Genome-first approach for the characterization of a complex phenotype with combined NBAS and CUL4B deficiency

Marco Ritelli, Eleonora Palagano, Valeria Cinquina, Federica Beccagutti, Nicola Chiarelli, Dario Strina, Ignacio Fernando Hall, Anna Villa, Cristina Sobacchi, Marina Colombi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biallelic variants in neuroblastoma-amplified sequence (NBAS) cause an extremely broad spectrum of phenotypes. Clinical features range from isolated recurrent episodes of liver failure to multisystemic syndrome including short stature, skeletal osteopenia and dysplasia, optic atrophy, and a variable immunological, cutaneous, muscular, and neurological abnormalities. Hemizygous variants in CUL4B cause syndromic X-linked intellectual disability characterized by limitations in intellectual functions, developmental delays in gait, cognitive, and speech functioning, and other features including short stature, dysmorphism, and cerebral malformations. In this study, we report on a 4.5-month-old preterm infant with a complex phenotype mainly characterized by placental-related severe intrauterine growth restriction, post-natal growth failure with spontaneous bone fractures, which led to a suspicion of osteogenesis imperfecta, and lethal bronchopulmonary dysplasia with pulmonary hypertension. Whole exome sequencing identified compound heterozygosity for a known frameshift and a novel missense variant in NBAS and hemizygosity for a known CUL4B nonsense mutation. In vitro functional studies on the novel NBAS missense substitution demonstrated altered Golgi-to-endoplasmic reticulum retrograde vesicular trafficking and reduced collagen secretion, likely explaining part of the patient's phenotype. We also provided a comprehensive overview of the phenotypic features of NBAS and CUL4B deficiency, thus updating the recently emerging NBAS genotype-phenotype correlations. Our findings highlight the power of a genome-first approach for an early diagnosis of complex phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115571
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Bone
  • CUL4B
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • NBAS
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Whole exome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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