Recessive, Deleterious Variants in SMG8 Expand the Role of Nonsense-Mediated Decay in Developmental Disorders in Humans

Fatema Alzahrani, Hiroyuki Kuwahara, Yongkang Long, Mohammed Al-Owain, Mohamed Tohary, Moeenaldeen AlSayed, Mohammed Mahnashi, Lana Fathi, Maha Alnemer, Mohamed H. Al-Hamed, Gabrielle Lemire, Kym M. Boycott, Mais Hashem, Wenkai Han, Almundher Al-Maawali, Feisal Al Mahrizi, Khalid Al-Thihli, Xin Gao*, Fowzan S. Alkuraya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We have previously described a heart-, eye-, and brain-malformation syndrome caused by homozygous loss-of-function variants in SMG9, which encodes a critical component of the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) machinery. Here, we describe four consanguineous families with four different likely deleterious homozygous variants in SMG8, encoding a binding partner of SMG9. The observed phenotype greatly resembles that linked to SMG9 and comprises severe global developmental delay, microcephaly, facial dysmorphism, and variable congenital heart and eye malformations. RNA-seq analysis revealed a general increase in mRNA expression levels with significant overrepresentation of core NMD substrates. We also identified increased phosphorylation of UPF1, a key SMG1-dependent step in NMD, which most likely represents the loss of SMG8–mediated inhibition of SMG1 kinase activity. Our data show that SMG8 and SMG9 deficiency results in overlapping developmental disorders that most likely converge mechanistically on impaired NMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1185
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 3 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • cataract
  • congenital heart disease
  • intellectual disability
  • microcephaly
  • NMD
  • RNA-seq
  • SMG1C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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