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      Frasier Syndrome with Childhood-Onset Renal Failure

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          Background: The Wilms’ tumour 1 (WT1) gene encodes a protein which is believed to exert transcriptional and tumour-suppressor activities. Mutations of this gene have occasionally been associated with Wilms’ tumour (<15% of cases) and, more consistently, with three syndromes characterized by urogenital abnormalities (WAGR, Denys-Drash and Frasier syndrome). Subject/Method: A 25-year-old phenotypic female with a 46,XY karyotype presented with amenorrhoea. An ultrasound scan showed streak gonads and a rudimentary uterus. The patient had a history of post-streptococcal glomerulonephrosis, when aged 4 years, which had rapidly progressed to kidney failure, requiring transplantation at age 8. Result: Frasier syndrome was suspected and confirmed by genetic analysis. In fact, direct sequencing of the PCR product of the intron 9 donor splice site revealed a substitution of guanine for adenine in position +5. Conclusion: Besides being one of the few Frasier syndrome cases to be genetically characterized, this case is interesting because of the unusually early-onset renal failure.

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          Germline mutations in the Wilms' tumor suppressor gene are associated with abnormal urogenital development in Denys-Drash syndrome.

          Denys-Drash syndrome is a rare human condition in which severe urogenital aberrations result in renal failure, pseudohermaphroditism, and Wilms' tumor (nephroblastoma). To investigate its possible role, we have analyzed the coding exons of the Wilms' tumor suppressor gene (WT1) for germline mutations. In ten independent cases of Denys-Drash syndrome, point mutations in the zinc finger domains of one WT1 gene copy were found. Nine of these mutations are found within exon 9 (zinc finger III); the remaining mutation is in exon 8 (zinc finger II). These mutations directly affect DNA sequence recognition. In two families analyzed, the mutations were shown to arise de novo. Wilms' tumors from three individuals and one juvenile granulosa cell tumor demonstrate reduction to homozygosity for the mutated WT1 allele. Our results provide evidence of a direct role for WT1 in Denys-Drash syndrome and thus urogenital system development.
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            Donor splice-site mutations in WT1 are responsible for Frasier syndrome.

            Frasier syndrome (FS) is a rare disease defined by male pseudo-hermaphroditism and progressive glomerulopathy. Patients present with normal female external genitalia, streak gonads and XY karyotype and frequently develop gonadoblastoma. Glomerular symptoms consist of childhood proteinuria and nephrotic syndrome, characterized by unspecific focal and segmental glomerular sclerosis, progressing to end-stage renal failure in adolescence or early adulthood. No case of Wilms' tumour has been reported, even in patients with extended follow-up. In contrast with FS patients, most individuals with Denys-Drash syndrome (DDS; refs 6,7) have ambiguous genitalia or a female phenotype, an XY karyotype and dysgenetic gonads. Renal symptoms are characterized by diffuse mesangial sclerosis, usually before the age of one year, and patients frequently develop Wilms' tumour. Mutations of the Wilms'-tumour gene, WT1, cause different pathologies of the urogenital system, including DDS. WT1 is composed of ten exons and encodes a protein with four zinc-finger motifs and transcriptional and tumour-suppressor activities. Alternative splicing generates four isoforms: the fifth exon may or may not be present, and an alternative splice site in intron 9 allows the addition of three amino acids (KTS) between the third and fourth zinc fingers of WT1 (ref. 17). Here we demonstrate that FS is caused by mutations in the donor splice site in intron 9 of WT1, with the predicted loss of the +KTS isoform. Examination of WT1 transcripts indeed showed a diminution of the +KTS/-KTS isoform ratio in patients with FS.
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              Frasier syndrome, part of the Denys Drash continuum or simply a WT1 gene associated disorder of intersex and nephropathy?

              Dysfunction of the Wilms' Tumour gene (WT1), a transcription factor critical for normal development and function of the urogenital tract, can result in both tumourigenesis [corrected] and urogenital abnormalities. The association of WT1 gene mutations with most cases of Denys-Drash syndrome is well described. More recently WT1 mutations have also been described in a related condition, Frasier syndrome. We report a case where genetic analysis showed a WT1 mutation typically associated with Frasier syndrome: a 1228 + 5 guanine to adenine substitution at the 3' alternative splice donor site in intron 9. The case provides a focus for the discussion of recent evidence that Denys Drash and Frasier syndrome form two ends of a spectrum of disorders. In addition, it illustrates the increasing significance of genetic investigation within clinical practice for diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic purposes and the importance of karyotype analysis in phenotypically normal girls with renal disease.

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                15 August 2001
                : 55
                : 2
                : 77-80
                aCentro di Auxoendocrinologia e bIstituto di Medicina Molecolare ‘Angelo Nocivelli’, Clinica Pediatrica dell’Università di Brescia; cIstituto di Genetica, Università di Pavia, Italia
                49974 Horm Res 2001;55:77–80
                © 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 1, References: 17, Pages: 4
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