DNA methylation epi-signature is associated with two molecularly and phenotypically distinct clinical subtypes of Phelan-McDermid syndrome
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Background: Phelan-McDermid syndrome is characterized by a range of neurodevelopmental phenotypes with incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. It is caused by a variable size and breakpoint microdeletions in the distal long arm of chromosome 22, referred to as 22q13.3 deletion syndrome, including the SHANK3 gene. Genetic defects in a growing number of neurodevelopmental genes have been shown to cause genome-wide disruptions in epigenomic profiles referred to as epi-signatures in affected individuals. Results: In this study we assessed genome-wide DNA methylation profiles in a cohort of 22 individuals with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, including 11 individuals with large (2 to 5.8 Mb) 22q13.3 deletions, 10 with small deletions (< 1 Mb) or intragenic variants in SHANK3 and one mosaic case. We describe a novel genome-wide DNA methylation epi-signature in a subset of individuals with Phelan-McDermid syndrome. Conclusion: We identified the critical region including the BRD1 gene as responsible for the Phelan-McDermid syndrome epi-signature. Metabolomic profiles of individuals with the DNA methylation epi-signature showed significantly different metabolomic profiles indicating evidence of two molecularly and phenotypically distinct clinical subtypes of Phelan-McDermid syndrome.