Variable Expression of Neurofibromatosis 1 in Monozygotic Twins

Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine, USA.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A (Impact Factor: 2.16). 03/2011; 155A(3):478-85. DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.a.33851
Source: PubMed


Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is a common autosomal dominant disorder with high penetrance but extreme variability of expression. Monozygotic (MZ) twins with NF1 who have phenotypic discordances are a useful tool in evaluating which traits are influenced by non-hereditary influences such as second hit somatic events, environmental agents, epigenetic modification, or post-zygotic mutations. We evaluated nine sets of MZ twins and one set of MZ triplets, ages 4-18 years, for NF1 features and calculated probandwise concordance (P(C)) for each feature. MZ twins were highly concordant in numbers of café-au-lait spots (P(C) = 0.89) and cutaneous neurofibromas. IQ scores were within 10 points for all twin pairs tested, and similar patterns of learning disabilities and speech disorders were observed. Twin pairs showed significant discordance for tumors, particularly plexiform neurofibromas (P(C) = 0.40) and malignant peripheral nerves sheath tumors (MPNST), as expected if post-natal second-hit events were contributing to these features. One set of twins was concordant for multiple, large paraspinal neurofibromas, suggesting that there may be more hereditary factors involved in production of paraspinal neurofibromas. Four sets were concordant for pectus deformities of the chest (P(C) = 0.80). Three sets of twins were discordant for scoliosis (P(C) = 0.40); an additional set was concordant for scoliosis but differed in presence of dystrophic features and need for surgery. Our data suggest there are additional non-hereditary factors modifying the NF1 phenotype and causing discordancies between MZ twins. Future studies may focus on differences in epigenetic changes or somatic mosaicism which have been documented for other disease genes in MZ twins.

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Available from: Lisa J Martin, Sep 18, 2014
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    • "Various degrees and forms of intellectual and social impairment are common in those with NF, affecting up to fifty percent of patients(Ferner, 2007;Ferner, 2010;Ferner et al., 2007;Hersh and American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Genetics, 2008;Lopes Ferraz Filho et al., 2008;Committee on Genetics, 1995;NF1 Cognitive Disorders Task Force., 1997;Lu- Emerson and Plotkin, 2009a;Huson et al., 1988;Rieley et al., 2011). Specific abnormalities that have been noted include mental retardation , learning disabilities, and speech disorders(Arun and Gutmann, 2004;Lu-Emerson and Plotkin, 2009a;Rieley et al., 2011;North et al., 1997). "

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    ABSTRACT: NF1 (neurofibromatosis type I) is a common genetic disease that affects one in 3500 individuals. The disease is completely penetrant but shows variable phenotypic expression in patients. NF1 is a large gene, and its pre-mRNA undergoes alternative splicing. The NF1 protein, neurofibromin, is involved in diverse signalling cascades. One of the best characterized functions of NF1 is its function as a Ras-GAP (GTPase-activating protein). NF1 exon 23a is an alternative exon that lies within the GAP-related domain of neurofibromin. This exon is predominantly included in most tissues, and it is skipped in CNS (central nervous system) neurons. The isoform in which exon 23a is skipped has 10 times higher Ras-GAP activity than the isoform in which exon 23a is included. Exon 23a inclusion is tightly regulated by at least three different families of RNA-binding proteins: CELF {CUG-BP (cytosine-uridine-guanine-binding protein) and ETR-3 [ELAV (embryonic lethal abnormal vision)-type RNA-binding protein]-like factor}, Hu and TIA-1 (T-cell intracellular antigen 1)/TIAR (T-cell intracellular antigen 1-related protein). The CELF and Hu proteins promote exon 23a skipping, while the TIA-1/TIAR proteins promote its inclusion. The widespread clinical variability that is observed among NF1 patients cannot be explained by NF1 mutations alone and it is believed that modifier genes may have a role in the variability. We suggest that the regulation of alternative splicing may act as a modifier to contribute to the variable expression in NF1 patients.
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