ABCA4-associated disease as a model for missing heritability in autosomal recessive disorders: novel noncoding splice, cis-regulatory, structural, and recurrent hypomorphic variants. Bauwens M, Garanto A, Sangermano R, Naessens S, Weisschuh N, De Zaeytijd J, Khan M2, Sadler F5, Balikova I, Van Cauwenbergh C1, Rosseel T, Bauwens J, De Leeneer K, De Jaegere S, Van Laethem T, De Vries M, Carss K, Arno G, Fakin A, Webster AR, de Ravel de l'Argentière TJL, Sznajer Y, Vuylsteke M, Kohl S, Wissinger B, Cherry T, Collin RWJ, Cremers FPM, Leroy BP, De Baere E. Genet Med. (2019). You can read the abstract below; for the full text click here
ABCA4-associated disease, a recessive retinal dystrophy, is hallmarked by a large proportion of patients with only one pathogenic ABCA4 variant, suggestive for missing heritability.
By locus-specific analysis of ABCA4, combined with extensive functional studies, we aimed to unravel the missing alleles in a cohort of 67 patients (p), with one (p = 64) or no (p = 3) identified coding pathogenic variants of ABCA4.
We identified eight pathogenic (deep-)intronic ABCA4 splice variants, of which five are novel and six structural variants, four of which are novel, including two duplications. Together, these variants account for the missing alleles in 40.3% of patients. Furthermore, two novel variants with a putative cis-regulatory effect were identified. The common hypomorphic variant c.5603A>T p.(Asn1868Ile) was found as a candidate second allele in 43.3% of patients. Overall, we have elucidated the missing heritability in 83.6% of our cohort. In addition, we successfully rescued three deep-intronic variants using antisense oligonucleotide (AON)-mediated treatment in HEK 293-T cells and in patient-derived fibroblast cells.
Noncoding pathogenic variants, novel structural variants, and a common hypomorphic allele of the ABCA4 gene explain the majority of unsolved cases with ABCA4-associated disease, rendering this retinopathy a model for missing heritability in autosomal recessive disorders.
Deep-intronic ABCA4 variants explain missing heritability in Stargardt disease and allow correction of splice defects by antisense oligonucleotides. Sangermano R, Garanto A, Khan M, Runhart EH, Bauwens M, Bax NM, van den Born LI, Khan MI, Cornelis SS, Verheij JBGM, Pott JR, Thiadens AAHJ, Klaver CCW, Puech B, Meunier I2, Naessens S, Arno G, Fakin A, Carss KJ, Raymond FL, Webster AR, Dhaenens CM, Stöhr H, Grassmann F, Weber BHF, Hoyng CB, De Baere E, Albert S, Collin RWJ, Cremers FPM. Genet Med. (2019). You can read the abstract below; for the full text click here
Using exome sequencing, the underlying variants in many persons with autosomal recessive diseases remain undetected. We explored autosomal recessive Stargardt disease (STGD1) as a model to identify the missing heritability.
Sequencing of ABCA4 was performed in 8 STGD1 cases with one variant and p.Asn1868Ile in trans, 25 cases with one variant, and 3 cases with no ABCA4 variant. The effect of intronic variants was analyzed using in vitro splice assays in HEK293T cells and patient-derived fibroblasts. Antisense oligonucleotides were used to correct splice defects.
In 24 of the probands (67%), one known and five novel deep-intronic variants were found. The five novel variants resulted in messenger RNA pseudoexon inclusions, due to strengthening of cryptic splice sites or by disrupting a splicing silencer motif. Variant c.769-784C>T showed partial insertion of a pseudoexon and was found in cis with c.5603A>T (p.Asn1868Ile), so its causal role could not be fully established. Variant c.4253+43G>A resulted in partial skipping of exon 28. Remarkably, antisense oligonucleotides targeting the aberrant splice processes resulted in (partial) correction of all splicing defects.
Our data demonstrate the importance of assessing noncoding variants in genetic diseases, and show the great potential of splice modulation therapy for deep-intronic variants.