Germline variants in tumor suppressor FBXW7 lead to impaired ubiquitination and a neurodevelopmental syndrome

Am J Hum Genet. 2022 Apr 7;109(4):601-617. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2022.03.002.


Neurodevelopmental disorders are highly heterogenous conditions resulting from abnormalities of brain architecture and/or function. FBXW7 (F-box and WD-repeat-domain-containing 7), a recognized developmental regulator and tumor suppressor, has been shown to regulate cell-cycle progression and cell growth and survival by targeting substrates including CYCLIN E1/2 and NOTCH for degradation via the ubiquitin proteasome system. We used a genotype-first approach and global data-sharing platforms to identify 35 individuals harboring de novo and inherited FBXW7 germline monoallelic chromosomal deletions and nonsense, frameshift, splice-site, and missense variants associated with a neurodevelopmental syndrome. The FBXW7 neurodevelopmental syndrome is distinguished by global developmental delay, borderline to severe intellectual disability, hypotonia, and gastrointestinal issues. Brain imaging detailed variable underlying structural abnormalities affecting the cerebellum, corpus collosum, and white matter. A crystal-structure model of FBXW7 predicted that missense variants were clustered at the substrate-binding surface of the WD40 domain and that these might reduce FBXW7 substrate binding affinity. Expression of recombinant FBXW7 missense variants in cultured cells demonstrated impaired CYCLIN E1 and CYCLIN E2 turnover. Pan-neuronal knockdown of the Drosophila ortholog, archipelago, impaired learning and neuronal function. Collectively, the data presented herein provide compelling evidence of an F-Box protein-related, phenotypically variable neurodevelopmental disorder associated with monoallelic variants in FBXW7.

Keywords: F-box protein; FBXW7; Neurodevelopment; brain malformation; epilepsy; gastrointestinal issues; global developmental delay; hypotonia; intellectual disability; macrocephaly.

MeSH terms

  • F-Box-WD Repeat-Containing Protein 7* / chemistry
  • F-Box-WD Repeat-Containing Protein 7* / genetics
  • F-Box-WD Repeat-Containing Protein 7* / metabolism
  • Germ Cells
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / genetics
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination*


  • F-Box-WD Repeat-Containing Protein 7
  • FBXW7 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex