Computational analysis of missense filamin-A variants, including the novel p.Arg484Gln variant of two brothers with periventricular nodular heterotopia

PLoS One. 2022 May 25;17(5):e0265400. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265400. eCollection 2022.


Background: Periventricular nodular heterotopia (PNH) is a cell migration disorder associated with mutations in Filamin-A (FLNA) gene on chromosome X. Majority of the individuals with PNH-associated FLNA mutations are female whereas liveborn males with FLNA mutations are very rare. Fetal viability of the males seems to depend on the severity of the variant. Splicing or severe truncations presumed loss of function of the protein product, lead to male lethality and only partial-loss-of-function variants are reported in surviving males. Those variants mostly manifest milder clinical phenotypes in females and thus avoid detection of the disease in females.

Methods: We describe a novel p.Arg484Gln variant in the FLNA gene by performing whole exome analysis on the index case, his one affected brother and his healthy non-consanguineous parents. The transmission of PNH from a clinically asymptomatic mother to two sons is reported in a fully penetrant classical X-linked dominant mode. The variant was verified via Sanger sequencing. Additionally, we investigated the impact of missense mutations reported in affected males on the FLNa protein structure, dynamics and interactions by performing molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to examine the disease etiology and possible compensative mechanisms allowing survival of the males.

Results: We observed that p.Arg484Gln disrupts the FLNa by altering its structural and dynamical properties including the flexibility of certain regions, interactions within the protein, and conformational landscape of FLNa. However, these impacts existed for only a part the MD trajectories and highly similar patterns observed in the other 12 mutations reported in the liveborn males validated this mechanism.

Conclusion: It is concluded that the variants seen in the liveborn males result in transient pathogenic effects, rather than persistent impairments. By this way, the protein could retain its function occasionally and results in the survival of the males besides causing the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Filamins* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation, Missense*
  • Periventricular Nodular Heterotopia* / diagnosis
  • Periventricular Nodular Heterotopia* / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Siblings


  • FLNA protein, human
  • Filamins

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.