Congenital scoliosis (CS) is a birth defect with variable clinical and anatomical manifestations due to spinal malformation. The genetic etiology underlying about 10% of CS cases in the Chinese population is compound inheritance by which the gene dosage is reduced below that of haploinsufficiency. In this genetic model, the trait manifests as a result of the combined effect of a rare variant and common pathogenic variant allele at a locus. From exome sequencing (ES) data of 523 patients in Asia and two patients in Texas, we identified six TBX6 gene-disruptive variants from 11 unrelated CS patients via ES and in vitro functional testing. The in trans mild hypomorphic allele was identified in 10 of the 11 subjects; as anticipated these 10 shared a similar spinal deformity of hemivertebrae. The remaining case has a homozygous variant in TBX6 (c.418C>T) and presents a more severe spinal deformity phenotype. We found decreased transcriptional activity and abnormal cellular localization as the molecular mechanisms for TBX6 missense loss-of-function alleles. Expanding the mutational spectrum of TBX6 pathogenic alleles enabled an increased molecular diagnostic detection rate, provided further evidence for the gene dosage-dependent genetic model underlying CS, and refined clinical classification.
Keywords: TBX6 gene; compound inheritance model; congenital scoliosis (CS); gene dosage; genotype-phenotype correlation.
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.