Prader-Willi syndrome: reflections on seminal studies and future therapies


Chung MS, Langouët M, Chamberlain SJ, Carmichael GG

Scientific Notation:

Open Biology

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Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is caused by the loss of function of the paternally inherited 15q11-q13 locus. This region is governed by genomic imprinting, a phenomenon in which genes are expressed exclusively from one parental allele. The genomic imprinting of the 15q11-q13 locus is established in the germline and is largely controlled by a bipartite imprinting centre. One part, termed the Prader-Willi syndrome imprinting center (PWS-IC), comprises a CpG island that is unmethylated on the paternal allele and methylated on the maternal allele. The second part, termed the Angelman syndrome imprinting centre, is required to silence the PWS_IC in the maternal germline. The loss of the paternal contribution of the imprinted 15q11-q13 locus most frequently occurs owing to a large deletion of the entire imprinted region but can also occur  through maternal uniparental disomy or an imprinting defect. While PWS is considered a contiguous gene syndrome based on large-deletion and uniparental disomy patients, the lack of expression of only non-coding RNA transcripts from the SNURF-SNRPN/SNHG14 may be the primary cause of PWS. Patients with
small atypical deletions of the paternal SNORD116 cluster alone appear to have most of the PWS related clinical phenotypes. The loss of the maternal contribution of the 15q11-q13 locus causes a separate and distinct condition called Angelman syndrome. Importantly, while much has been learned about the regulation and expression of genes and transcripts deriving from the 15q11-q13 locus, there remains much to be learned about how these genes and transcripts contribute at the molecular level to the clinical traits
and developmental aspects of PWS that have been observed.

FPWR Grant:

Genomewide identification of mRNA sites of 2’-O methylation targeted by SNORD116 snoRNAs