In vivo severity ranking of Ras pathway mutations associated with developmental disorders

Granton A. Jindal, Yogesh Goyal, Keia Yamay, Alan S. Futran, Iason Kountouridis, Courtney A. Balgobin, Trudi Schüpbach, Rebecca D.C. Burdine, Stanislav Y. Shvartsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Germ-line mutations in components of the Ras/MAPK pathway result in developmental disorders called RASopathies, affecting about 1/1,000 human births. Rapid advances in genome sequencing make it possible to identify multiple disease-related mutations, but there is currently no systematic framework for translating this information into patient-specific predictions of disease progression. As a first step toward addressing this issue, we developed a quantitative, inexpensive, and rapid framework that relies on the early zebrafish embryo to assess mutational effects on a common scale. Using this assay, we assessed 16 mutations reported inMEK1, aMAPK kinase, and provide a robust ranking of these mutations. We find that mutations found in cancer are more severe than those found in both RASopathies and cancer, which, in turn, are generally more severe than those found only in RASopathies. Moreover, this rank is conserved in other zebrafish embryonic assays and Drosophila-specific embryonic and adult assays, suggesting that our ranking reflects the intrinsic property of the mutant molecule. Furthermore, this rank is predictive of the drug dose needed to correct the defects. This assay can be readily used to test the strengths of existing and newly found mutations in MEK1 and other pathway components, providing the first step in the development of rational guidelines for patient-specific diagnostics and treatment of RASopathies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-515
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 17 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Drosophila
  • MEK inhibitor
  • MEK1
  • RASopathies
  • Zebrafish


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