Bardet‐Biedl Syndrome, an Oligogenic Disease


Bardet‐Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a rare multisystemic disorder characterized by defects in renal function, obesity, mental retardation, retinal degeneration and polydactyly. The disease is transmitted primarily in an autosomal recessive fashion but can also exhibit oligogenic inheritance. Twelve BBS genes have been identified to date. Based on localization and functional studies of their protein products, the underlying cause of the disease phenotype is defects in ciliary function which accounts for the pleiotropic nature of the disease. Though it is still unclear exactly how these genes function in cellular signalling pathways, evidence suggests that they are important in a number of fundamental pathways, including the Wnt signalling pathway.

Keywords: Bardet‐Biedl syndrome; cilium; basal body; oligogenic; Wnt

Figure 1.

Contribution of the 12 known BBS genes to Bardet‐Biedl syndrome. Representative graph of the percentage contribution of each known BBS gene to BBS cases. Families with three mutations in two BBS genes were assigned to the primary locus (the BBS locus with two mutant alleles). Modified from Katsanis, .

Figure 2.

Two pedigrees showing the autosomal recessive inheritance pattern of BBS. (a) Pedigree of a consanguineous family, in which the unaffected parents are both carriers of a nonsense mutation in BBS5. Three of the five children are homozygous for the mutant allele and, therefore, affected. Their heterozygous siblings are unaffected (adapted from Li et al., , reproduced by permission from Cell). (b) An autosomal recessive pedigree showing allelic heterogeneity. Two unaffected parents bear two different frameshift mutations in BBS10, respectively. The son bearing both mutant alleles in the same gene are affected (Stoetzel et al., ).

Figure 3.

Differences in penetrance. (a) Both siblings (asterisks) inherited two mutations in BBS2 from their unaffected parents. However, only one sibling is affected with the disease, challenging the autosomal recessive model. (b) The difference can be explained by the presence of a third mutant allele in BBS6. The sibling bearing a nonsense mutant allele of BBS6 is affected, whereas the sibling that is homozygous wildtype for BBS6 is unaffected, supporting a digenic and triallelic model of inheritance (adapted from Katsanis et al., , reproduced by permission from Science).

Figure 4.

Differences in expressivity. (a) In two siblings bearing the same BBS1 genotype, the phenotypes differ in severity. One sibling has only mild mental retardation, whereas the second suffers from severe mental retardation in addition to obesity, delayed speech development and other developmental abnormalities. (b) The difference can be explained by the presence of a third mutant allele in BBS6, consistent with a triallelic model. (c) Another family bearing BBS1 mutations had three affected siblings with the same BBS1 genotype. Two siblings developed early onset severe retinitis pigmentosa, whereas the third only developed a mild form of night blindness later in life. (d) Analysis of the BBS2 genotype explains the difference; the severely affected siblings both bear a third mutation in BBS2, whereas the more mildly affected sibling is wildtype (adapted from Badano et al., , reproduced by permission from Human Molecular Genetics; adapted from Katsanis, , reproduced by permission from Human Molecular Genetics).

Figure 5.

BBS4 in microtubule network organization. (a) BBS4 interacts with PCM1 and PCM1‐associated cargo to localize to the centriolar satellites. This function is most likely as a result of its interaction with the p150 subunit of dynactin. (b) If BBS4 function is absent or aberrant, PCM1 does not localize properly to the centriolar satellites, resulting in microtubule network disorganization. (c) A BBS4 dominant negative mutation results in binding of PCM1 and cargo, but inefficient loading of p150, resulting in mislocalization and microtubule disorganization defects (adapted from Kim et al., , reproduced by permission from Nature Genetics).



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Further Reading

Beales PL (2005) Lifting the lid on pandora's box: the Bardet‐Biedl syndrome. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 15: 315–323.

Blacque OE and Leroux MR (2006) Bardet‐Biedl syndrome: an emerging pathomechanism of intracellular transport. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 63: 2145–2161.

Katsanis N, Lupski JR and Beales PL (2001) Exploring the molecular basis of Bardet‐Biedl syndrome. Human Molecular Genetics 10: 2293–2299.

Marshall WF (2007) What is the function of centrioles? Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 100: 916–922.

Oti M and Brunner HG (2007) The modular nature of genetic diseases. Clinical Genetics 71: 1–11.

Pan J, Wang Q and Snell WJ (2005) Cilium‐generated signaling and cilia‐related disorders. Laboratory Investigation: A Journal of Technical Methods and Pathology 85: 452–463.

Singla V and Reiter JF (2006) The primary cilium as the cell's antenna: signaling at a sensory organelle. Science (New York) 313: 629–633.

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Liu, Yangfan, Zaghloul, Norann A, and Katsanis, Nicholas(Sep 2007) Bardet‐Biedl Syndrome, an Oligogenic Disease. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020227]