De novo mutations in congenital heart disease with neurodevelopmental and other congenital anomalies

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Science  04 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6265, pp. 1262-1266
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9396

Putting both heart and brain at risk

For reasons that are unclear, newborns with congenital heart disease (CHD) have a high risk of neurodevelopmental disabilities. Homsy et al. performed exome sequence analysis of 1200 CHD patients and their parents to identify spontaneously arising (de novo) mutations. Patients with both CHD and neurodevelopmental disorders had a much higher burden of damaging de novo mutations, particularly in genes with likely roles in both heart and brain development. Thus, clinical genotyping of patients with CHD may help to identify those at greatest risk of neurodevelopmental disabilities, allowing surveillance and early intervention.

Science, this issue p. 1262


Congenital heart disease (CHD) patients have an increased prevalence of extracardiac congenital anomalies (CAs) and risk of neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs). Exome sequencing of 1213 CHD parent-offspring trios identified an excess of protein-damaging de novo mutations, especially in genes highly expressed in the developing heart and brain. These mutations accounted for 20% of patients with CHD, NDD, and CA but only 2% of patients with isolated CHD. Mutations altered genes involved in morphogenesis, chromatin modification, and transcriptional regulation, including multiple mutations in RBFOX2, a regulator of mRNA splicing. Genes mutated in other cohorts examined for NDD were enriched in CHD cases, particularly those with coexisting NDD. These findings reveal shared genetic contributions to CHD, NDD, and CA and provide opportunities for improved prognostic assessment and early therapeutic intervention in CHD patients.

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