Main content area

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.