Rare lethal disease gene identification remains a challenging issue, but it is amenable to new techniques in high-throughput sequencing (HTS). Cerebral proliferative glomeruloid vasculopathy (PGV), or Fowler syndrome, is a severe autosomal recessive disorder of brain angiogenesis, resulting in abnormally thickened and aberrant perforating vessels leading to hydranencephaly. In three multiplex consanguineous families, genome-wide SNP analysis identified a locus of 14 Mb on chromosome 14. In addition, 280 consecutive SNPs were identical in two Turkish families unknown to be related, suggesting a founder mutation reducing the interval to 4.1 Mb. To identify the causative gene, we then specifically enriched for this region with sequence capture and performed HTS in a proband of seven families. Due to technical constraints related to the disease, the average coverage was only 7×. Nonetheless, iterative bioinformatic analyses of the sequence data identified mutations and a large deletion in the FLVCR2 gene, encoding a 12 transmembrane domain-containing putative transporter. A striking absence of alpha-smooth muscle actin immunostaining in abnormal vessels in fetal PGV brains, suggests a deficit in pericytes, cells essential for capillary stabilization and remodeling during brain angiogenesis. This is the first lethal disease-causing gene to be identified by comprehensive HTS of an entire linkage interval.
Hum Mutat 31:1134-1141, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.