Background Heterozygous NSD1 mutations were identified in 60%–90% of patients with Sotos syndrome. Recently, mutations of the SETD2 and DNMT3A genes were identified in patients exhibiting only some Sotos syndrome features. Both NSD1 and SETD2 genes encode epigenetic ‘writer’ proteins that catalyse methylation of histone 3 lysine 36 (H3K36me). The DNMT3A gene encodes an epigenetic ‘reader’ protein of the H3K36me chromatin mark.
Methods We aimed at confirming the implication of DNMT3A and SETD2 mutations in an overgrowth phenotype, through a comprehensive targeted-next generation sequencing (NGS) screening in 210 well-phenotyped index cases with a Sotos-like phenotype and no NSD1 mutation, from a French cohort.
Results Six unreported heterozygous likely pathogenic variants in DNMT3A were identified in seven patients: two nonsense variants and four de novo missense variants. One de novo unreported heterozygous frameshift variant was identified in SETD2 in one patient. All the four DNMT3A missense variants affected DNMT3A functional domains, suggesting a potential deleterious impact. DNMT3A-mutated index cases shared similar clinical features including overgrowth phenotype characterised by postnatal tall stature (≥+2SD), macrocephaly (≥+2SD), overweight or obesity at older age, intellectual deficiency and minor facial features. The phenotype associated with SETD2 mutations remains to be described more precisely. The p.Arg882Cys missense de novo constitutional DNMT3A variant found in two patients is the most frequent DNMT3A somatic mutation in acute leukaemia.
Conclusions Our results illustrate the power of targeted NGS to identify rare disease-causing variants. These observations provided evidence for a unifying mechanism (disruption of apposition and reading of the epigenetic chromatin mark H3K36me) that causes an overgrowth syndrome phenotype. Further studies are needed in order to assess the role of SETD2 and DNMT3A in intellectual deficiency without overgrowth.
- Sotos syndrome