Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH) is a rare and heterogeneous genetic disorder characterized by reduced head circumference, low cognitive prowess and, in general, architecturally normal brains. As many as 14 different loci have already been mapped. We recruited 35 MCPH families in Pakistan and could identify the genetic cause of the disease in 31 of them. Using homozygosity mapping complemented with whole-exome, gene panel or Sanger sequencing, we identified 12 novel mutations in 3 known MCPH-associated genes – 9 in ASPM, 2 in MCPH1 and 1 in CDK5RAP2. The 2 MCPH1 mutations were homozygous microdeletions of 164,250 and 577,594 bp, respectively, for which we were able to map the exact breakpoints. We also identified four known mutations — three in ASPM and one in WDR62. The latter was initially deemed to be a missense mutation but we demonstrate here that it affects splicing. As to ASPM, as many as 17 out of 27 MCPH5 families that we ascertained in our sample were found to carry the previously reported founder mutation p.Trp1326*. This study adds to the mutational spectra of four known MCPH-associated genes and updates our knowledge about the genetic heterogeneity of MCPH in the Pakistani population considering its ethnic diversity.
- founder mutation
- splicing error