Age-dependent germline mosaicism of the most common noonan syndrome mutation shows the signature of germline selection

Song Ro Yoon, Soo Kung Choi, Jordan Eboreime, Bruce D. Gelb, Peter Calabrese, Norman Arnheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Noonan syndrome (NS) is among the most common Mendelian genetic diseases (∼1/2,000 live births). Most cases (50%-84%) are sporadic, and new mutations are virtually always paternally derived. More than 47 different sites of NS de novo missense mutations are known in the PTPN11 gene that codes for the protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP-2. Surprisingly, many of these mutations are recurrent with nucleotide substitution rates substantially greater than the genome average; the most common mutation, c.922A>G, is at least 2,400 times greater. We examined the spatial distribution of the c.922A>G mutation in testes from 15 unaffected men and found that the mutations were not uniformly distributed across each testis as would be expected for a mutation hot spot but were highly clustered and showed an age-dependent germline mosaicism. Computational modeling that used different stem cell division schemes confirmed that the data were inconsistent with hypermutation, but consistent with germline selection: mutated spermatogonial stem cells gained an advantage that allowed them to increase in frequency. SHP-2 interacts with the transcriptional activator STAT3. Given STAT3's function in mouse spermatogonial stem cells, we suggest that this interaction might explain the mutant's selective advantage by means of repression of stem cell differentiation signals. Repression of STAT3 activity by cyclin D1 might also play a previously unrecognized role in providing a germline-selective advantage to spermatogonia for the recurrent mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinases that cause Apert syndrome and MEN2B. Looking at recurrent mutations driven by germline selection in different gene families can help highlight common causal signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-926
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 6 Jun 2013


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