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Mol Med Rep. 2017 Apr;15(4):2247-2254. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2017.6249. Epub 2017 Feb 24.

Prevalence and spectrum of NKX2.5 mutations in patients with congenital atrial septal defect and atrioventricular block.

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Department of Cardiology, Shanghai Chest Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030, P.R. China.
Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Renji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200127, P.R. China.


Congenital atrial septal defect (ASD) and progressive atriventricular block (AVB) are the two most common phenotypes linked to NK2 homeobox 5 (NKX2.5) mutations in animals and humans. However, the prevalence and spectrum of NKX2.5 mutation in patients with ASD and AVB remain to be elucidated. In the present study, the coding exons and flanking introns of the NKX2.5 gene, which encodes a homeobox‑containing transcription factor essential for development of the heart, were sequenced in a cohort of 62 unrelated patients with ASD and AVB, and subsequently in a mutation carrier's available family members. As controls, 300 unrelated, ethnically‑matched healthy individuals were recruited, who were also genotyped for NKX2.5. The functional consequence of the mutant NKX2.5 was evaluated in contrast to its wild‑type counterpart using a dual‑luciferase reporter assay system. As a result, a novel heterozygous NKX2.5 mutation, p.Q181X, was identified in an index patient with ASD and AVB, with a prevalence of ~1.61%. Genetic analysis of the proband's pedigree revealed that the mutation co‑segregated with ASD and AVB with complete penetrance. The nonsense mutation, which eliminated partial homeobox and the carboxyl terminus, was absent in the 600 control chromosomes. Functional evaluation showed that the NKX2.5 mutant had no transcriptional activity. Furthermore, the mutation disrupted the synergistic activation between NKX2.5 and GATA binding protein 4, another cardiac core transcription factor associated with ASD. The results of the present study expand the spectrum of NKX2.5 mutations linked to ASD and AVB, and indicated that NKX2.5 loss‑of‑function mutations are an uncommon cause of ASD and AVB in humans.

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