Bi-allelic variations in CRB2, encoding the crumbs cell polarity complex component 2, lead to non-communicating hydrocephalus due to atresia of the aqueduct of sylvius and central canal of the medulla

Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2023 Feb 20;11(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s40478-023-01519-8.


Congenital hydrocephalus is a common condition caused by the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricular system. Four major genes are currently known to be causally involved in hydrocephalus, either isolated or as a common clinical feature: L1CAM, AP1S2, MPDZ and CCDC88C. Here, we report 3 cases from 2 families with congenital hydrocephalus due to bi-allelic variations in CRB2, a gene previously reported to cause nephrotic syndrome, variably associated with hydrocephalus. While 2 cases presented with renal cysts, one case presented with isolated hydrocephalus. Neurohistopathological analysis allowed us to demonstrate that, contrary to what was previously proposed, the pathological mechanisms underlying hydrocephalus secondary to CRB2 variations are not due to stenosis but to atresia of both Sylvius Aqueduct and central medullar canal. While CRB2 has been largely shown crucial for apico-basal polarity, immunolabelling experiments in our fetal cases showed normal localization and level of PAR complex components (PKCι and PKCζ) as well as of tight (ZO-1) and adherens (β-catenin and N-Cadherin) junction molecules indicating a priori normal apicobasal polarity and cell-cell adhesion of the ventricular epithelium suggesting another pathological mechanism. Interestingly, atresia but not stenosis of Sylvius aqueduct was also described in cases with variations in MPDZ and CCDC88C encoding proteins previously linked functionally to the Crumbs (CRB) polarity complex, and all 3 being more recently involved in apical constriction, a process crucial for the formation of the central medullar canal. Overall, our findings argue for a common mechanism of CRB2, MPDZ and CCDC88C variations that might lead to abnormal apical constriction of the ventricular cells of the neural tube that will form the ependymal cells lining the definitive central canal of the medulla. Our study thus highlights that hydrocephalus related to CRB2, MPDZ and CCDC88C constitutes a separate pathogenic group of congenital non-communicating hydrocephalus with atresia of both Sylvius aqueduct and central canal of the medulla.

Keywords: Apical constriction; Aqueduct of sylvius atresia; CCDC88C; CRB2; Cell polarity; Cell–cell junction; Central canal of the medulla; Congenital hydrocephalus; MPDZ; Ventriculomegaly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Polarity / genetics
  • Cerebral Aqueduct* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus* / pathology
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Proteins


  • Proteins
  • CRB2 protein, human
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • CCDC88C protein, human
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins