Compound heterozygous NEK1 variants in two siblings with oral-facial-digital syndrome type II (Mohr syndrome)

Eur J Hum Genet. 2016 Dec;24(12):1752-1760. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2016.103. Epub 2016 Aug 17.


The oral-facial-digital (OFD) syndromes comprise a group of related disorders with a combination of oral, facial and digital anomalies. Variants in several ciliary genes have been associated with subtypes of OFD syndrome, yet in most OFD patients the underlying cause remains unknown. We investigated the molecular basis of disease in two brothers with OFD type II, Mohr syndrome, by performing single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-array analysis on the brothers and their healthy parents to identify homozygous regions and candidate genes. Subsequently, we performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) on the family. Using WES, we identified compound heterozygous variants c.[464G>C];[1226G>A] in NIMA (Never in Mitosis Gene A)-Related Kinase 1 (NEK1). The novel variant c.464G>C disturbs normal splicing in an essential region of the kinase domain. The nonsense variant c.1226G>A, p.(Trp409*), results in nonsense-associated alternative splicing, removing the first coiled-coil domain of NEK1. Candidate variants were confirmed with Sanger sequencing and alternative splicing assessed with cDNA analysis. Immunocytochemistry was used to assess cilia number and length. Patient-derived fibroblasts showed severely reduced ciliation compared with control fibroblasts (18.0 vs 48.9%, P<0.0001), but showed no significant difference in cilia length. In conclusion, we identified compound heterozygous deleterious variants in NEK1 in two brothers with Mohr syndrome. Ciliation in patient fibroblasts is drastically reduced, consistent with a ciliary defect pathogenesis. Our results establish NEK1 variants involved in the etiology of a subset of patients with OFD syndrome type II and support the consideration of including (routine) NEK1 analysis in patients suspected of OFD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Cilia / pathology
  • Codon, Nonsense*
  • Exome
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • NIMA-Related Kinase 1 / genetics*
  • Orofaciodigital Syndromes / genetics*
  • Orofaciodigital Syndromes / pathology
  • Siblings


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • NEK1 protein, human
  • NIMA-Related Kinase 1