Genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity and the lack of sufficiently large patient cohorts pose a significant challenge to understanding genetic associations in rare disease. Here we identify Bsnd (alias Barttin) as a genetic modifier of cystic kidney disease in Joubert syndrome, using a Cep290-deficient mouse model to recapitulate the phenotypic variability observed in patients by mixing genetic backgrounds in a controlled manner and performing genome-wide analysis of these mice. Experimental down-regulation of Bsnd in the parental mouse strain phenocopied the severe cystic kidney phenotype. A common polymorphism within human BSND significantly associates with kidney disease severity in a patient cohort with CEP290 mutations. The striking phenotypic modifications we describe are a timely reminder of the value of mouse models and highlight the significant contribution of genetic background. Furthermore, if appropriately managed, this can be exploited as a powerful tool to elucidate mechanisms underlying human disease heterogeneity.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jan 14 2020|
- Joubert syndrome
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