A hypomorphic inherited pathogenic variant in DDX3X causes male intellectual disability with additional neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative features.
BACKGROUND: Intellectual disability (ID) is a common condition with a population prevalence frequency of 1-3% and an enrichment for males, driven in part by the contribution of mutant alleles on the X-chromosome. Among the more than 500 genes associated with ID, DDX3X represents an outlier in sex specificity. Nearly all reported pathogenic variants of DDX3X are de novo, affect mostly females, and appear to be loss of function variants, consistent with the hypothesis that haploinsufficiency at this locus on the X-chromosome is likely to be lethal in males. RESULTS: We evaluated two male siblings with syndromic features characterized by mild-to-moderate ID and progressive spasticity. Quad-based whole-exome sequencing revealed a maternally inherited missense variant encoding p.R79K in DDX3X in both siblings and no other apparent pathogenic variants. We assessed its possible relevance to their phenotype using an established functional assay for DDX3X activity in zebrafish embryos and found that this allele causes a partial loss of DDX3X function and thus represents a hypomorphic variant. CONCLUSIONS: Our genetic and functional data suggest that partial loss of function of DDX3X can cause syndromic ID. The p.R79K allele affects a region of the protein outside the critical RNA helicase domain, offering a credible explanation for the observed retention of partial function, viability in hemizygous males, and lack of pathology in females. These findings expand the gender spectrum of pathology of this locus and suggest that analysis for DDX3X variants should be considered relevant for both males and females.
Kellaris, G; Khan, K; Baig, SM; Tsai, I-C; Zamora, FM; Ruggieri, P; Natowicz, MR; Katsanis, N
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