Genet Med. 2021 Jun 25. doi: 10.1038/s41436-021-01239-1. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Pathogenic variants in Lysyl-tRNA synthetase 1 (KARS1) have increasingly been recognized as a cause of early-onset complex neurological phenotypes. To advance the timely diagnosis of KARS1-related disorders, we sought to delineate its phenotype and generate a disease model to understand its function in vivo.
METHODS: Through international collaboration, we identified 22 affected individuals from 16 unrelated families harboring biallelic likely pathogenic or pathogenic in KARS1 variants. Sequencing approaches ranged from disease-specific panels to genome sequencing. We generated loss-of-function alleles in zebrafish.
RESULTS: We identify ten new and four known biallelic missense variants in KARS1 presenting with a moderate-to-severe developmental delay, progressive neurological and neurosensory abnormalities, and variable white matter involvement. We describe novel KARS1-associated signs such as autism, hyperactive behavior, pontine hypoplasia, and cerebellar atrophy with prevalent vermian involvement. Loss of kars1 leads to upregulation of p53, tissue-specific apoptosis, and downregulation of neurodevelopmental related genes, recapitulating key tissue-specific disease phenotypes of patients. Inhibition of p53 rescued several defects of kars1-/- knockouts.
CONCLUSION: Our work delineates the clinical spectrum associated with KARS1 defects and provides a novel animal model for KARS1-related human diseases revealing p53 signaling components as potential therapeutic targets.