED13L gene duplication with coarctation of the aorta, and the association of RNASET2 gene haploinsufficiency with ventriculomegaly in this case.

Concepts: DNA, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Klinefelter's syndrome, Aneuploidy, Genetic disorders, Trisomy, Karyotype



Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a life-threatening hyperinflammatory syndrome characterized by severely disturbed immune homeostasis. It can affect all age groups. Diagnostic evaluation of the patient with suspected HLH has to address three main questions: (i) does the patient have HLH? There is no simple diagnostic test, but a number of clinical and laboratory criteria define this clinical syndrome. (ii) Can a trigger be identified? A variety of infections, malignant or autoimmune diseases can contribute to the disturbed immune homeostasis with important consequences for treatment. (iii) Does the patient suffer from a genetic disease predisposing to HLH? Recent advances in the understanding of the genetic and pathophysiological basis of HLH have enabled a better and more rapid answer to this question, which is relevant for prognosis and the decision to perform haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This review summarizes the current diagnostic approach to the patient with HLH.

Concepts: Genetics, Cancer, Disease, Genetic disorder, Medical terms, Hematology, Genetic disorders, Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis


Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency is one of the most common autosomal recessive disorders. In the past, pregnancy was considered to be unlikely for women with CAH, particularly the classical forms. The purpose of this review is to provide current information regarding the pathophysiology of CAH, factors relevant for female and male fertility, and recommendations for management during pregnancy.

Concepts: Endocrinology, Phenylketonuria, Genetic disorders, Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 17 alpha-hydroxylase deficiency, Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency, Autosomal recessive disorders


OBJECTIVES:The purpose of this study was to assess health-related quality of life (QoL) in children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), including development and field-testing of a DMD-specific module integrated with the core Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL).METHODS:The PedsQL 4.0 Generic Core and DMD Module Scales were completed by 203 families, including 200 parents and 117 boys with DMD. Scores on the PedsQL Core Scales were compared with those of matched healthy children. Relationships between PedsQL scores and patient characteristics were examined.RESULTS:By both parent report and child self-report, mean PedsQL scores for boys with DMD were significantly lower than those for healthy children for physical and psychosocial QoL (P < .0001), with significantly impaired psychosocial QoL scores self-reported by 57%. Psychosocial QoL, by self-report only, tended to be higher in the older boys (13-18 years) than in younger boys (8-12 years; P = .05) and was not significantly associated with use of mobility aids. Although parents reported higher Daily Activities scores in boys receiving steroids (P = .01), boys receiving steroids reported no difference in Daily Activities but significantly less worry (P = .004). Parent-child concordance was generally in the fair to poor range. Internal consistency reliability coefficients for PedsQL DMD module scales ranged from 0.66 to 0.86.CONCLUSIONS:Overall, boys with DMD reported significantly lower QoL than their healthy peers. Despite decreased physical functioning, older boys seem to perceive better psychosocial QoL than perceived by their parents and by younger boys, unrelated to their need for mobility aids.

Concepts: Quality, Electromyography, Genetic disorders, Muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Internal consistency, DJ Qualls