Exome sequencing of two Italian pedigrees with non-isolated Chiari malformation type I reveals candidate genes for cranio-facial development

Elisa Merello, Lorenzo Tattini, Alberto Magi, Andrea Accogli, Gianluca Piatelli, Marco Pavanello, Domenico Tortora, Armando Cama, Zoha Kibar, Valeria Capra, Patrizia De Marco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chiari malformation type I (CMI) is a congenital abnormality of the cranio-cerebral junction with an estimated incidence of 1 in 1280. CMI is characterized by underdevelopment of the occipital bone and posterior fossa (PF) and consequent cerebellar tonsil herniation. The presence for a genetic basis to CMI is supported by many lines of evidence. The cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to CM1 are poorly understood. The occipital bone formation is dependent on complex interactions between genes and molecules with pathologies resulting from disruption of this delicate process. Whole-exome sequencing of affected and not affected individuals from two Italian families with non-isolated CMI was undertaken. Single-nucleotide and short insertion-deletion variants were prioritized using KGGSeq knowledge-based platform. We identified three heterozygous missense variants: DKK1 c.121G>A (p.(A41T)) in the first family, and the LRP4 c.2552C>G (p.(T851R)) and BMP1 c.941G>A (p.(R314H)) in the second family. The variants were located at highly conserved residues, segregated with the disease, but they were not observed in 100 unaffected in-house controls. DKK1 encodes for a potent soluble WNT inhibitor that binds to LRP5 and LRP6, and is itself regulated by bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). DKK1 is required for embryonic head development and patterning. LRP4 is a novel osteoblast expressed receptor for DKK1 and a WNT and BMP 4 pathways integrator. Screening of DKK1 in a cohort of 65 CMI sporadic patients identified another missense variant, the c.359G>T (p.(R120L)), in two unrelated patients. These findings implicated the WNT signaling in the correct development of the cranial mesenchyme originating the PF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-959
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 1
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Exome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • LDL-Receptor Related Proteins
  • Male
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Pedigree
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Syringomyelia
  • Journal Article


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