BACKGROUND: Activating pathogenic variants in PIK3CA gene usually occur at a mosaic status and underlie a variety of segmental overgrowth phenotypes. Germline variants in PIK3CA have been rarely reported, described in a total of 12 patients with macrocephaly to date. Clinical and prognostic features of these germline variants have not been described in detail yet.
METHODS: Targeted deep sequencing by custom panel of the 21 genes involved in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway was performed in a 13-year-old boy with macrocephaly and physical overgrowth. PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway analysis was performed in fibroblasts by Western blot. The effects of miransertib (AKT inhibitor) and rapamycin (mTOR inhibitor) were assessed.
RESULTS: A de novo pathogenic variant (c.1090G>C; p.Gly364Arg) in PIK3CA gene was detected in a non-mosaic status in peripheral blood cells, buccal smears, and skin fibroblasts. Increased levels of phosphorylated AKT residues were observed in fibroblasts, rescued by miransertib.
CONCLUSION: Germline variants in PIK3CA are associated to a mild phenotype characterized by overgrowth, severe macrocephaly, mild intellectual disability, and few dysmorphic features. Investigations of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway should be performed in patients with severe macrocephaly and unspecific physical overgrowth. Longitudinal studies to assess prognosis and cancer predisposition are recommended.