The EMC1 gene, located on 1p36.13, encodes the subunit 1 of the endoplasmic reticulum-membrane protein complex, a highly conserved and ubiquitous multiprotein transmembrane complex. Pathogenic monoallelic and biallelic variants in EMC1 in humans have been reported only in six families, causing isolated visual impairment or in association with psychomotor retardation and cerebellar atrophy. We report a ten-year-old boy, born to unrelated parents, with early-onset severe global development delay due to novel EMC1 biallelic pathogenic variants. A truncating variant, p.(Tyr378*) and a missense variant, p.(Phe953Ser), located in exon 11 and 23 of EMC1 gene respectively, have been found by reanalysis of exome sequencing data. The proband’s phenotype included several signs that overlap with the phenotype of previously reported patients, associating severe global developmental delay, abnormal ophthalmological examination, and postnatal slow-down of the head circumference growth. Some distinguishing clinical signs were observed in comparison to patients from literature, such as autism spectrum disorder, absence of seizures, scoliosis or facial dysmorphic features, thus extending the spectrum of EMC1-related phenotypes. Similarly, brain MRI, performed at 2 years, showed normal cerebellar volume and structure, whereas cerebellar atrophy was described in literature. Moreover, difficulties of clinical differential diagnosis between EMC1-associated disease and other etiologies of global development delay support the importance of large-scale genetic investigations. Our diagnostic approach, through reanalysis of exome sequencing data, highlights the importance of reconsidering initial negative results for patients with a strong suspicion of genetic disease, and to update analytic pipelines in order to improve the diagnostic yield of exome sequencing.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.