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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Molecular Autism 1/2018

Delineation of the genetic and clinical spectrum of Phelan-McDermid syndrome caused by SHANK3 point mutations

Molecular Autism > Ausgabe 1/2018
Silvia De Rubeis, Paige M. Siper, Allison Durkin, Jordana Weissman, François Muratet, Danielle Halpern, Maria del Pilar Trelles, Yitzchak Frank, Reymundo Lozano, A. Ting Wang, J. Lloyd Holder Jr, Catalina Betancur, Joseph D. Buxbaum, Alexander Kolevzon
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13229-018-0205-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Catalina Betancur, Joseph D. Buxbaum, and Alexander Kolevzon are co-senior authors.



Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by psychiatric and neurological features. Most reported cases are caused by 22q13.3 deletions, leading to SHANK3 haploinsufficiency, but also usually encompassing many other genes. While the number of point mutations identified in SHANK3 has increased in recent years due to large-scale sequencing studies, systematic studies describing the phenotype of individuals harboring such mutations are lacking.


We provide detailed clinical and genetic data on 17 individuals carrying mutations in SHANK3. We also review 60 previously reported patients with pathogenic or likely pathogenic SHANK3 variants, often lacking detailed phenotypic information.


SHANK3 mutations in our cohort and in previously reported cases were distributed throughout the protein; the majority were truncating and all were compatible with de novo inheritance. Despite substantial allelic heterogeneity, four variants were recurrent (p.Leu1142Valfs*153, p.Ala1227Glyfs*69, p.Arg1255Leufs*25, and c.2265+1G>A), suggesting that these are hotspots for de novo mutations. All individuals studied had intellectual disability, and autism spectrum disorder was prevalent (73%). Severe speech deficits were common, but in contrast to individuals with 22q13.3 deletions, the majority developed single words, including 41% with at least phrase speech. Other common findings were consistent with reports among individuals with 22q13.3 deletions, including hypotonia, motor skill deficits, regression, seizures, brain abnormalities, mild dysmorphic features, and feeding and gastrointestinal problems.


Haploinsufficiency of SHANK3 resulting from point mutations is sufficient to cause a broad range of features associated with PMS. Our findings expand the molecular and phenotypic spectrum of PMS caused by SHANK3 point mutations and suggest that, in general, speech impairment and motor deficits are more severe in the case of deletions. In contrast, renal abnormalities associated with 22q13.3 deletions do not appear to be related to the loss of SHANK3.
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