A comprehensive screen for TWIST mutations in patients with craniosynostosis identifies a new microdeletion syndrome of chromosome band 7p21.1.
Johnson D., Horsley SW., Moloney DM., Oldridge M., Twigg SR., Walsh S., Barrow M., Njølstad PR., Kunz J., Ashworth GJ., Wall SA., Kearney L., Wilkie AO.
Mutations in the coding region of the TWIST gene (encoding a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor) have been identified in some cases of Saethre-Chotzen syndrome. Haploinsufficiency appears to be the pathogenic mechanism involved. To investigate the possibility that complete deletions of the TWIST gene also contribute to this disorder, we have developed a comprehensive strategy to screen for coding-region mutations and for complete gene deletions. Heterozygous TWIST mutations were identified in 8 of 10 patients with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome and in 2 of 43 craniosynostosis patients with no clear diagnosis. In addition to six coding-region mutations, our strategy revealed four complete TWIST deletions, only one of which associated with a translocation was suspected on the basis of conventional cytogenetic analysis. This case and two interstitial deletions were detectable by analysis of polymorphic microsatellite loci, including a novel (CA)n locus 7.9 kb away from TWIST, combined with FISH; these deletions ranged in size from 3.5 Mb to >11.6 Mb. The remaining, much smaller deletion was detected by Southern blot analysis and removed 2,924 bp, with a 2-bp orphan sequence at the breakpoint. Significant learning difficulties were present in the three patients with megabase-sized deletions, which suggests that haploinsufficiency of genes neighboring TWIST contributes to developmental delay. Our results identify a new microdeletion disorder that maps to chromosome band 7p21.1 and that causes a significant proportion of Saethre-Chotzen syndrome.