Steric clash in the SET domain of histone methyltransferase NSD1 as a cause of sotos syndrome and its genetic heterogeneity in a Brazilian cohort

Kyungsoo Ha, Priya Anand, Jennifer A. Lee, Julie R. Jones, Chong Ae Kim, Debora Romeo Bertola, Jonathan D.J. Labonne, Lawrence C. Layman, Wolfgang Wenzel, Hyung Goo Kim

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Most histone methyltransferases (HMTase) harbor a predicted Su(var)3-9, Enhancer-of-zeste, Trithorax (SET) domain, which transfers a methyl group to a lysine residue in their substrates. Mutations of the SET domains were reported to cause intellectual disability syndromes such as Sotos, Weaver, or Kabuki syndromes. Sotos syndrome is an overgrowth syndrome with intellectual disability caused by haploinsufficiency of the nuclear receptor binding SET domain protein 1 (NSD1) gene, an HMTase at 5q35.2-35.3. Here, we analyzed NSD1 in 34 Brazilian Sotos patients and identified three novel and eight known mutations. Using protein modeling and bioinformatic approaches, we evaluated the effects of one novel (I2007F) and 21 previously reported missense mutations in the SET domain. For the I2007F mutation, we observed conformational change and loss of structural stability in Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations which may lead to loss-of-function of the SET domain. For six mutations near the ligand-binding site we observed in simulations steric clashes with neighboring side chains near the substrate S-Adenosyl methionine (SAM) binding site, which may disrupt the enzymatic activity of NSD1. These results point to a structural mechanism underlying the pathology of the NSD1 missense mutations in the SET domain in Sotos syndrome. NSD1 mutations were identified in only 32% of the Brazilian Sotos patients in our study cohort suggesting other genes (including unknown disease genes) underlie the molecular etiology for the majority of these patients. Our studies also found NSD1 expression to be profound in human fetal brain and cerebellum, accounting for prenatal onset and hypoplasia of cerebellar vermis seen in Sotos syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016



  • Histone methyltransferase
  • Intellectual disability
  • NSD1
  • SET domain
  • Sotos syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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