Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: De novo germline disorders of the Ras-MAPK pathway : clinical delineation, molecular diagnosis and pathogenesis
Author: Burkitt Wright, Emma Mary Milborough
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 2621
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This work sought to investigate the clinical phenotypes and molecular basis of cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome (CFC), a germline disorder of the Ras-MAPK pathway, like Noonan syndrome (NS) and neurofibromatosis type I, caused by mutations in genes encoding proteins that act within this signal transduction pathway. CFC is most commonly due to mutation in BRAF, and less commonly MAP2K1, MAP2K2 or KRAS. A proportion of patients currently have no mutation identified. Mutations and clinical features of patients with a molecular diagnosis of CFC were investigated, which demonstrated a wide range of causative mutations, and some unclassified variants. Both known and novel clinical features of CFC were identified. A strong association between severe contractures and the p.(Tyr130Cys) mutation in MAP2K1 was found, which has not previously been reported. In contrast to the large number of patients with a confirmed molecular diagnosis, several with a highly suggestive clinical phenotype have been found to have no mutationin any of the known CFC genes. The molecular basis of these presentations was investigated by conventional Sanger sequencing of candidate genes. Fourteen patients with the p.(Ser2Gly) mutation in SHOC2 were identified, with clinical presentations consistent with CFC, NS or CS. Target enrichment and massively parallel sequencing of selected genes was undertaken in ten patients. Mutations in known genes were identified in four patients (including the positive control). Candidate causative variants in novel genes were suggested in two further patients, one of which was confirmed on Sanger sequencing. Whole exome sequencing of patient-parent trios was also undertaken to identify de novo variants. Three trios were analysed, and in one patient with a clinical diagnosis of CFC, a frameshift mutation in NF1 was identified, which was confirmed by Sanger sequencing to be present and de novo. The molecular effects of CFC-associated mutations in BRAF on Ras-MAPK pathway signalling were studied in cell culture systems, using Western blotting for ERK1/2 phosphorylation, in vitro kinase assays and luciferase assays, to assess activity of downstream targets of the Ras-MAPK pathway. Altered pathway activity was demonstrated for novel variants that had not previously been characterised at the molecular level, which was in keeping with the findings of the effects of previously studied mutations. The cardiac phenotype in animal models of CFC, CS and NS/CFC was explored using expression microarrays to identify potentially important genes and pathways in the pathogenesis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a progressive but potentially treatable disease feature) in these conditions. A signature of increased expression of Myh7, the embryonic form of myosin, was identified in the heart of the mouse model of CFC due to a B-Raf mutation at four weeks postnatal age, but comparative analysis suggested significant differences in either the mechanisms causing cardiac phenotypes, or the timescales over which these may exert their effects, in the three models. In summary, the most significant findings of this work were that SHOC2 mutation is a frequent cause of a severe NCFC presentation, and massively parallel sequencing can be an effective means of molecular investigation of this group of disorders. Novel features of CFC syndrome that were identified include severe contractures in association with p.(Tyr130Cys) mutations in MAP2K1. The analysis of mouse models of the NCFCs was hampered by heterogeneity within the expression microarray results, and low levels of expression of the H-Ras mutant allele in the mouse model of Costellosyndrome.
Supervisor: Black, Graeme; Whitmarsh, Alan; Kerr, Bronwyn Sponsor: Wellcome Trust ; Manchester Biomedical Research Centre
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ras-MAPK pathway signal transduction ; germline disorders ; cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome