Contributions of Function-Altering Variants in Genes Implicated in Pubertal Timing and Body Mass for Self-Limited Delayed Puberty.

05 Feb 2018

Context: Self-limited delayed puberty (DP) is often associated with a delay in physical maturation, but although highly heritable the causal genetic factors remain elusive. Genome-wide association studies of the timing of puberty have identified multiple loci for age at menarche in females and voice break in males, particularly in pathways controlling energy balance. Objective/Main Outcome Measures: We sought to assess the contribution of rare variants in such genes to the phenotype of familial DP. Design/Patients: We performed whole-exome sequencing in 67 pedigrees (125 individuals with DP and 35 unaffected controls) from our unique cohort of familial self-limited DP. Using a whole-exome sequencing filtering pipeline one candidate gene [fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO)] was identified. In silico, in vitro, and mouse model studies were performed to investigate the pathogenicity of FTO variants and timing of puberty in FTO+/- mice. Results: We identified potentially pathogenic, rare variants in genes in linkage disequilibrium with genome-wide association studies of age at menarche loci in 283 genes. Of these, five genes were implicated in the control of body mass. After filtering for segregation with trait, one candidate, FTO, was retained. Two FTO variants, found in 14 affected individuals from three families, were also associated with leanness in these patients with DP. One variant (p.Leu44Val) demonstrated altered demethylation activity of the mutant protein in vitro. Fto+/- mice displayed a significantly delayed timing of pubertal onset (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Mutations in genes implicated in body mass and timing of puberty in the general population may contribute to the pathogenesis of self-limited DP.