The researchers then focused on three additional children with deletions in RAD21 and two children with mutations within the gene, and found a similar patternphysical features, such as short stature and distinctive facial features, overlapping with some of those seen in cohesin disorders, but with only minor cognitive delays. "These findings suggest that children who are very mildly affected may go undiagnosed," said Deardorff.
The research team did further studies in cell cultures and a zebrafish model to investigate molecular mechanisms involved in cohesin disorders. The cohesin complex includes four proteins that join in a bracelet-like structure that surrounds sister chromatids, the identical pairs that result from chromosome duplication prior to cell division. RAD21, the protein expressed by the gene with the same name, forms a clasp that closes the bracelet. A mutated RAD21 gene weakens that clasp, impairing cohesion's normal abilities to repair damage to DNA.
However, Deardorff added, the lab research does not currently explain the full sequence of molecular events, and further studies will investigate knowledge gaps in the process.
As the cost of whole-genome sequencing is rapidly dropping, Deardorff expects researchers to discover additional genes involved in cohesinopathies, offering further clues to how these diseases function in human development. "For now we can expect that patients with the RAD21 mutation will be less severely affected than those with classical CdLS," he said. "As we better understand the mechanisms of these congenital diseases, we'll continue to seek opportunities to devise more effective treatments."
|Contact: John Ascenzi|
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia