Identification of FOXH1 mutations in patients with sporadic conotruncal heart defect


Wei W, Li B, Li F, Sun K, Jiang X, Xu R.

Clin Genet. 2020 Apr;97(4):576-585. doi: 10.1111/cge.13710. Epub 2020 Feb 12.

PMID: 32003456

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Conotruncal heart defects (CTD) are an important subtype of congenital heart disease that occur due to abnormality in the development of the cardiac outflow tract (OFT). FOXH1 is a transcription factor that participates in the morphogenesis of the right ventricle and OFT. In this study, we confirmed the expression of FOXH1 in mouse and human embryos during OFT development. We also scanned the coding exons and splicing regions of the FOXH1 gene in 605 patients with sporadic CTD and 300 unaffected controls, from which we identified seven heterozygous FOXH1 gene mutations. According to bioinformatics analysis results, they were predicted potentially deleterious at conserved amino acid sites. Western blot was used to show that all the variants decreased the expression of FOXH1 protein, while dual-luciferase reporter assay showed that six of them, with an exception of p.P35R, had enhanced abilities to modulate the expression of MEF2C, which interacts with NKX2.5 and is involved in cardiac growth. The electrophoretic mobility shift assays result showed that two mutations altered DNA-binding abilities of mutant FOXH1 proteins. Phenotype heterogeneity was found in patients with the same mutation. These results indicate that FOXH1 mutations lead to disease-causing functional changes that contribute to the occurrence of CTD.