David A Keays

National Human Genome Research Institute, Maryland, United States

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Publications (29)244.24 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The microtubule cytoskeleton is critical for the generation and maturation of neurons in the developing mammalian nervous system (1, 2). We have previously shown that mutations in the β-tubulin gene TUBB5 cause microcephaly with structural brain abnormalities in humans. While it is known that TUBB5 is necessary for the proper generation and migration of neurons, little is understood of the role it plays in neuronal differentiation and connectivity. Here we report that perturbations to TUBB5 disrupt the morphology of cortical neurons, their neuronal complexity, axonal outgrowth, as well as the density and shape of dendritic spines in the postnatal murine cortex. The features we describe are consistent with defects in synaptic signalling. Cellular based assays have revealed that TUBB5 substitutions have the capacity to alter the dynamic properties and polymerisation rates of the microtubule cytoskeleton. Together, our studies show that TUBB5 is essential for neuronal differentiation and dendritic spine formation in vivo, providing insight into the underlying cellular pathology associated with TUBB5 disease states.
    Human Molecular Genetics 05/2014; · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glycosylphophatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins play important roles in many biological processes, and mutations affecting proteins involved in the synthesis of the GPI anchor are reported to cause a wide spectrum of intellectual disabilities (IDs) with characteristic additional phenotypic features. Here, we describe a total of five individuals (from three unrelated families) in whom we identified mutations in PGAP3, encoding a protein that is involved in GPI-anchor maturation. Three siblings in a consanguineous Pakistani family presented with profound developmental delay, severe ID, no speech, psychomotor delay, and postnatal microcephaly. A combination of autozygosity mapping and exome sequencing identified a 13.8 Mb region harboring a homozygous c.275G>A (p.Gly92Asp) variant in PGAP3 region 17q11.2-q21.32. Subsequent testing showed elevated serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP), a GPI-anchored enzyme, in all three affected children. In two unrelated individuals in a cohort with developmental delay, ID, and elevated ALP, we identified compound-heterozygous variants c.439dupC (p.Leu147Profs(∗)16) and c.914A>G (p.Asp305Gly) and homozygous variant c.314C>G (p.Pro105Arg). The 1 bp duplication causes a frameshift and nonsense-mediated decay. Further evidence supporting pathogenicity of the missense mutations c.275G>A, c.314C>G, and c.914A>G was provided by the absence of the variants from ethnically matched controls, phylogenetic conservation, and functional studies on Chinese hamster ovary cell lines. Taken together with recent data on PGAP2, these results confirm the importance of the later GPI-anchor remodelling steps for normal neuronal development. Impairment of PGAP3 causes a subtype of hyperphosphatasia with ID, a congenital disorder of glycosylation that is also referred to as Mabry syndrome.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 01/2014; · 11.20 Impact Factor
  • Martin Breuss, David A Keays
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    ABSTRACT: The development of the mammalian cortex requires the generation, migration and differentiation of neurons. Each of these cellular events requires a dynamic microtubule cytoskeleton. Microtubules are required for interkinetic nuclear migration, the separation of chromatids in mitosis, nuclear translocation during migration and the outgrowth of neurites. Their importance is underlined by the finding that mutations in a host of microtubule associated proteins cause detrimental neurological disorders. More recently, the structural subunits of microtubules, the tubulin proteins, have been implicated in a spectrum of human diseases collectively known as the tubulinopathies. This chapter reviews the discovery of microtubules, the role they play in neurodevelopment, and catalogues the tubulin isoforms associated with neurodevelopmental disease. Our focus is on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the pathology of tubulin-associated diseases. Finally, we reflect on whether different tubulin genes have distinct intrinsic functions.
    Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2014; 800:75-96. · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Periventricular nodular heterotopia is caused by defective neuronal migration that results in heterotopic neuronal nodules lining the lateral ventricles. Mutations in filamin A (FLNA) or ADP-ribosylation factor guanine nucleotide-exchange factor 2 (ARFGEF2) cause periventricular nodular heterotopia, but most patients with this malformation do not have a known aetiology. Using comparative genomic hybridization, we identified 12 patients with developmental brain abnormalities, variably combining periventricular nodular heterotopia, corpus callosum dysgenesis, colpocephaly, cerebellar hypoplasia and polymicrogyria, harbouring a common 1.2 Mb minimal critical deletion in 6q27. These anatomic features were mainly associated with epilepsy, ataxia and cognitive impairment. Using whole exome sequencing in 14 patients with isolated periventricular nodular heterotopia but no copy number variants, we identified one patient with periventricular nodular heterotopia, developmental delay and epilepsy and a de novo missense mutation in the chromosome 6 open reading frame 70 (C6orf70) gene, mapping in the minimal critical deleted region. Using immunohistochemistry and western blots, we demonstrated that in human cell lines, C6orf70 shows primarily a cytoplasmic vesicular puncta-like distribution and that the mutation affects its stability and subcellular distribution. We also performed in utero silencing of C6orf70 and of Phf10 and Dll1, the two additional genes mapping in the 6q27 minimal critical deleted region that are expressed in human and rodent brain. Silencing of C6orf70 in the developing rat neocortex produced periventricular nodular heterotopia that was rescued by concomitant expression of wild-type human C6orf70 protein. Silencing of the contiguous Phf10 or Dll1 genes only produced slightly delayed migration but not periventricular nodular heterotopia. The complex brain phenotype observed in the 6q terminal deletion syndrome likely results from the combined haploinsufficiency of contiguous genes mapping to a small 1.2 Mb region. Our data suggest that, of the genes within this minimal critical region, C6orf70 plays a major role in the control of neuronal migration and its haploinsufficiency or mutation causes periventricular nodular heterotopia.
    Brain 09/2013; · 10.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The cells that are responsible for detecting magnetic fields in animals remain undiscovered. Previous studies have proposed that pigeons employ a magnetic sense system that consists of six bilateral patches of magnetite containing dendrites located in the rostral subepidermis of the upper beak. We have challenged this hypothesis arguing that clusters of iron-rich cells in this region are macrophages, not magnetosensitive neurons. Here we present additional data in support of this conclusion. We have undertaken high resolution anatomical mapping of iron-rich cells in the rostral upper beak of pigeons, excluding the possibility that a conserved six-loci magnetic sense system exists. In addition we have extended our immunohistochemical studies to a second cohort of pigeons, confirming that iron rich cells in the upper beak are positive for MHCII and CD44, which are expressed by macrophages. We argue that it is important to critically assess conclusions that have been made in the past, while keeping an open mind as the search for the magnetoreceptor continues.
    Communicative & integrative biology 07/2013; 6(4):e24859.
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    ABSTRACT: Hair cells reside in specialized epithelia in the inner ear of vertebrates, mediating the detection of sound, motion, and gravity. The transduction of these stimuli into a neuronal impulse requires the deflection of stereocilia, which are stabilized by the actin-rich cuticular plate. Recent electrophysiological studies have implicated the vestibular system in pigeon magnetosensation [1]. Here we report the discovery of a single iron-rich organelle that resides in the cuticular plate of cochlear and vestibular hair cells in the pigeon. Transmission electron microscopy, coupled with elemental analysis, has shown that this structure is composed of ferritin-like granules, is approximately 300-600 nm in diameter, is spherical, and in some instances is membrane-bound and/or organized in a paracrystalline array. This organelle is found in hair cells in a wide variety of avian species, but not in rodents or in humans. This structure may function as (1) a store of excess iron, (2) a stabilizer of stereocilia, or (3) a mediator of magnetic detection. Given the specific subcellular location, elemental composition, and evolutionary conservation, we propose that this structure is an integral component of the sensory apparatus in birds.
    Current biology: CB 04/2013; · 10.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ribosome is an evolutionarily conserved organelle essential for cellular function. Ribosome construction requires assembly of approximately 80 different ribosomal proteins (RPs) and four different species of rRNA. As RPs co-assemble into one multi-subunit complex, mutation of the genes that encode RPs might be expected to give rise to phenocopies, in which the same phenotype is associated with loss-of-function of each individual gene. However, a more complex picture is emerging in which, in addition to a group of shared phenotypes, diverse RP gene-specific phenotypes are observed. Here we report the first two mouse mutations (Rps7(Mtu) and Rps7(Zma)) of ribosomal protein S7 (Rps7), a gene that has been implicated in Diamond-Blackfan anemia. Rps7 disruption results in decreased body size, abnormal skeletal morphology, mid-ventral white spotting, and eye malformations. These phenotypes are reported in other murine RP mutants and, as demonstrated for some other RP mutations, are ameliorated by Trp53 deficiency. Interestingly, Rps7 mutants have additional overt malformations of the developing central nervous system and deficits in working memory, phenotypes that are not reported in murine or human RP gene mutants. Conversely, Rps7 mouse mutants show no anemia or hyperpigmentation, phenotypes associated with mutation of human RPS7 and other murine RPs, respectively. We provide two novel RP mouse models and expand the repertoire of potential phenotypes that should be examined in RP mutants to further explore the concept of RP gene-specific phenotypes.
    PLoS Genetics 01/2013; 9(1):e1003094. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The formation of the mammalian cortex requires the generation, migration, and differentiation of neurons. The vital role that the microtubule cytoskeleton plays in these cellular processes is reflected by the discovery that mutations in various tubulin isotypes cause different neurodevelopmental diseases, including lissencephaly (TUBA1A), polymicrogyria (TUBA1A, TUBB2B, TUBB3), and an ocular motility disorder (TUBB3). Here, we show that Tubb5 is expressed in neurogenic progenitors in the mouse and that its depletion in vivo perturbs the cell cycle of progenitors and alters the position of migrating neurons. We report the occurrence of three microcephalic patients with structural brain abnormalities harboring de novo mutations in TUBB5 (M299V, V353I, and E401K). These mutant proteins, which affect the chaperone-dependent assembly of tubulin heterodimers in different ways, disrupt neurogenic division and/or migration in vivo. Our results provide insight into the functional repertoire of the tubulin gene family, specifically implicating TUBB5 in embryonic neurogenesis and microcephaly.
    Cell Reports 12/2012; · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Primary microcephaly is a genetically heterogeneous condition characterized by reduced head circumference (-3 SDS or more) and mild-to-moderate learning disability. Here, we describe clinical and molecular investigations of a microcephalic child with sensorineural hearing loss. Although consanguinity was unreported initially, detection of 13.7 Mb of copy neutral loss of heterozygosity (cnLOH) on chromosome 9 implicated the CDK5RAP2 gene. Targeted sequencing identified a homozygous E234X mutation, only the third mutation to be described in CDK5RAP2, the first in an individual of non-Pakistani descent. Sensorineural hearing loss is not generally considered to be consistent with autosomal recessive microcephaly and therefore it seems likely that the deafness in this individual is caused by the co-occurrence of a further gene mutation, independent of CDK5RAP2. Nevertheless, further detailed clinical descriptions of rare CDK5RAP2 patients, including hearing assessments will be needed to resolve fully the phenotypic range associated with mutations in this gene. This study also highlights the utility of SNP-array testing to guide disease gene identification where an autosomal recessive condition is plausible. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 08/2012; 158A(10):2577-82. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate magnetosensation in vertebrates is a formidable scientific problem. One hypothesis is that magnetic information is transduced into neuronal impulses by using a magnetite-based magnetoreceptor. Previous studies claim to have identified a magnetic sense system in the pigeon, common to avian species, which consists of magnetite-containing trigeminal afferents located at six specific loci in the rostral subepidermis of the beak. These studies have been widely accepted in the field and heavily relied upon by both behavioural biologists and physicists. Here we show that clusters of iron-rich cells in the rostro-medial upper beak of the pigeon Columbia livia are macrophages, not magnetosensitive neurons. Our systematic characterization of the pigeon upper beak identified iron-rich cells in the stratum laxum of the subepidermis, the basal region of the respiratory epithelium and the apex of feather follicles. Using a three-dimensional blueprint of the pigeon beak created by magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography, we mapped the location of iron-rich cells, revealing unexpected variation in their distribution and number--an observation that is inconsistent with a role in magnetic sensation. Ultrastructure analysis of these cells, which are not unique to the beak, showed that their subcellular architecture includes ferritin-like granules, siderosomes, haemosiderin and filopodia, characteristics of iron-rich macrophages. Our conclusion that these cells are macrophages and not magnetosensitive neurons is supported by immunohistological studies showing co-localization with the antigen-presenting molecule major histocompatibility complex class II. Our work necessitates a renewed search for the true magnetite-dependent magnetoreceptor in birds.
    Nature 04/2012; 484(7394):367-70. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of next generation sequencing (NGS) has radically transformed the scientific landscape, making it possible to sequence the exome of any given individual in a cost-effective way. The power of this approach has been demonstrated by a number of groups who have identified pathogenic mutations in small pedigrees that have been resistant to traditional genetic mapping. Recently it has become clear that exome sequencing has great potential with respect to sporadic disease and the identification of de novo mutations. This is highlighted by studies reporting whole-exome sequencing of patient-parental trios affected by learning disability, autism and schizophrenia. It is widely anticipated that the introduction of this technique into a clinical setting will revolutionise genetic diagnosis. However, the sensitivity of NGS exome sequencing is currently unclear. Here, we describe the exome sequencing of DNA samples from a patient with double cortex syndrome and her parents, resulting in the detection of a mosaic splicing mutation in LIS1. This variant was found at an allele frequency of just 18%, demonstrating that NGS methods have the capacity to identify pathogenic mosaic mutations present at a low level.
    Journal of Human Genetics 12/2011; 57(1):70-2. · 2.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Jenna mutant mouse harbours an S140G mutation in Tuba1a that impairs tubulin heterodimer formation resulting in defective neuronal migration during development. The consequence of decreased neuronal motility is a fractured pyramidal cell layer in the hippocampus and wave-like perturbations in the cerebral cortex. Here, we extend our characterisation of this mouse investigating the laminar architecture of the superior colliculus (SC). Our results reveal that the structure of the SC in mutant animals is intact; however, it is significantly thinner with an apparent fusion of the intermediate grey and white layers. Birthdate labelling at E12.5 and E13.5 showed that the S140G mutation impairs the radial migration of neurons in the SC. A quantitative assessment of neuronal number in adulthood reveals a massive reduction in postmitotic neurons in mutant animals, which we attribute to increased apoptotic cell death. Consistent with the role of the SC in modulating sensorimotor gating, and the circuitry that modulates this behaviour, we find that Jenna mutants exhibit an exaggerated acoustic startle response. Our results highlight the importance of Tuba1a for correct neuronal migration and implicate postnatal apoptotic cell death in the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the tubulinopathies.
    Neuroscience 08/2011; 195:191-200. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study we combine energy loss magnetic circular dichroism (EMCD) and energy filtered transmission electron microscopy (EFTEM) to map magnetic properties of nanoparticles. We show that it is a functional tool for investigating the magnetic behaviour of bio-mineralized magnetite crystals of Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum. We find that the spatial resolution of our experimental set-up is in the range of less than 2 nm. The results are compared with EMCD studies of abiogenic magnetite.
    Micron 01/2011; 42(5):456-60. · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The multitubulin hypothesis holds that each tubulin isotype serves a unique role with respect to microtubule function. Here we investigate the role of the α-tubulin subunit Tuba1a in adult hippocampal neurogenesis and the formation of the dentate gyrus. Employing birth date labelling and immunohistological markers, we show that mice harbouring an S140G mutation in Tuba1a present with normal neurogenic potential, but that this neurogenesis is often ectopic. Morphological analysis of the dentate gyrus in adulthood revealed a disorganised subgranular zone and a dispersed granule cell layer. We have shown that these anatomical abnormalities are due to defective migration of prospero-homeobox-1-positive neurons and T-box-brain-2-positive progenitors during development. Such migratory defects may also be responsible for the cytoarchitectural defects observed in the dentate gyrus of patients with mutations in TUBA1A.
    Developmental Neuroscience 10/2010; 32(4):268-77. · 3.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malformations of cortical development are characteristic of a plethora of diseases that includes polymicrogyria, periventricular and subcortical heterotopia and lissencephaly. Mutations in TUBA1A and TUBB2B, each a member of the multigene families that encode alpha- and beta-tubulins, have recently been implicated in these diseases. Here we examine the defects that result from nine disease-causing mutations (I188L, I238V, P263T, L286F, V303G, L397P, R402C, 402H, S419L) in TUBA1A. We show that the expression of all the mutant proteins in vitro results in the generation of tubulin heterodimers in varying yield and that these can co-polymerize with microtubules in vitro. We identify several kinds of defects that result from these mutations. Among these are various defects in the chaperone-dependent pathway leading to de novo tubulin heterodimer formation. These include a defective interaction with the chaperone prefoldin, a reduced efficiency in the generation of productive folding intermediates as a result of inefficient interaction with the cytosolic chaperonin, CCT, and, in several cases, a failure to stably interact with TBCB, one of five tubulin-specific chaperones that act downstream of CCT in the tubulin heterodimer assembly pathway. Other defects include structural instability in vitro, diminished stability in vivo, a compromised ability to co-assemble with microtubules in vivo and a suppression of microtubule growth rate in the neurites (but not the soma) of cultured neurons. Our data are consistent with the notion that some mutations in TUBA1A result in tubulin deficit, whereas others reflect compromised interactions with one or more MAPs that are essential to proper neuronal migration.
    Human Molecular Genetics 09/2010; 19(18):3599-613. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    The American Journal of Human Genetics 05/2010; 86(5):819-22; author reply 822-3. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Polymicrogyria is a relatively common but poorly understood defect of cortical development characterized by numerous small gyri and a thick disorganized cortical plate lacking normal lamination. Here we report de novo mutations in a beta-tubulin gene, TUBB2B, in four individuals and a 27-gestational-week fetus with bilateral asymmetrical polymicrogyria. Neuropathological examination of the fetus revealed an absence of cortical lamination associated with the presence of ectopic neuronal cells in the white matter and in the leptomeningeal spaces due to breaches in the pial basement membrane. In utero RNAi-based inactivation demonstrates that TUBB2B is required for neuronal migration. We also show that two disease-associated mutations lead to impaired formation of tubulin heterodimers. These observations, together with previous data, show that disruption of microtubule-based processes underlies a large spectrum of neuronal migration disorders that includes not only lissencephaly and pachygyria, but also polymicrogyria malformations.
    Nature Genetics 06/2009; 41(6):746-52. · 35.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The agyria (lissencephaly)/pachygyria phenotypes are catastrophic developmental diseases characterized by abnormal folds on the surface of the brain and disorganized cortical layering. In addition to mutations in at least four genes--LIS1, DCX, ARX and RELN--mutations in a human alpha-tubulin gene, TUBA1A, have recently been identified that cause these diseases. Here, we show that one such mutation, R264C, leads to a diminished capacity of de novo tubulin heterodimer formation. We identify the mechanisms that contribute to this defect. First, there is a reduced efficiency whereby quasinative alpha-tubulin folding intermediates are generated via ATP-dependent interaction with the cytosolic chaperonin CCT. Second, there is a failure of CCT-generated folding intermediates to stably interact with TBCB, one of the five tubulin chaperones (TBCA-E) that participate in the pathway leading to the de novo assembly of the tubulin heterodimer. We describe the behavior of the R264C mutation in terms of its effect on the structural integrity of alpha-tubulin and its interaction with TBCB. In spite of its compromised folding efficiency, R264C molecules that do productively assemble into heterodimers are capable of copolymerizing into dynamic microtubules in vivo. The diminished production of TUBA1A tubulin in R264C individuals is consistent with haploinsufficiency as a cause of the disease phenotype.
    Molecular biology of the cell 04/2008; 19(3):1152-61. · 5.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The most well-described example of an inherited speech and language disorder is that observed in the multigenerational KE family, caused by a heterozygous missense mutation in the FOXP2 gene. Affected individuals are characterized by deficits in the learning and production of complex orofacial motor sequences underlying fluent speech and display impaired linguistic processing for both spoken and written language. The FOXP2 transcription factor is highly similar in many vertebrate species, with conserved expression in neural circuits related to sensorimotor integration and motor learning. In this study, we generated mice carrying an identical point mutation to that of the KE family, yielding the equivalent arginine-to-histidine substitution in the Foxp2 DNA-binding domain. Homozygous R552H mice show severe reductions in cerebellar growth and postnatal weight gain but are able to produce complex innate ultrasonic vocalizations. Heterozygous R552H mice are overtly normal in brain structure and development. Crucially, although their baseline motor abilities appear to be identical to wild-type littermates, R552H heterozygotes display significant deficits in species-typical motor-skill learning, accompanied by abnormal synaptic plasticity in striatal and cerebellar neural circuits.
    Current Biology 04/2008; 18(5):354-62. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have recently reported a missense mutation in exon 4 of the tubulin alpha 1A (Tuba1a) gene in a hyperactive N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) induced mouse mutant with abnormal lamination of the hippocampus. Neuroanatomical similarities between the Tuba1a mutant mouse and mice deficient for Doublecortin (Dcx) and Lis1 genes, and the well-established functional interaction between DCX and microtubules (MTs), led us to hypothesize that mutations in TUBA1A (TUBA3, previous symbol), the human homolog of Tuba1a, might give rise to cortical malformations. This hypothesis was subsequently confirmed by the identification of TUBA1A mutations in two patients with lissencephaly and pachygyria, respectively. Here we report additional TUBA1A mutations identified in six unrelated patients with a large spectrum of brain dysgeneses. The de novo occurrence was shown for all mutations, including one recurrent mutation (c.790C>T, p.R264C) detected in two patients, and two mutations that affect the same amino acid (c.1205G>A, p.R402H; c.1204C>T, p.R402C) detected in two other patients. Retrospective examination of MR images suggests that patients with TUBA1A mutations share not only cortical dysgenesis, but also cerebellar, hippocampal, corpus callosum, and brainstem abnormalities. Interestingly, the specific high level of Tuba1a expression throughout the period of central nervous system (CNS) development, shown by in situ hybridization using mouse embryos, is in accordance with the brain-restricted developmental phenotype caused by TUBA1A mutations. All together, these results, in combination with previously reported data, strengthen the relevance of the known interaction between MTs and DCX, and highlight the importance of the MTs/DCX complex in the neuronal migration process.
    Human Mutation 12/2007; 28(11):1055-64. · 5.21 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

850 Citations
244.24 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • National Human Genome Research Institute
      Maryland, United States
  • 2010–2013
    • Research Institute of Molecular Pathology
      Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • 2006–2013
    • University of Oxford
      • Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2011
    • NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom