American journal of human genetics

Mutations in DOCK7 in individuals with epileptic encephalopathy and cortical blindness.

PMID 24814191


Epileptic encephalopathies are increasingly thought to be of genetic origin, although the exact etiology remains uncertain in many cases. We describe here three girls from two nonconsanguineous families affected by a clinical entity characterized by dysmorphic features, early-onset intractable epilepsy, intellectual disability, and cortical blindness. In individuals from each family, brain imaging also showed specific changes, including an abnormally marked pontobulbar sulcus and abnormal signals (T2 hyperintensities) and atrophy in the occipital lobe. Exome sequencing performed in the first family did not reveal any gene with rare homozygous variants shared by both affected siblings. It did, however, show one gene, DOCK7, with two rare heterozygous variants (c.2510delA [p.Asp837Alafs(∗)48] and c.3709C>T [p.Arg1237(∗)]) found in both affected sisters. Exome sequencing performed in the proband of the second family also showed the presence of two rare heterozygous variants (c.983C>G [p.Ser328(∗)] and c.6232G>T [p.Glu2078(∗)]) in DOCK7. Sanger sequencing confirmed that all three individuals are compound heterozygotes for these truncating mutations in DOCK7. These mutations have not been observed in public SNP databases and are predicted to abolish domains critical for DOCK7 function. DOCK7 codes for a Rac guanine nucleotide exchange factor that has been implicated in the genesis and polarization of newborn pyramidal neurons and in the morphological differentiation of GABAergic interneurons in the developing cortex. All together, these observations suggest that loss of DOCK7 function causes a syndromic form of epileptic encephalopathy by affecting multiple neuronal processes.