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Gene discovered for Weaver syndrome
Date:12/15/2011

iscovery, Dr. Gibson's team now offers sequencing of the EZH2 gene on a research basis in partnership with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Gibson's team can be contacted by email at wtgibson@cfri.ubc.ca.

Traditionally, hunting for a disease-causing gene has relied on tracking a gene throughout a family's history. However, Weaver syndrome usually occurs only once in a family, as it is thought to be caused by a new genetic mutation in the sperm or egg that conceived the child. For this study, the investigators sought patients with Weaver syndrome from Canada and the United States. They approached Dr. David Weaver, who discovered the syndrome in 1974 and is professor emeritus of Medical and Molecular Genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. In two families that Dr. Weaver had examined, the Canadian team looked for brand new genetic mutations by comparing the DNA of affected children to DNA from their unaffected parents. Once the investigators identified EZH2 as a candidate gene, they sequenced it in DNA samples from a third Canadian family. They confirmed that an EZH2 mutation was in this third family's child but not in either of her healthy parents.

EZH2 is a cancer gene that is known to be mutated in leukemia, B-cell lymphomas and some other blood cancers. The gene helps control how DNA is packaged around specific proteins, which in turn helps to regulate which groups of genes are turned off and on.

"Our finding illuminates an emerging area of biology that links developmental syndromes and cancer," says Dr. Gibson. "It appears that some mutations in EZH2, if these occur early in life, produce developmental syndromes such as Weaver syndrome, whereas mutations in the same gene that occur later in life can produce cancer."

Dr. Steven Jones is the study's senior author who led the DNA sequencing and bioinformatics. He is head of bioinformatics and associate director of the Michael Smith Genome Sci
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Contact: Jennifer Kohm
jkohm@cfri.ca
604-875-2401
Child & Family Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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