Background: Neurodevelopmental disorders are genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous encompassing developmental delay (DD), intellectual disability (ID), autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), structural brain abnormalities, and neurological manifestations with variants in a large number of genes (hundreds) associated. To date, a few de novo mutations potentially disrupting TCF20 function in patients with ID, ASD, and hypotonia have been reported. TCF20 encodes a transcriptional co-regulator structurally related to RAI1, the dosage-sensitive gene responsible for Smith-Magenis syndrome (deletion/haploinsufficiency) and Potocki-Lupski syndrome (duplication/triplosensitivity).
Methods: Genome-wide analyses by exome sequencing (ES) and chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) identified individuals with heterozygous, likely damaging, loss-of-function alleles in TCF20. We implemented further molecular and clinical analyses to determine the inheritance of the pathogenic variant alleles and studied the spectrum of phenotypes.
Results: We report 25 unique inactivating single nucleotide variants/indels (1 missense, 1 canonical splice-site variant, 18 frameshift, and 5 nonsense) and 4 deletions of TCF20. The pathogenic variants were detected in 32 patients and 4 affected parents from 31 unrelated families. Among cases with available parental samples, the variants were de novo in 20 instances and inherited from 4 symptomatic parents in 5, including in one set of monozygotic twins. Two pathogenic loss-of-function variants were recurrent in unrelated families. Patients presented with a phenotype characterized by developmental delay, intellectual disability, hypotonia, variable dysmorphic features, movement disorders, and sleep disturbances.
Conclusions: TCF20 pathogenic variants are associated with a novel syndrome manifesting clinical characteristics similar to those observed in Smith-Magenis syndrome. Together with previously described cases, the clinical entity of TCF20-associated neurodevelopmental disorders (TAND) emerges from a genotype-driven perspective.
Keywords: 22q13; Deletions; Haploinsufficiency; Loss-of-function variants; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Smith–Magenis syndrome; TCF20.