Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is the most frequent developmental anomaly of the enteric nervous system, with an incidence of 1 in 5000 live births. Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO) is less frequent and classified as neurogenic or myogenic. Isolated HSCR has an oligogenic inheritance with RET as the major disease-causing gene, while CIPO is genetically heterogeneous, caused by mutations in smooth muscle-specific genes. Here, we describe a series of patients with developmental disorders including gastrointestinal dysmotility, and investigate the underlying molecular bases. Trio-exome sequencing led to the identification of biallelic variants in ERBB3 and ERBB2 in 8 individuals variably associating HSCR, CIPO, peripheral neuropathy, and arthrogryposis. Thorough gut histology revealed aganglionosis, hypoganglionosis, and intestinal smooth muscle abnormalities. The cell type-specific ErbB3 and ErbB2 function was further analyzed in mouse single-cell RNA sequencing data and in a conditional ErbB3-deficient mouse model, revealing a primary role for ERBB3 in enteric progenitors. The consequences of the identified variants were evaluated using quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) on patient-derived fibroblasts or immunoblot assays on Neuro-2a cells overexpressing WT or mutant proteins, revealing either decreased expression or altered phosphorylation of the mutant receptors. Our results demonstrate that dysregulation of ERBB3 or ERBB2 leads to a broad spectrum of developmental anomalies, including intestinal dysmotility.
Keywords: Development; Gastroenterology; Genetic diseases; Molecular genetics.