Copy number variants in candidate genes are genetic modifiers of Hirschsprung disease

Qian Jiang, Yen Yi Ho, Li Hao, Courtney Nichols Berrios, Aravinda Chakravarti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a neurocristopathy characterized by absence of intramural ganglion cells along variable lengths of the gastrointestinal tract. The HSCR phenotype is highly variable with respect to gender, length of aganglionosis, familiality and the presence of additional anomalies. By molecular genetic analysis, a minimum of 11 neuro-developmental genes (RET, GDNF, NRTN, SOX10, EDNRB, EDN3, ECE1, ZFHX1B, PHOX2B, KIAA1279, TCF4) are known to harbor rare, high-penetrance mutations that confer a large risk to the bearer. In addition, two other genes (RET, NRG1) harbor common, low-penetrance polymorphisms that contribute only partially to risk and can act as genetic modifiers. To broaden this search, we examined whether a set of 67 proven and candidate HSCR genes harbored additional modifier alleles. In this pilot study, we utilized a custom-designed array CGH with ~33,000 test probes at an average resolution of ~185 bp to detect gene-sized or smaller copy number variants (CNVs) within these 67 genes in 18 heterogeneous HSCR patients. Using stringent criteria, we identified CNVs at three loci (MAPK10, ZFHX1B, SOX2) that are novel, involve regulatory and coding sequences of neuro-developmental genes, and show association with HSCR in combination with other congenital anomalies. Additional CNVs are observed under relaxed criteria. Our research suggests a role for CNVs in HSCR and, importantly, emphasizes the role of variation in regulatory sequences. A much larger study will be necessary both for replication and for identifying the full spectrum of small CNV effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere21219
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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