Whole-exome sequencing for variant discovery in blepharospasm

Jun Tian, Satya R. Vemula, Jianfeng Xiao, Enza Maria Valente, Giovanni Defazio, Simona Petrucci, Angelo Fabio Gigante, Monika Rudzińska-Bar, Zbigniew K. Wszolek, Kathleen D. Kennelly, Ryan J. Uitti, Jay A. van Gerpen, Peter Hedera, Elizabeth J. Trimble, Mark S. LeDoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Blepharospasm (BSP) is a type of focal dystonia characterized by involuntary orbicularis oculi spasms that are usually bilateral, synchronous, and symmetrical. Despite strong evidence for genetic contributions to BSP, progress in the field has been constrained by small cohorts, incomplete penetrance, and late age of onset. Although several genetic etiologies for dystonia have been identified through whole-exome sequencing (WES), none of these are characteristically associated with BSP as a singular or predominant manifestation. Methods: We performed WES on 31 subjects from 21 independent pedigrees with BSP. The strongest candidate sequence variants derived from in silico analyses were confirmed with bidirectional Sanger sequencing and subjected to cosegregation analysis. Results: Cosegregating deleterious variants (GRCH37/hg19) in CACNA1A (NM_001127222.1: c.7261_7262delinsGT, p.Pro2421Val), REEP4 (NM_025232.3: c.109C>T, p.Arg37Trp), TOR2A (NM_130459.3: c.568C>T, p.Arg190Cys), and ATP2A3 (NM_005173.3: c.1966C>T, p.Arg656Cys) were identified in four independent multigenerational pedigrees. Deleterious variants in HS1BP3 (NM_022460.3: c.94C>A, p.Gly32Cys) and GNA14 (NM_004297.3: c.989_990del, p.Thr330ArgfsTer67) were identified in a father and son with segmental cranio-cervical dystonia first manifest as BSP. Deleterious variants in DNAH17, TRPV4, CAPN11, VPS13C, UNC13B, SPTBN4, MYOD1, and MRPL15 were found in two or more independent pedigrees. To our knowledge, none of these genes have previously been associated with isolated BSP, although other CACNA1A mutations have been associated with both positive and negative motor disorders including ataxia, episodic ataxia, hemiplegic migraine, and dystonia. Conclusions: Our WES datasets provide a platform for future studies of BSP genetics which will demand careful consideration of incomplete penetrance, pleiotropy, population stratification, and oligogenic inheritance patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-626
Number of pages26
JournalMolecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Purkinje cell
  • blepharospasm
  • cerebellum
  • dystonia
  • whole-exome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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