Amber N Pursley

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States

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Publications (34)145.21 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: New human mutations are thought to originate in germ cells, thus making a recurrence of the same mutation in a sibling exceedingly rare. However, increasing sensitivity of genomic technologies has anecdotally revealed mosaicism for mutations in somatic tissues of apparently healthy parents. Such somatically mosaic parents might also have germline mosaicism that can potentially cause unexpected intergenerational recurrences. Here, we show that somatic mosaicism for transmitted mutations among parents of children with simplex genetic disease is more common than currently appreciated. Using the sensitivity of individual-specific breakpoint PCR, we prospectively screened 100 families with children affected by genomic disorders due to rare deletion copy-number variants (CNVs) determined to be de novo by clinical analysis of parental DNA. Surprisingly, we identified four cases of low-level somatic mosaicism for the transmitted CNV in DNA isolated from parental blood. Integrated probabilistic modeling of gametogenesis developed in response to our observations predicts that mutations in parental blood increase recurrence risk substantially more than parental mutations confined to the germline. Moreover, despite the fact that maternally transmitted mutations are the minority of alleles, our model suggests that sexual dimorphisms in gametogenesis result in a greater proportion of somatically mosaic transmitting mothers who are thus at increased risk of recurrence. Therefore, somatic mosaicism together with sexual differences in gametogenesis might explain a considerable fraction of unexpected recurrences of X-linked recessive disease. Overall, our results underscore an important role for somatic mosaicism and mitotic replicative mutational mechanisms in transmission genetics.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 07/2014; · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract A genetic etiology for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) was first suggested from twin studies reported in the 1970s. The identification of gene mutations in syndromic ASDs provided evidence to support a genetic cause of ASDs. More recently, genome-wide copy number variant and sequence analyses have uncovered a list of rare and highly penetrant copy number variants (CNVs) or single nucleotide variants (SNVs) associated with ASDs, which has strengthened the claim of a genetic etiology for ASDs. Findings from research studies in the genetics of ASD now support an important role for molecular diagnostics in the clinical genetics evaluation of ASDs. Various molecular diagnostic assays including single gene tests, targeted multiple gene panels and copy number analysis should all be considered in the clinical genetics evaluation of ASDs. Whole exome sequencing could also be considered in selected clinical cases. However, the challenge that remains is to determine the causal role of genetic variants identified through molecular testing. Variable expressivity, pleiotropic effects and incomplete penetrance associated with CNVs and SNVs also present significant challenges for genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis.
    Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences. 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Somatic chromosomal mosaicism arising from post-zygotic errors is known to cause several well-defined genetic syndromes as well as contribute to phenotypic variation in diseases. However, somatic mosaicism is often under-diagnosed due to challenges in detection. We evaluated 10 362 patients with a custom-designed, exon-targeted whole-genome oligonucleotide array and detected somatic mosaicism in a total of 57 cases (0.55%). The mosaicism was characterized and confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and/or chromosome analysis. Different categories of abnormal cell lines were detected: (1) aneuploidy, including sex chromosome abnormalities and isochromosomes (22 cases), (2) ring or marker chromosomes (12 cases), (3) single deletion/duplication copy number variations (CNVs) (11 cases), (4) multiple deletion/duplication CNVs (5 cases), (5) exonic CNVs (4 cases), and (6) unbalanced translocations (3 cases). Levels of mosaicism calculated based on the array data were in good concordance with those observed by FISH (10-93%). Of the 14 cases evaluated concurrently by chromosome analysis, mosaicism was detected solely by the array in 4 cases (29%). In summary, our exon-targeted array further expands the diagnostic capability of high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization in detecting mosaicism for cytogenetic abnormalities as well as small CNVs in disease-causing genes.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 8 January 2014; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.285.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 01/2014; · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To review the performance of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) by low coverage whole genome sequencing of maternal plasma DNA in a single center. The NIPT result and pregnancy outcome of 1982 consecutive cases were reviewed. The NIPT test was based on low coverage (0.1x) whole genome sequencing of maternal plasma DNA. All subjects were contacted for pregnancy and fetal outcome. Of the 1982 NIPT tests, a repeat blood sample was required in 23 (1.16%). In one case, a conclusive report could not be issued, most likely due to an abnormal vanished twin fetus. NIPT was positive for common trisomies in 29 cases (T21: 23; T18: 4; T13:2), all were confirmed by prenatal karyotyping (Specificity = 100%). In addition, there were 11 cases positive for sex-chromosomal abnormalities (SCA), and 9 cases positive for other aneuploidies or deletion/duplication. Fourteen of these 20 subjects agreed for further investigations, and the abnormality was found to be of fetal origin in 7, confined placental mosaicism (CPM) in 4, of maternal origin in 2, and not confirmed in 1. Overall, 85.7% of the NIPT suspected SCA were of fetal origin, while 66.7% of the other abnormalities were due to CPM. Two of the 6 cases suspected or confirmed to have CPM were complicated by early onset growth restriction requiring delivery before 34 weeks. Fetal outcome of the NIPT-negative cases was ascertained in 1645 (85.15%). There were 3 chromosomal abnormalities not detected by NIPT, including one case each of a balanced translocation, unbalanced translocation, and triploidy. There were no known false negatives involving the common trisomies (Sensitivity = 100%). Low coverage whole genome sequencing of maternal plasma DNA was highly accurate in detecting common trisomies. It also enabled the detection of other aneuploidies and structural chromosomal abnormalities with high positive predictive value.
    Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology 12/2013; · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In clinical diagnostics, both array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping have proven to be powerful genomic technologies utilized for the evaluation of developmental delay, multiple congenital anomalies, and neuropsychiatric disorders. Differences in the ability to resolve genomic changes between these arrays may constitute an implementation challenge for clinicians: which platform (SNP vs array CGH) might best detect the underlying genetic cause for the disease in the patient? While only SNP arrays enable the detection of copy number neutral regions of absence of heterozygosity (AOH), they have limited ability to detect single-exon copy number variants (CNVs) due to the distribution of SNPs across the genome. To provide comprehensive clinical testing for both CNVs and copy-neutral AOH, we enhanced our custom-designed high-resolution oligonucleotide array that has exon-targeted coverage of 1860 genes with 60 000 SNP probes, referred to as Chromosomal Microarray Analysis - Comprehensive (CMA-COMP). Of the 3240 cases evaluated by this array, clinically significant CNVs were detected in 445 cases including 21 cases with exonic events. In addition, 162 cases (5.0%) showed at least one AOH region >10 Mb. We demonstrate that even though this array has a lower density of SNP probes than other commercially available SNP arrays, it reliably detected AOH events >10 Mb as well as exonic CNVs beyond the detection limitations of SNP genotyping. Thus, combining SNP probes and exon-targeted array CGH into one platform provides clinically useful genetic screening in an efficient manner.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 22 May 2013; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.77.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 05/2013; · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose:Chromosomal microarray analysis enables the detection of microdeletions/duplications and has become the standard in clinical diagnostic testing for individuals with congenital anomalies and developmental disabilities. In the era of genomic arrays, the value of traditional chromosome analysis needs to be reassessed.Methods:We studied 3,710 unrelated patients by chromosomal microarray analysis and chromosome analysis simultaneously and compared the results.Results:We found that chromosomal microarray analysis detected the chromosomal imbalances that were identified by chromosome analysis with the exception of six cases (0.16%) that had mosaic abnormalities. Of note, one case showed mosaicism for two abnormal cell lines, resulting in a balanced net effect and a normal chromosomal microarray analysis. Further structural abnormalities such as unbalanced translocations, rings, and complex rearrangements were subsequently clarified by chromosome analysis in 18% of the cases with abnormal chromosomal microarray analysis results. Apparently balanced rearrangements were detected by chromosome analysis in 30 cases (0.8%).Conclusion:Our data demonstrate that although chromosomal microarray analysis should be the first-tier test for clinical diagnosis of chromosome abnormalities, chromosome analysis remains valuable in the detection of mosaicism and delineation of chromosomal structural rearrangements.Genet Med advance online publication 13 December 2012Genetics in Medicine (2012); doi:10.1038/gim.2012.152.
    Genetics in medicine: official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 12/2012; · 3.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the results of prenatal chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) on >1000 fetal samples referred for testing at our institution and to compare these data to published reports. High resolution CMA was offered to women undergoing amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. Parental samples were obtained concurrently to exclude maternal cell contamination and assist interpretation of copy number variations. Clinically significant copy number variations were observed in 85/1115 cases (7.6%) overall, and in 45/1075 cases (4.2 %) if 40 abnormal cases with known chromosome abnormalities or familial genomic imbalances were excluded. Eighteen of the 1115 cases had variants of unclear clinical significance (1.6%). Indications yielding the most clinically significant findings were abnormal karyotype/fluorescence in situ hybridization (26/61, 42.6%), family history of chromosomal abnormality (13/137, 9.5%), abnormal ultrasound (38/410, 9.3%), abnormal serum screening (2/37, 5.4%) and advanced maternal age (5/394, 1.3%). Of 1075 cases having no previously known cytogenetic abnormality or family history, 18 (1.7%) had clinically significant genomic changes undetectable by conventional prenatal chromosome analysis. Current experience confirms that the detection rate of CMA for prenatal chromosomal abnormalities surpasses that of conventional karyotype analysis and continues to improve with higher resolution arrays, while maintaining a low frequency of results of unclear clinical significance.
    Prenatal Diagnosis 04/2012; 32(4):351-61. · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oligonucleotide array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) targeted to coding exons of genes of interest has been proven to be a valuable diagnostic tool to complement with Sanger sequencing for the detection of large deletions/duplications. We have developed a custom designed oligonucleotide aCGH platform for this purpose. This array platform provides tiled coverage of the entire mitochondrial genome and high-density coverage of a set of nuclear genes involving mitochondrial and metabolic disorders and can be used to evaluate large deletions in targeted genes. A total of 1280 DNA samples from patients suspected of having mitochondrial or metabolic disorders were evaluated using this targeted aCGH. We detected 40 (3%) pathogenic large deletions in unrelated individuals, including 6 in genes responsible for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndromes, 23 in urea cycle genes, 11 in metabolic and related genes. Deletion breakpoints have been confirmed in 31 cases by PCR and sequencing. The possible deletion mechanism has been discussed. These results illustrate the successful utilization of targeted aCGH to detect large deletions in nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. This technology is particularly useful as a complementary diagnostic test in the context of a recessive disease when only one mutant allele is found by sequencing. For female carriers of X-linked disorders, if sequencing analysis does not detect point mutations, targeted aCGH should be considered for the detection of large heterozygous deletions.
    Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 03/2012; 106(2):221-30. · 2.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report 24 unrelated individuals with deletions and 17 additional cases with duplications at 10q11.21q21.1 identified by chromosomal microarray analysis. The rearrangements range in size from 0.3 to 12 Mb. Nineteen of the deletions and eight duplications are flanked by large, directly oriented segmental duplications of >98% sequence identity, suggesting that nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) caused these genomic rearrangements. Nine individuals with deletions and five with duplications have additional copy number changes. Detailed clinical evaluation of 20 patients with deletions revealed variable clinical features, with developmental delay (DD) and/or intellectual disability (ID) as the only features common to a majority of individuals. We suggest that some of the other features present in more than one patient with deletion, including hypotonia, sleep apnea, chronic constipation, gastroesophageal and vesicoureteral refluxes, epilepsy, ataxia, dysphagia, nystagmus, and ptosis may result from deletion of the CHAT gene, encoding choline acetyltransferase, and the SLC18A3 gene, mapping in the first intron of CHAT and encoding vesicular acetylcholine transporter. The phenotypic diversity and presence of the deletion in apparently normal carrier parents suggest that subjects carrying 10q11.21q11.23 deletions may exhibit variable phenotypic expressivity and incomplete penetrance influenced by additional genetic and nongenetic modifiers. Hum Mutat 33:165–179, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Human Mutation 11/2011; 33(1):165 - 179. · 5.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metabolic disorders are inborn errors that often present in the neonatal period with a devastating clinical course. If not treated promptly, these diseases can result in severe, irreversible disease or death. Determining the molecular defects in metabolic diseases is important in providing a definitive diagnosis for patient management. Therefore, prenatal diagnosis for families with known mutations causing metabolic disorders is crucial for timely intervention. Here we present three families in which standard Sanger sequencing failed to provide a definitive diagnosis, but the detection of genomic deletions by array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) specifically targeted to mitochondrial and metabolic disease genes, MitoMet®, was fundamental in providing accurate prenatal diagnosis. In addition, to our knowledge, two deletions are the smallest detected by oligonucleotide array CGH reported for their respective genes, OTC and ARG1. These data highlight the importance of targeted array CGH in patients with suspected metabolic disorders and incomplete or negative sequencing results, as well as its emerging role in prenatal diagnosis.
    Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 06/2011; 103(2):148-52. · 2.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We demonstrate the utility of an exon coverage microarray platform in detecting intragenic deletions: one in exons 24-27 of the EP300 gene and another in exons 27 and 28 of the CREBBP gene in two patients with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome (RSTS). RSTS is a heterogeneous disorder in which approximately 45-55% of cases result from deletion or mutations in the CREBBP gene and an unknown portion of cases result from gene changes in EP300. The first case is a 3-year-old female with an exonic deletion of the EP300 gene who has classic facial features of RSTS without the thumb and great toe anomalies, consistent with the milder skeletal phenotype that has been described in other RSTS cases with EP300 mutations. In addition, the mother of this patient also had preeclampsia during pregnancy, which has been infrequently reported. The second case is a newborn male who has the classical features of RSTS. Our results illustrate that exon-targeted array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) is a powerful tool for detecting clinically significant intragenic rearrangements that would be otherwise missed by aCGH platforms lacking sufficient exonic coverage or sequencing of the gene of interest.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 01/2011; 19(1):43-9. · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CPSI deficiency usually results in severe hyperammonemia presenting in the first days of life warranting prompt diagnosis. Most CPS1 defects are non-recurrent, private mutations, including point mutation, small insertions and deletions. In this study, we report the detection of large deletions varying from 1.4 kb to >130 kb in the CPS1 gene of 4 unrelated patients by targeted array CGH. These results underscore the importance of analysis of large deletions when only one mutation or no mutations are identified in cases where CPSI deficiency is strongly indicated.
    Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 01/2011; 102(1):103-6. · 2.83 Impact Factor
  • Mitochondrion 01/2011; 11(4):666-666. · 4.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) is a powerful tool for the molecular elucidation and diagnosis of disorders resulting from genomic copy-number variation (CNV). However, intragenic deletions or duplications--those including genomic intervals of a size smaller than a gene--have remained beyond the detection limit of most clinical aCGH analyses. Increasing array probe number improves genomic resolution, although higher cost may limit implementation, and enhanced detection of benign CNV can confound clinical interpretation. We designed an array with exonic coverage of selected disease and candidate genes and used it clinically to identify losses or gains throughout the genome involving at least one exon and as small as several hundred base pairs in size. In some patients, the detected copy-number change occurs within a gene known to be causative of the observed clinical phenotype, demonstrating the ability of this array to detect clinically relevant CNVs with subkilobase resolution. In summary, we demonstrate the utility of a custom-designed, exon-targeted oligonucleotide array to detect intragenic copy-number changes in patients with various clinical phenotypes.
    Human Mutation 12/2010; 31(12):1326-42. · 5.21 Impact Factor
  • Pawel Stankiewicz, Amber N Pursley, Sau Wai Cheung
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    ABSTRACT: Due to the lack of robust diagnostic methods and limited resolution of conventional microscopy, submicroscopic genomic duplication copy number variants (CNVs) have been long underascertained. The development of array CGH has enabled detection of microduplications with nearly the same sensitivity as microdeletions and thus allowing them to be routinely identified throughout the human genome. However, in contrast to microdeletions, clinical interpretation of microduplications more often presents a diagnostic dilemma, as the functional impact of these genomic alterations is not well understood. Microduplications are especially difficult to interpret when they encompass several genes or a portion of a gene. Determining their significance involves investigative teamwork between both the diagnostic laboratory and the clinician. We present the steps for interpreting the clinical significance of microduplications and representative examples of these challenging cases.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 05/2010; 152A(5):1089-100. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Insertional translocations (ITs) are rare events that require at least three breaks in the chromosomes involved and thus qualify as complex chromosomal rearrangements (CCR). In the current study, we identified 40 ITs from approximately 18,000 clinical cases (1:500) using array-comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) in conjunction with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) confirmation of the aCGH findings, and parental follow-up studies. Both submicroscopic and microscopically visible IT events were detected. They were divided into three major categories: (1) simple intrachromosomal and interchromosomal IT resulting in pure segmental trisomy, (2) complex IT involving more than one abnormality, (3) deletion inherited from a parent with a balanced IT resulting in pure segmental monosomy. Of the cases in which follow-up parental studies were available, over half showed inheritance from an apparently unaffected parent carrying the same unbalanced rearrangement detected in the propositi, thus decreasing the likelihood that these IT events are clinically relevant. Nevertheless, we identified six cases in which small submicroscopic events were detected involving known disease-associated genes/genomic segments and are likely to be pathogenic. We recommend that copy number gains detected by clinical aCGH analysis should be confirmed using FISH analysis whenever possible in order to determine the physical location of the duplicated segment. We hypothesize that the increased use of aCGH in the clinic will demonstrate that IT occurs more frequently than previously considered but can identify genomic rearrangements with unclear clinical significance.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 03/2010; 152A(5):1111-26. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) deficiency is characterized by a lack of sympathetic noradrenergic function. Affected individuals exhibit profound deficits in autonomic regulation of cardiovascular function. The diagnosis of DBH deficiency is based on clinical findings, biochemical studies, and sequencing of DBH gene. We report here the characterization of a mosaic cytogenetic abnormality detected by array-CGH in a 16-year-old female with primary DBH deficiency together with dysmorphic features. These features could not be explained by DBH deficiency leading to further investigation. Karyotype was reported normal (46,XX), while a targeted genomic array-CGH revealed a mosaic loss for a segment of at least 1 Mb across 11p13. This segmental loss included the PAX6 and WT1 genes within the WAGR syndrome critical region. Interestingly, the derivative chromosome 11 was observed only in about 28% of cells analyzed. Utilizing a genome-wide oligonucleotide-based array, the deletion segment was estimated to encompass a segment of approximately 10 Mb. Mosaic deletions of 11p13 in WAGR are extremely uncommon. In this case it is distinctly possible that the patient's bilateral iris colobomata might be a manifestation, albeit abbreviated, of the haploinsufficiency for PAX6. This case highlights the importance of cytogenetic analysis when a mutation alone cannot account for the complete phenotype. It also emphasizes the enhanced ability of high-resolution array-CGH techniques in accurately detecting subtle rearrangements in a mosaic form. Finally, it demonstrates the possible phenotypic effects of low-level PAX6 haploinsufficiency in a dosage-sensitive manner.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 02/2010; 152A(3):732-6. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Deletion and the reciprocal duplication in 16p11.2 were recently associated with autism and developmental delay. We indentified 27 deletions and 18 duplications of 16p11.2 were identified in 0.6% of all samples submitted for clinical array-CGH (comparative genomic hybridisation) analysis. Detailed molecular and phenotypic characterisations were performed on 17 deletion subjects and ten subjects with the duplication. The most common clinical manifestations in 17 deletion and 10 duplication subjects were speech/language delay and cognitive impairment. Other phenotypes in the deletion patients included motor delay (50%), seizures ( approximately 40%), behavioural problems ( approximately 40%), congenital anomalies ( approximately 30%), and autism ( approximately 20%). The phenotypes among duplication patients included motor delay (6/10), behavioural problems (especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) (6/10), congenital anomalies (5/10), and seizures (3/10). Patients with the 16p11.2 deletion had statistically significant macrocephaly (p<0.0017) and 6 of the 10 patients with the duplication had microcephaly. One subject with the deletion was asymptomatic and another with the duplication had a normal cognitive and behavioural phenotype. Genomic analyses revealed additional complexity to the 16p11.2 region with mechanistic implications. The chromosomal rearrangement was de novo in all but 2 of the 10 deletion cases in which parental studies were available. Additionally, 2 de novo cases were apparently mosaic for the deletion in the analysed blood sample. Three de novo and 2 inherited cases were observed in the 5 of 10 duplication patients where data were available. Recurrent reciprocal 16p11.2 deletion and duplication are characterised by a spectrum of primarily neurocognitive phenotypes that are subject to incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. The autism and macrocephaly observed with deletion and ADHD and microcephaly seen in duplication patients support a diametric model of autism spectrum and psychotic spectrum behavioural phenotypes in genomic sister disorders.
    Journal of Medical Genetics 11/2009; 47(5):332-41. · 5.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thymidine kinase 2 (TK2), encoded by the TK2 gene on chromosome 16q22, is one of the deoxyribonucleoside kinases responsible for the maintenance of mitochondrial deoxyribonucleotide pools. Defects in TK2 mainly cause a myopathic form of the mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). Currently, only point mutations and small insertions and deletions have been reported in TK2 gene; gross rearrangements of TK2 gene and possible hepatic involvement in patients with TK2 mutations have not been described. We report a non-consanguineous Jordanian family with three deceased siblings due to mtDNA depletion. Sequence analysis of the father detected a heterozygous c.761T>A (p.I254N) mutation in his TK2 gene; however, point mutations in the mother were not detected. Subsequent gene dosage analysis using oligonucleotide array CGH identified an intragenic approximately 5.8-kb deletion encompassing the 5'UTR to intron 2 of her TK2 gene. Sequence analysis confirmed that the deletion spans c.1-495 to c.283-2899 of the TK2 gene (nucleotide 65,136,256-65,142,086 of chromosome 16). Analysis of liver and muscle specimens from one of the deceased infants in this family revealed compound heterozygosity for the paternal point mutation and maternal intragenic deletion. In addition, a significant reduction of the mtDNA content in liver and muscle was detected (10% and 20% of age- and tissue-matched controls, respectively). Prenatal diagnosis was performed in the third pregnancy. The fetus was found to carry both the point mutation and the deletion. This child died 6months after birth due to myopathy. A serum specimen demonstrated elevated liver transaminases in two of the infants from whom results were available. This report expands the mutation spectrum associated with TK2 deficiency. While the myopathic form of MDDS appears to be the main phenotype of TK2 mutations, liver dysfunction may also be a part of the mitochondrial depletion syndrome caused by TK2 gene defects.
    Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 09/2009; 99(1):53-7. · 2.83 Impact Factor