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Publication Detail
Identification of a wide spectrum of ciliary gene mutations in nonsyndromic biliary atresia patients implicates ciliary dysfunction as a novel disease mechanism
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Lam WY, Tang CSM, So MT, Yue H, Hsu JS, Chung PHY, Nicholls JM, Yeung F, Lee CWD, Ngo DN, Nguyen PAH, Mitchison HM, Jenkins D, O'Callaghan C, Garcia-Barceló MM, Lee SL, Sham PC, Lui VCH, Tam PKH
  • Publication date:
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Background: Biliary atresia (BA) is the most common obstructive cholangiopathy in neonates, often progressing to end-stage cirrhosis. BA pathogenesis is believed to be multifactorial, but the genetic contribution, especially for nonsyndromic BA (common form: > 85%) remains poorly defined. Methods: We conducted whole exome sequencing on 89 nonsyndromic BA trios to identify rare variants contributing to BA etiology. Functional evaluation using patients’ liver biopsies, human cell and zebrafish models were performed. Clinical impact on respiratory system was assessed with clinical evaluation, nasal nitric oxide (nNO), high speed video analysis and transmission electron microscopy. Findings: We detected rare, deleterious de novo or biallelic variants in liver-expressed ciliary genes in 31.5% (28/89) of the BA patients. Burden test revealed 2.6-fold (odds ratio (OR) [95% confidence intervals (CI)]= 2.58 [1.15–6.07], adjusted p = 0.034) over-representation of rare, deleterious mutations in liver-expressed ciliary gene set in patients compared to controls. Functional analyses further demonstrated absence of cilia in the BA livers with KIF3B and TTC17 mutations, and knockdown of PCNT, KIF3B and TTC17 in human control fibroblasts and cholangiocytes resulted in reduced number of cilia. Additionally, CRISPR/Cas9-engineered zebrafish knockouts of KIF3B, PCNT and TTC17 displayed reduced biliary flow. Abnormally low level of nNO was detected in 80% (8/10) of BA patients carrying deleterious ciliary mutations, implicating the intrinsic ciliary defects. Interpretation: Our findings support strong genetic susceptibility for nonsyndromic BA. Ciliary gene mutations leading to cholangiocyte cilia malformation and dysfunction could be a key biological mechanism in BA pathogenesis. Funding: The study is supported by General Research Fund, HMRF Commissioned Paediatric Research at HKCH and Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine Enhanced New Staff Start-up Fund.
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