Faulty gene linked to condition in infants

Faulty gene linked to condition in infants

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at King's College London have for the first time identified a defective gene at the root of Vici syndrome, a rare inherited disorder which affects infants from birth, leading to impaired development of the brain, eyes and skin, and progressive failure of the heart, skeletal muscles and the immune system.

Published in the journal Nature Genetics, the study identified a defect in the EPG-5 gene, indicating a of the condition which was previously unknown. Researchers at King's and Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, part of King's Health Partners, analysed the DNA of 18 infants with Vici syndrome and identified the inactivity of EPG-5 as a major cause of the condition.

Infants born with Vici syndrome inherit two copies of the defective gene, one from each parent. Although there are only around 50 known cases of the disorder across the world, researchers believe the precise incidence is unknown due to lack of awareness of this condition. Dr Heinz Jungbluth, from the Children's Neuroscience Centre at St Thomas' Hospital, who led the study along with Professor Mathias Gautel from the Cardiovascular Division at King's, said: 'Vici syndrome is likely to be under-diagnosed as there is potential for misdiagnosis, particularly when you consider the many different organ systems affected by Vici and the significant overlap with other, more common disorders.'

The study also highlighted the 'autophagy' process and the role of EPG-5 in causing this mechanism to fail. Autophagy is a highly regulated cellular process that removes damaged or unwanted components, which is crucial for the health of all cell types, including those involved in muscles, the and brain development. Abnormalities in this process have been implicated previously in neurodegenerative conditions, but defects causing disorders of normal development such as Vici syndrome have rarely been reported. The researchers suggest that autophagy could play a key role in causing a range of disorders, offering the potential for treatment of other conditions. Dr Jungbluth said: 'Although the condition is very rare, it is likely that insights provided by research into Vici syndrome will also be transferable to the diagnosis and therapy of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, and a wider range of primary muscle conditions.'
   
Professor Gautel added: 'Having identified where this genetic defect occurs we are now able to explore potential interventions. For instance, there is the possibility of enhancing other pathways unaffected by the EPG-5 gene, or by preventing use of the defective pathway in the first place.'

As the is inherited from both the mother and father, there is also the possibility of screening families with a known history of Vici syndrome. Professor Gautel said: 'Mothers could be offered preimplantation diagnosis, which involves removing a cell from an embryo when it is around three days old and testing it for genetic disorders, so that an unaffected embryo can be implanted into the mother's womb, if necessary.'

More information: www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop… nt/full/ng.2497.html

Related Stories

Genetic clue to common birth defects found

May 12, 2011

Scientists at King's College London have, for the first time, uncovered a gene responsible for Adams-Oliver Syndrome (AOS), a condition which can cause birth defects of the heart, limbs, or blood vessels.

Gene responsible for severe osteoporosis disorder discovered

Mar 06, 2011

Scientists have identified a single mutated gene that causes Hajdu-Cheney syndrome, a disorder of the bones causing progressive bone loss and osteoporosis (fragile bones). The study, published in Nature Genetics today, gives ...

Recommended for you

Stress reaction may be in your dad's DNA, study finds

18 hours ago

Stress in this generation could mean resilience in the next, a new study suggests. Male mice subjected to unpredictable stressors produced offspring that showed more flexible coping strategies when under ...

More genetic clues found in a severe food allergy

20 hours ago

Scientists have identified four new genes associated with the severe food allergy eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Because the genes appear to have roles in other allergic diseases and in inflammation, the ...

Brain-dwelling worm in UK man's head sequenced

Nov 20, 2014

For the first time, the genome of a rarely seen tapeworm has been sequenced. The genetic information of this invasive parasite, which lived for four years in a UK resident's brain, offers new opportunities ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.