Update of genetic variants in CEP120 and CC2D2A-With an emphasis on genotype-phenotype correlations, tissue specific transcripts and exploring mutation specific exon skipping therapies

Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2021 Dec;9(12):e1603. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.1603. Epub 2021 Jan 24.


Background: Mutations in ciliary genes cause a spectrum of both overlapping and distinct clinical syndromes (ciliopathies). CEP120 and CC2D2A are paradigmatic examples for this genetic heterogeneity and pleiotropy as mutations in both cause Joubert syndrome but are also associated with skeletal ciliopathies and Meckel syndrome, respectively. The molecular basis for this phenotypical variability is not understood but basal exon skipping likely contributes to tolerance for deleterious mutations via tissue-specific preservation of the amount of expressed functional protein.

Methods: We systematically reviewed and annotated genetic variants and clinical presentations reported in CEP120- and CC2D2A-associated disease and we combined in silico and ex vivo approaches to study tissue-specific transcripts and identify molecular targets for exon skipping.

Results: We confirmed more severe clinical presentations associated with truncating CC2D2A mutations. We identified and confirmed basal exon skipping in the kidney, with possible relevance for organ-specific disease manifestations. Finally, we proposed a multimodal approach to classify exons amenable to exon skipping. By mapping reported variants, 14 truncating mutations in 7 CC2D2A exons were identified as potentially rescuable by targeted exon skipping, an approach that is already in clinical use for other inherited human diseases.

Conclusion: Genotype-phenotype correlations for CC2D2A support the deleteriousness of null alleles and CC2D2A, but not CEP120, offers potential for therapeutic exon skipping approaches.

Keywords: CC2D2A; CEP120; Joubert syndrome; Meckel syndrome; antisense oligonucleotide; ciliopathy; exon skipping; precision medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Ciliopathies / diagnosis
  • Ciliopathies / genetics*
  • Ciliopathies / therapy
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics*
  • Exons
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Association Studies*
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / genetics
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phenotype
  • Precision Medicine


  • CC2D2A protein, human
  • CEP120 protein, human
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense