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Curation and bioinformatic analysis of strabismus genes supports functional heterogeneity and proposes candidate genes with connections to RASopathies
- Ye, Xin (Cynthia), van der Lee, Robin, Wasserman, Wyeth W.
- Gene 2019 v.697 pp. 213-226
- bioinformatics, cerebellum, gene ontology, genes, loci, retina, tumor suppressor proteins
- Strabismus refers to the misalignment of the eyes and occurs in 2–4% of individuals. The low-resolution label “strabismus” covers a range of heterogeneous defects, which makes it challenging to unravel this condition. Consequently a coherent understanding of the causes is lacking. Here, we attempt to gain a better understanding of the underlying genetics by combining gene curation, diverse bioinformatic analyses (including gene ontology, pathway mapping, expression and network-based methods) and literature review. Through a phenotype-based curation process, we identify high-confidence and permissive sets of 54 and 233 genes potentially involved in strabismus. These genes can be grouped into 10 modules that together span a heterogeneous set of biological and molecular functions, and can be linked to clinical sub-phenotypes. Multiple lines of evidence associate retina and cerebellum biology with the strabismus genes. We further highlight a potential role of the Ras-MAPK pathway. Independently, sets of 11 genes and 15 loci tied to strabismus with definitive genetic basis have been compiled from the literature. We identify strabismus candidate genes for 5 of the 15 reported loci (CHD7; SLC9A6; COL18A1, COL6A2; FRY, BRCA2, SPG20; PARK2). Finally, we synthesize a Strabismus Candidate Gene Collection, which together with our curated gene sets will serve as a resource for future research. The results of this informatics study support the heterogeneity and complexity of strabismus and point to specific biological pathways and brain regions for future focus.