Joe Rainger 1 , Margaret Keighren 1 , Douglas R. Keene 2 , Noe L. Charbonneau 2 , Jacqueline K. Rainger 1 , Malcolm Fisher 1 , Sebastien Mella 1 , Jeffrey T-J. Huang 3 , Lorraine Rose 4 , Rob van't Hof 4 , Lynne Y. Sakai 2 , Ian J. Jackson 1 , * , David R. FitzPatrick 1 , *
12 December 2013
Mp is an irradiation-induced mouse mutation associated with microphthalmia, micropinna and hind limb syndactyly. We show that Mp is caused by a 660 kb balanced inversion on chromosome 18 producing reciprocal 3-prime gene fusion events involving Fbn2 and Isoc1. The Isoc1-Fbn2 fusion gene ( Isoc1 Mp ) mRNA has a frameshift and early stop codon resulting in nonsense mediated decay. Homozygous deletions of Isoc1 do not support a significant developmental role for this gene. The Fbn2-Isoc1 fusion gene ( Fbn2 Mp) predicted protein consists of the N-terminal Fibrillin-2 (amino acids 1–2646, exons 1–62) lacking the C-terminal furin-cleavage site with a short out-of-frame extension encoded by the final exon of Isoc1. The Mp limb phenotype is consistent with that reported in Fbn2 null embryos. However, severe eye malformations, a defining feature of Mp, are not seen in Fbn2 null animals. Fibrillin-2 Mp forms large fibrillar structures within the rough endoplasmic reticulum (rER) associated with an unfolded protein response and quantitative mass spectrometry shows a generalised defect in protein secretion in conditioned media from mutant cells. In the embryonic eye Fbn2 is expressed within the peripheral ciliary margin (CM). Mp embryos show reduced canonical Wnt-signalling in the CM – known to be essential for ciliary body development - and show subsequent aplasia of CM-derived structures. We propose that the Mp “worse-than-null” eye phenotype plausibly results from a failure in normal trafficking of proteins that are co-expressed with Fbn2 within the CM. The prediction of similar trans-acting protein effects will be an important challenge in the medical interpretation of human mutations from whole exome sequencing.
With the current increase in large-scale sequencing efforts, correct interpretation of mutation consequences has never been more important. Here, we present evidence for a trans-acting protein effect in a novel mutation of Fbn2, associated with severe developmental eye defects not found in loss of function Fibrillin-2 alleles. The mutant protein is expressed in the developing eye but is unable to exit the cells, instead forming large protein aggregates within the endoplasmic reticulum. We observed ER-stress in mutant eyes, and detected a general reduction to secretion of co-expressed proteins in cell cultures. We propose that similar effects could be caused by mutations to other proteins that are trafficked through the ER, highlighting a disease mechanism that results in different clinical outcomes than observed, or predicted, from loss-off-function alleles.