Loss of function mutations in VARS encoding cytoplasmic valyl-tRNA synthetase cause microcephaly, seizures, and progressive cerebral atrophy.
ABSTRACT: Progressive microcephaly and neurodegeneration are genetically heterogenous conditions, largely associated with genes that are essential for the survival of neurons. In this study, we interrogate the genetic etiology of two siblings from a non-consanguineous family with severe early onset of neurological manifestations. Whole exome sequencing identified novel compound heterozygous mutations in VARS that segregated with the proband: a missense (c.3192G>A; p.Met1064Ile) and a splice site mutation (c.1577-2A>G). The VARS gene encodes cytoplasmic valyl-tRNA synthetase (ValRS), an enzyme that is essential during eukaryotic translation. cDNA analysis on patient derived fibroblasts revealed that the splice site acceptor variant allele led to nonsense mediated decay, thus resulting in a null allele. Three-dimensional modeling of ValRS predicts that the missense mutation lies in a highly conserved region and could alter side chain packing, thus affecting tRNA binding or destabilizing the interface between the catalytic and tRNA binding domains. Further quantitation of the expression of VARS showed remarkably reduced levels of mRNA and protein in skin derived fibroblasts. Aminoacylation experiments on patient derived cells showed markedly reduced enzyme activity of ValRS suggesting the mutations to be loss of function. Bi-allelic mutations in cytoplasmic amino acyl tRNA synthetases are well-known for their role in neurodegenerative disorders, yet human disorders associated with VARS mutations have not yet been clinically well characterized. Our study describes the phenotype associated with recessive VARS mutations and further functional delineation of the pathogenicity of novel variants identified, which widens the clinical and genetic spectrum of patients with progressive microcephaly.
Project description:Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) function to transfer amino acids to cognate tRNA molecules, which are required for protein translation. To date, biallelic mutations in 31 ARS genes are known to cause recessive, early-onset severe multi-organ diseases. VARS encodes the only known valine cytoplasmic-localized aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. Here, we report seven patients from five unrelated families with five different biallelic missense variants in VARS. Subjects present with a range of global developmental delay, epileptic encephalopathy and primary or progressive microcephaly. Longitudinal assessment demonstrates progressive cortical atrophy and white matter volume loss. Variants map to the VARS tRNA binding domain and adjacent to the anticodon domain, and disrupt highly conserved residues. Patient primary cells show intact VARS protein but reduced enzymatic activity, suggesting partial loss of function. The implication of VARS in pediatric neurodegeneration broadens the spectrum of human diseases due to mutations in tRNA synthetase genes.
Project description:Two male siblings ages 15 and 10 yr old had similar features of intellectual disability, developmental delay, severe speech impairment, microcephaly, prematurity, and transient elevation of liver enzymes in infancy. Exome sequencing revealed one novel (c.65C>A; p.Ala22Asp) and one ultra-rare (c.3214T>C; p.Phe1072Leu) predicted damaging missense variant in trans in the gene encoding cytoplasmic valyl-tRNA synthetase (VARS). Biallelic variants in VARS have previously been associated with a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by microcephaly, seizures, and cortical atrophy (NDMSCA; MIM #617802). Although our patients have no history of seizures or cortical atrophy, we suggest that the biallelic variants in VARS p.Ala22Asp and p.Phe1072Leu in this family are likely pathogenic and associated with NDMSCA, expanding the clinical phenotype of the condition.
Project description: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.
Project description:The molecular interactions between valyl-tRNA synthetase (ValRS) and tRNA(Val), with the C34-A35-C36 anticodon, from Thermus thermophilus were studied by crystallographic analysis and structure-based mutagenesis. In the ValRS-bound structure of tRNA(Val), the successive A35-C36 residues (the major identity elements) of tRNA(Val) are base-stacked upon each other, and fit into a pocket on the alpha-helix bundle domain of ValRS. Hydrogen bonds are formed between ValRS and A35-C36 of tRNA(Val) in a base-specific manner. The C-terminal coiled-coil domain of ValRS interacts electrostatically with A20 and hydrophobically with the G19*C56 tertiary base pair. The loss of these interactions by the deletion of the coiled-coil domain of ValRS increased the K(M) value for tRNA(Val) 28-fold and decreased the k(cat) value 19-fold in the aminoacylation. The tRNA(Val) K(M) and k(cat) values were increased 21-fold and decreased 32-fold, respectively, by the disruption of the G18*U55 and G19*C56 tertiary base pairs, which associate the D- and T-loops for the formation of the L-shaped tRNA structure. Therefore, the coiled-coil domain of ValRS is likely to stabilize the L-shaped tRNA structure during the aminoacylation reaction.
Project description:Nuclear-coded valyl-tRNA synthetase (ValRS) of eukaryotes is regarded of mitochondrial origin. Complete ValRS sequences obtained by us from two amitochondriate protists, the diplomonad, Giardia lamblia and the parabasalid, Trichomonas vaginalis were of the eukaryotic type, strongly suggesting an identical history of ValRS in all eukaryotes studied so far. The findings indicate that diplomonads are secondarily amitochondriate and give further evidence for such conclusion reached recently concerning parabasalids. Together with similar findings on other amitochondriate groups (microsporidia and entamoebids), this work provides critical support for the emerging notion that no representatives of the premitochondrial stage of eukaryotic phylogenesis exist among the species living today.
Project description:The twn2 mutant of Arabidopsis exhibits a defect in early embryogenesis where, following one or two divisions of the zygote, the decendents of the apical cell arrest. The basal cells that normally give rise to the suspensor proliferate abnormally, giving rise to multiple embryos. A high proportion of the seeds fail to develop viable embryos, and those that do, contain a high proportion of partially or completely duplicated embryos. The adult plants are smaller and less vigorous than the wild type and have a severely stunted root. The twn2-1 mutation, which is the only known allele, was caused by a T-DNA insertion in the 5' untranslated region of a putative valyl-tRNA synthetase gene, valRS. The insertion causes reduced transcription of the valRS gene in reproductive tissues and developing seeds but increased expression in leaves. Analysis of transcript initiation sites and the expression of promoter-reporter fusions in transgenic plants indicated that enhancer elements inside the first two introns interact with the border of the T-DNA to cause the altered pattern of expression of the valRS gene in the twn2 mutant. The phenotypic consequences of this unique mutation are interpreted in the context of a model, suggested by Vernon and Meinke [Vernon, D. M. & Meinke, D. W. (1994) Dev. Biol. 165, 566-573], in which the apical cell and its decendents normally suppress the embryogenic potential of the basal cell and its decendents during early embryo development.
Project description:Germline stem cell proliferation is necessary to populate the germline with sufficient numbers of cells for gametogenesis and for signaling the soma to control organismal properties such as aging. The Caenorhabditis elegans gene glp-4 was identified by the temperature-sensitive allele bn2 where mutants raised at the restrictive temperature produce adults that are essentially germ cell deficient, containing only a small number of stem cells arrested in the mitotic cycle but otherwise have a morphologically normal soma. We determined that glp-4 encodes a valyl aminoacyl transfer RNA synthetase (VARS-2) and that the probable null phenotype is early larval lethality. Phenotypic analysis indicates glp-4(bn2ts) is partial loss of function in the soma. Structural modeling suggests that bn2 Gly296Asp results in partial loss of function by a novel mechanism: aspartate 296 in the editing pocket induces inappropriate deacylation of correctly charged Val-tRNA(val). Intragenic suppressor mutations are predicted to displace aspartate 296 so that it is less able to catalyze inappropriate deacylation. Thus glp-4(bn2ts) likely causes reduced protein translation due to decreased levels of Val-tRNA(val). The germline, as a reproductive preservation mechanism during unfavorable conditions, signals the soma for organismal aging, stress and pathogen resistance. glp-4(bn2ts) mutants are widely used to generate germline deficient mutants for organismal studies, under the assumption that the soma is unaffected. As reduced translation has also been demonstrated to alter organismal properties, it is unclear whether changes in aging, stress resistance, etc. observed in glp-4(bn2ts) mutants are the result of germline deficiency or reduced translation.
Project description:BarA of Streptomyces virginiae is a specific receptor protein for virginiae butanolide (VB), one of the gamma-butyrolactone autoregulators of the Streptomyces species, and acts as a transcriptional regulator controlling both virginiamycin production and VB biosynthesis. The downstream gene barB, the transcription of which is under the tight control of the VB-BarA system, was found to be transcribed as a polycistronic mRNA with its downstream region, and DNA sequencing revealed a 1,554-bp open reading frame (ORF) beginning at 161 bp downstream of the barB termination codon. The ORF product showed high homology (68 to 73%) to drug efflux proteins having 14 transmembrane segments and was named varS (for S. virginiae antibiotic resistance). Heterologous expression of varS with S. lividans as a host resulted in virginiamycin S-specific resistance, suggesting that varS encoded a virginiamycin S-specific transport protein. Northern blot analysis indicated that the bicistronic transcript of barB-varS appeared 1 to 2 h before the onset of virginiamycin M1 and S production, at which time VB was produced, while exogenously added virginiamycin S apparently induced the monocistronic varS transcript.
Project description:CLP1 is a RNA kinase involved in tRNA splicing. Recently, CLP1 kinase-dead mice were shown to display a neuromuscular disorder with loss of motor neurons and muscle paralysis. Human genome analyses now identified a CLP1 homozygous missense mutation (p.R140H) in five unrelated families, leading to a loss of CLP1 interaction with the tRNA splicing endonuclease (TSEN) complex, largely reduced pre-tRNA cleavage activity, and accumulation of linear tRNA introns. The affected individuals develop severe motor-sensory defects, cortical dysgenesis, and microcephaly. Mice carrying kinase-dead CLP1 also displayed microcephaly and reduced cortical brain volume due to the enhanced cell death of neuronal progenitors that is associated with reduced numbers of cortical neurons. Our data elucidate a neurological syndrome defined by CLP1 mutations that impair tRNA splicing. Reduction of a founder mutation to homozygosity illustrates the importance of rare variations in disease and supports the clan genomics hypothesis.
Project description:Hydrolytic editing activities are present in aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases possessing reduced amino acid discrimination in the synthetic reactions. Post-transfer hydrolysis of misacylated tRNA in class I editing enzymes occurs in a spatially separate domain inserted into the catalytic Rossmann fold, but the location and mechanisms of pre-transfer hydrolysis of misactivated amino acids have been uncertain. Here, we use novel kinetic approaches to distinguish among three models for pre-transfer editing by Escherichia coli isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase (IleRS). We demonstrate that tRNA-dependent hydrolysis of noncognate valyl-adenylate by IleRS is largely insensitive to mutations in the editing domain of the enzyme and that noncatalytic hydrolysis after release is too slow to account for the observed rate of clearing. Measurements of the microscopic rate constants for amino acid transfer to tRNA in IleRS and the related valyl-tRNA synthetase (ValRS) further suggest that pre-transfer editing in IleRS is an enzyme-catalyzed activity residing in the synthetic active site. In this model, the balance between pre-transfer and post-transfer editing pathways is controlled by kinetic partitioning of the noncognate aminoacyl-adenylate. Rate constants for hydrolysis and transfer of a noncognate intermediate are roughly equal in IleRS, whereas in ValRS transfer to tRNA is 200-fold faster than hydrolysis. In consequence, editing by ValRS occurs nearly exclusively by post-transfer hydrolysis in the editing domain, whereas in IleRS both pre- and post-transfer editing are important. In both enzymes, the rates of amino acid transfer to tRNA are similar for cognate and noncognate aminoacyl-adenylates, providing a significant contrast with editing DNA polymerases.