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Homozygous WASHC4 variant in two sisters causes a syndromic phenotype defined by dysmorphisms, intellectual disability, profound developmental disorder, and skeletal muscle involvement.

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Czech, Artur 
Hentschel, Andreas 
Münchberg, Ute 
Horvath, Rita 


Recessive variants in WASHC4 are linked to intellectual disability complicated by poor language skills, short stature, and dysmorphic features. The protein encoded by WASHC4 is part of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein and SCAR homolog family, co-localizes with actin in cells, and promotes Arp2/3-dependent actin polymerization in vitro. Functional studies in a zebrafish model suggested that WASHC4 knockdown may also affect skeletal muscles by perturbing protein clearance. However, skeletal muscle involvement has not been reported so far in patients, and precise biochemical studies allowing a deeper understanding of the molecular etiology of the disease are still lacking. Here, we report two siblings with a homozygous WASHC4 variant expanding the clinical spectrum of the disease and provide a phenotypical comparison with cases reported in the literature. Proteomic profiling of fibroblasts of the WASHC4-deficient patient revealed dysregulation of proteins relevant for the maintenance of the neuromuscular axis. Immunostaining on a muscle biopsy derived from the same patient confirmed dysregulation of proteins relevant for proper muscle function, thus highlighting an affliction of muscle cells upon loss of functional WASHC4. The results of histological and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopic studies support the concept of a functional role of the WASHC4 protein in humans by altering protein processing and clearance. The proteomic analysis confirmed key molecular players in vitro and highlighted, for the first time, the involvement of skeletal muscle in patients. © 2021 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


Funder: European Regional Development Fund; Id:


KIAA1033, WASHC4, coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy, dysmorphisms, fibroblast proteomics, intellectual disability, muscle autophagy, valosin-containing protein, Child, Developmental Disabilities, Humans, Intellectual Disability, Muscle, Skeletal, Mutation, Pedigree, Phenotype, Proteomics, Siblings, Exome Sequencing

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J Pathol

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Wellcome Trust (109915_A_15_Z)
Medical Research Council (MR/N025431/2)
MRC (MR/V009346/1)