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ASPM mutations identified in patients with primary microcephaly and seizures
  1. J Shen1,*,
  2. W Eyaid2,*,
  3. G H Mochida1,
  4. F Al-Moayyad2,
  5. A Bodell1,
  6. C G Woods3,
  7. C A Walsh1
  1. 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh 11426, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  3. 3Molecular Medicine Unit and Department of Clinical Genetics, University of Leeds, St. James’s University Hospital, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Christopher A Walsh
 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, New Research Building 266, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA;


Background: Human autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH) is a heterogeneous disorder with at least six genetic loci (MCPH1–6), with MCPH5, caused by ASPM mutation, being the most common. Despite the high prevalence of epilepsy in microcephaly patients, microcephaly with frequent seizures has been excluded from the ascertainment of MCPH. Here, we report a pedigree with multiple affected individuals with microcephaly and seizures.

Objective: To identify the gene responsible for microcephaly and seizures in this pedigree.

Methods: Clinical assessments of three patients and brain MRIs of two patients were obtained. Genome-wide linkage screen with 10 k SNP microarray, fine mapping with microsatellite markers, and mutational analysis of the genomic DNA were performed on the pedigree.

Results: We found that the family was linked to the MCPH5 locus on chromosome 1q31.2–q32.1. We screened ASPM and identified a previously unreported nonsense mutation that introduced a premature stop codon in exon 18 of the ASPM gene.

Conclusions: We thus expand the clinical spectrum of ASPM mutations by showing that they can occur in patients with seizures and that the history of seizures alone should not necessarily preclude the diagnosis of primary microcephaly.

  • HC, head circumference
  • MCPH, autosomal recessive primary microcephaly
  • SD, standard deviation
  • ASPM
  • epilepsy
  • mental retardation
  • microcephaly
  • seizure

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  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • This work was supported by National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grant R37NS035129 (to CAW). JS is a Stuart HQ and Victoria Quan Fellow. CAW is an Investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

  • Competing interests: none declared. The funding sources had no direct involvement in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Ethics approval: The genetic study was approved by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Institutional Review Board. Appropriate informed consents were obtained from all involved human subjects.