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Molecular and phenotypic characteristics of Bardet-Biedl syndrome in Chinese patients.

BACKGROUND: Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a type of non-motile ciliopathy. To date, 26 genes have been reported to be associated with BBS. However, BBS is genetically heterogeneous, with significant clinical overlap with other ciliopathies, which complicates diagnosis. Disability and mortality rates are high in BBS patients; therefore, it is urgent to improve our understanding of BBS. Thus, our study aimed to describe the genotypic and phenotypic spectra of BBS in China and to elucidate genotype-phenotype correlations.

METHODS: Twenty Chinese patients diagnosed with BBS were enrolled in this study. We compared the phenotypes of Chinese BBS patients in this study with those from other countries to analyze the phenotypic differences across patients worldwide. In addition, genotype-phenotype correlations were described for our cohort. We also summarized all previously reported cases of BBS in Chinese patients (71 patients) and identified common and specific genetic variants in the Chinese population.

RESULTS: Twenty-eight variants, of which 10 are novel, in 5 different BBS-associated genes were identified in 20 Chinese BBS patients. By comparing the phenotypes of BBSome-coding genes (BBS2,7,9) with those of chaperonin-coding genes (BBS10,12), we found that patients with mutations in BBS10 and 12 had an earlier age of onset (1.10 Vs. 2.20, p < 0.01) and diagnosis (4.64 Vs. 13.17, p < 0.01), whereas patients with mutations in BBS2, 7, and 9 had a higher body mass index (28.35 Vs. 24.21, p < 0.05) and more vision problems (p < 0.05). Furthermore, in 91 Chinese BBS patients, mutations were predominant in BBS2 (28.89%) and BBS7 (15.56%), and the most frequent variants were in BBS2: c.534 + 1G > T (10/182 alleles) and BBS7: c.1002delT (7/182 alleles), marking a difference from the genotypic spectra of BBS reported abroad.

CONCLUSIONS: We recruited 20 Chinese patients with BBS for genetic and phenotypic analyses, and identified common clinical manifestations, pathogenic genes, and variants. We also described the phenotypic differences across patients worldwide and among different BBS-associated genes. This study involved the largest cohort of Chinese patients with BBS, and provides new insights into the distinctive clinical features of specific pathogenic variants.

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