Apr 5, 2020

ZNF423 patient variants, truncations, and in-frame deletions in mice define an allele-dependent range of midline brain abnormalities

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
O. DeshpandeBruce Alan Hamilton


Interpreting rare variants remains a challenge in personal genomics, especially for disorders with several causal genes and for genes that cause multiple disorders. ZNF423 encodes a transcriptional regulatory protein that intersects several developmental pathways. ZNF423 has been implicated in rare neurodevelopmental disorders, consistent with midline brain defects in Zfp423-mutant mice, but pathogenic potential of most patient variants remains uncertain. We engineered ~50 patient-derived and small deletion variants into the highly-conserved mouse ortholog and examined neuroanatomical measures for 791 littermate pairs. Three substitutions previously asserted pathogenic appeared benign, while a fourth was effectively null. Heterozygous premature termination codon (PTC) variants showed mild haploabnormality, consistent with loss-of-function intolerance inferred from human population data. In-frame deletions of select zinc fingers showed mild to moderate abnormalities, as did low-expression variants. These results affirm the need for functional validation of rare variants in biological context and demonstrate cost-effective modeling of neuroanatomical abnormalities in mice.

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