Letter abstract

Nature Genetics 41, 1037 - 1042 (2009)
Published online: 9 August 2009 | doi:10.1038/ng.422

FOXC1 is required for normal cerebellar development and is a major contributor to chromosome 6p25.3 Dandy-Walker malformation

Kimberly A Aldinger1, Ordan J Lehmann2, Louanne Hudgins3, Victor V Chizhikov4, Alexander G Bassuk5, Lesley C Ades6,7, Ian D Krantz8, William B Dobyns4,9 & Kathleen J Millen1,4,9


Dandy-Walker malformation (DWM), the most common human cerebellar malformation, has only one characterized associated locus1, 2. Here we characterize a second DWM-linked locus on 6p25.3, showing that deletions or duplications encompassing FOXC1 are associated with cerebellar and posterior fossa malformations including cerebellar vermis hypoplasia (CVH), mega-cisterna magna (MCM) and DWM. Foxc1-null mice have embryonic abnormalities of the rhombic lip due to loss of mesenchyme-secreted signaling molecules with subsequent loss of Atoh1 expression in vermis. Foxc1 homozygous hypomorphs have CVH with medial fusion and foliation defects. Human FOXC1 heterozygous mutations are known to affect eye development, causing a spectrum of glaucoma-associated anomalies (Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome, ARS; MIM no. 601631). We report the first brain imaging data from humans with FOXC1 mutations and show that these individuals also have CVH. We conclude that alteration of FOXC1 function alone causes CVH and contributes to MCM and DWM. Our results highlight a previously unrecognized role for mesenchyme-neuroepithelium interactions in the mid-hindbrain during early embryogenesis.

  1. Committee on Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  2. Departments of Ophthalmology and Medical Genetics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
  3. Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.
  4. Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  5. Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.
  6. Department of Clinical Genetics, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  7. Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  8. Division of Human Genetics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
  9. Department of Neurology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Correspondence to: Kathleen J Millen1,4,9 e-mail: kmillen@genetics.bsd.uchicago.edu


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