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A somatic missense mutation in GNAQ causes capillary malformation

Colette Bichsel, Joyce Bischoff
Current Opinion in Hematology 2019, 26 (3): 179-184

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Capillary malformations, the most common type of vascular malformation, are caused by a somatic mosaic mutation in GNAQ, which encodes the Gαq subunit of heterotrimeric G-proteins. How the single amino acid change - predicted to activate Gαq - causes capillary malformations is not known but recent advances are helping to unravel the mechanisms.

RECENT FINDINGS: The GNAQ R183Q mutation is present not only in endothelial cells isolated from skin and brain capillary malformations but also in brain tissue underlying the capillary malformation, raising questions about the origin of capillary malformation-causing cells. Insights from computational analyses shed light on the mechanisms of constitutive activation and new basic science shows Gαq plays roles in sensing shear stress and in regulating cerebral blood flow.

SUMMARY: Several studies confirm the GNAQ R183Q mutation in 90% of nonsyndromic and Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS) capillary malformations. The mutation is enriched in endothelial cells and blood vessels isolated from skin, brain, and choroidal capillary malformations, but whether the mutation resides in other cell types must be determined. Further, the mechanisms by which the R183Q mutation alters microvascular architecture and blood flow must be uncovered to develop new treatment strategies for SWS in particular, a devastating disease for which there is no cure.

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