FGFR2 mutation in 46,XY sex reversal with craniosynostosis

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Abstract

Patients with 46,XY gonadal dysgenesis (GD) exhibit genital anomalies, which range from hypospadias to complete male-to-female sex reversal. However, a molecular diagnosis is made in only 30% of cases. Heterozygous mutations in the human FGFR2 gene cause various craniosynostosis syndromes including Crouzon and Pfeiffer, but testicular defects were not reported. Here, we describe a patient whose features we would suggest represent a new FGFR2-related syndrome, craniosynostosis with XY male-to-female sex reversal or CSR. The craniosynostosis patient was chromosomally XY, but presented as a phenotypic female due to complete GD. DNA sequencing identified the FGFR2c heterozygous missense mutation, c.1025G>C (p.Cys342Ser). Substitution of Cys342 by Ser or other amino acids (Arg/Phe/Try/Tyr) has been previously reported in Crouzon and Pfeiffer syndrome. We show that the ‘knock-in’ Crouzon mouse model Fgfr2cC342Y/C342Y carrying a Cys342Tyr substitution displays XY gonadal sex reversal with variable expressivity. We also show that despite FGFR2c-Cys342Tyr being widely considered a gain-of-function mutation, Cys342Tyr substitution in the gonad leads to loss of function, as demonstrated by sex reversal in Fgfr2cC342Y/− mice carrying the knock-in allele on a null background. The rarity of our patient suggests the influence of modifier genes which exacerbated the testicular phenotype. Indeed, patient whole exome analysis revealed several potential modifiers expressed in Sertoli cells at the time of testis determination in mice. In summary, this study identifies the first FGFR2 mutation in a 46,XY GD patient. We conclude that, in certain rare genetic contexts, maintaining normal levels of FGFR2 signaling is important for human testis determination.

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