Hemimegalencephaly (HME) is a heterogeneous cortical malformation characterized by enlargement of one cerebral hemisphere. Somatic variants in mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulatory genes have been implicated in some HME cases; however, ~70% have no identified genetic etiology. Here, we screened two HME patients to identify disease-causing somatic variants. DNA from leukocytes, buccal swabs, and surgically resected brain tissue from two HME patients were screened for somatic variants using genome-wide genotyping arrays or sequencing of the protein-coding regions of the genome. Functional studies were performed to evaluate the molecular consequences of candidate disease-causing variants. Both HME patients evaluated were found to have likely disease-causing variants in DNA extracted from brain tissue but not in buccal swab or leukocyte DNA, consistent with a somatic mutational mechanism. In the first case, a previously identified disease-causing somatic single nucleotide in MTOR was identified. In the second case, we detected an overrepresentation of the alleles inherited from the mother on Chromosome 16 in brain tissue DNA only, indicative of somatic uniparental disomy (UPD) of the p-arm of Chromosome 16. Using methylation analyses, an imprinted locus on 16p spanning ZNF597 was identified, which results in increased expression of ZNF597 mRNA and protein in the brain tissue of the second case. Enhanced mTOR signaling was observed in tissue specimens from both patients. We speculate that overexpression of maternally expressed ZNF597 led to aberrant hemispheric development in the patient with somatic UPD of Chromosome 16p possibly through modulation of mTOR signaling.
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