Gain-of-Function MN1 Truncation Variants Cause a Recognizable Syndrome with Craniofacial and Brain Abnormalities

Am J Hum Genet. 2020 Jan 2;106(1):13-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.11.011. Epub 2019 Dec 12.


MN1 was originally identified as a tumor-suppressor gene. Knockout mouse studies have suggested that Mn1 is associated with craniofacial development. However, no MN1-related phenotypes have been established in humans. Here, we report on three individuals who have de novo MN1 variants that lead to a protein lacking the carboxyl (C) terminus and who presented with severe developmental delay, craniofacial abnormalities with specific facial features, and structural abnormalities in the brain. An in vitro study revealed that the deletion of the C-terminal region led to increased protein stability, an inhibitory effect on cell proliferation, and enhanced MN1 aggregation in nuclei compared to what occurred in the wild type, suggesting that a gain-of-function mechanism is involved in this disease. Considering that C-terminal deletion increases the fraction of intrinsically disordered regions of MN1, it is possible that altered phase separation could be involved in the mechanism underlying the disease. Our data indicate that MN1 participates in transcriptional regulation of target genes through interaction with the transcription factors PBX1, PKNOX1, and ZBTB24 and that mutant MN1 impairs the binding with ZBTB24 and RING1, which is an E3 ubiquitin ligase. On the basis of our findings, we propose the model that C-terminal deletion interferes with MN1's interaction molecules related to the ubiquitin-mediated proteasome pathway, including RING1, and increases the amount of the mutant protein; this increase leads to the dysregulation of MN1 target genes by inhibiting rapid MN1 protein turnover.

Keywords: MN1; brain structural abnormalities; craniofacial abnormalities; gain-of-function; intrinsically disordered region; phase separation; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Diseases / etiology*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / etiology*
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / pathology
  • Female
  • Gain of Function Mutation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proteolysis
  • Sequence Deletion*
  • Syndrome
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Transcriptome
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism


  • MN1 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins