A second hotspot for pathogenic exon-skipping variants in CDC45

March 11, 2024

Kelly Schoch 1, Mischa S G Ruegg 2, Bridget J Fellows 2, Joseph Cao 3, Sabine Uhrig 4, Stephanie Einsele-Scholz 5, Saskia Biskup 5, Samuel R A Hawarden 6, Vincenzo Salpietro 7, Valeria Capra 8; Undiagnosed Diseases Network; Chris M Brown 2, Andrea Accogli 9 10, Vandana Shashi 1, Louise S Bicknell 11


Biallelic pathogenic variants in CDC45 are associated with Meier-Gorlin syndrome with craniosynostosis (MGORS type 7), which also includes short stature and absent/hypoplastic patellae. Identified variants act through a hypomorphic loss of function mechanism, to reduce CDC45 activity and impact DNA replication initiation. In addition to missense and premature termination variants, several pathogenic synonymous variants have been identified, most of which cause increased exon skipping of exon 4, which encodes an essential part of the RecJ-orthologue’s DHH domain. Here we have identified a second cohort of families segregating CDC45 variants, where patients have craniosynostosis and a reduction in height, alongside common facial dysmorphisms, including thin eyebrows, consistent with MGORS7. Skipping of exon 15 is a consequence of two different variants, including a shared synonymous variant that is enriched in individuals of East Asian ancestry, while other variants in trans are predicted to alter key intramolecular interactions in α/β domain II, or cause retention of an intron within the 3’UTR. Our cohort and functional data confirm exon skipping is a relatively common pathogenic mechanism in CDC45, and highlights the need for alternative splicing events, such as exon skipping, to be especially considered for variants initially predicted to be less likely to cause the phenotype, particularly synonymous variants.