Purpose: Thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection (TAAD) is typically inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, but rare X-linked families have been described. So far, the only known X-linked gene is FLNA, which is associated with the periventricular nodular heterotopia type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. However, mutations in this gene explain only a small number of X-linked TAAD families.
Methods: We performed targeted resequencing of 368 candidate genes in a cohort of 11 molecularly unexplained Marfan probands. Subsequently, Sanger sequencing of BGN in 360 male and 155 female molecularly unexplained TAAD probands was performed.
Results: We found five individuals with loss-of-function mutations in BGN encoding the small leucine-rich proteoglycan biglycan. The clinical phenotype is characterized by early-onset aortic aneurysm and dissection. Other recurrent findings include hypertelorism, pectus deformity, joint hypermobility, contractures, and mild skeletal dysplasia. Fluorescent staining revealed an increase in TGF-β signaling, evidenced by an increase in nuclear pSMAD2 in the aortic wall. Our results are in line with those of prior reports demonstrating that Bgn-deficient male BALB/cA mice die from aortic rupture.
Conclusion: In conclusion, BGN gene defects in humans cause an X-linked syndromic form of severe TAAD that is associated with preservation of elastic fibers and increased TGF-β signaling.Genet Med 19 4, 386-395.