De novo variants in FRMD5 are associated with developmental delay, intellectual disability, ataxia, and abnormalities of eye movement

Am J Hum Genet. 2022 Oct 6;109(10):1932-1943. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2022.09.005.


Proteins containing the FERM (four-point-one, ezrin, radixin, and moesin) domain link the plasma membrane with cytoskeletal structures at specific cellular locations and have been implicated in the localization of cell-membrane-associated proteins and/or phosphoinositides. FERM domain-containing protein 5 (FRMD5) localizes at cell adherens junctions and stabilizes cell-cell contacts. To date, variants in FRMD5 have not been associated with a Mendelian disease in OMIM. Here, we describe eight probands with rare heterozygous missense variants in FRMD5 who present with developmental delay, intellectual disability, ataxia, seizures, and abnormalities of eye movement. The variants are de novo in all for whom parental testing was available (six out of eight probands), and human genetic datasets suggest that FRMD5 is intolerant to loss of function (LoF). We found that the fly ortholog of FRMD5, CG5022 (dFrmd), is expressed in the larval and adult central nervous systems where it is present in neurons but not in glia. dFrmd LoF mutant flies are viable but are extremely sensitive to heat shock, which induces severe seizures. The mutants also exhibit defective responses to light. The human FRMD5 reference (Ref) cDNA rescues the fly dFrmd LoF phenotypes. In contrast, all the FRMD5 variants tested in this study (c.340T>C, c.1051A>G, c.1053C>G, c.1054T>C, c.1045A>C, and c.1637A>G) behave as partial LoF variants. In addition, our results indicate that two variants that were tested have dominant-negative effects. In summary, the evidence supports that the observed variants in FRMD5 cause neurological symptoms in humans.

Keywords: CG5022; Drosophila; FRMD5; ataxia; dFrmd; developmental delay; intellectual disability; nystagmus; opsoclonus; seizures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ataxia / genetics
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Developmental Disabilities / genetics
  • Eye Movements
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability* / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositols
  • Seizures
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics


  • DNA, Complementary
  • FRMD5 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositols
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins