Biallelic VARS variants cause developmental encephalopathy with microcephaly that is recapitulated in vars knockout zebrafish

Aleksandra Siekierska, Hannah Stamberger, Tine Deconinck, Stephanie N. Oprescu, Michèle Partoens, Yifan Zhang, Jo Sourbron, Elias Adriaenssens, Patrick Mullen, Patrick Wiencek, Katia Hardies, Jeong Soo Lee, Hoi Khoanh Giong, Felix Distelmaier, Orly Elpeleg, Katherine L. Helbig, Joseph Hersh, Sedat Isikay, Elizabeth Jordan, Ender KaracaAngela Kecskes, James R. Lupski, Reka Kovacs-Nagy, Patrick May, Vinodh Narayanan, Manuela Pendziwiat, Keri Ramsey, Sampathkumar Rangasamy, Deepali N. Shinde, Ronen Spiegel, Vincent Timmerman, Sarah von Spiczak, Ingo Helbig, C4RCD Research Group, Rikke S. Møller, Helle Hjalgrim, AR working group of the EuroEPINOMICS RES Consortium, Sarah Weckhuysen, Christopher Francklyn, Anthony Antonellis, Peter A M de Witte, Peter De Jonghe

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Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases (ARSs) link specific amino acids with their cognate transfer RNAs in a critical early step of protein translation. Mutations in ARSs have emerged as a cause of recessive, often complex neurological disease traits. Here we report an allelic series consisting of seven novel and two previously reported biallelic variants in valyl-tRNA synthetase (VARS) in ten patients with a developmental encephalopathy with microcephaly, often associated with early-onset epilepsy. In silico, in vitro, and yeast complementation assays demonstrate that the underlying pathomechanism of these mutations is most likely a loss of protein function. Zebrafish modeling accurately recapitulated some of the key neurological disease traits. These results provide both genetic and biological insights into neurodevelopmental disease and pave the way for further in-depth research on ARS related recessive disorders and precision therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number708
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 12. Feb 2019

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