Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is characterized by cardiac enlargement and impaired ventricular contractility leading to heart failure. A single report identified variants in leiomodin-2 (LMOD2) as a cause of neonatally-lethal DCM. Here, we describe two siblings with DCM who died shortly after birth due to heart failure. Exome sequencing identified a homozygous LMOD2 variant in both siblings, (GRCh38)chr7:g.123656237G > A; NM_207163.2:c.273 + 1G > A, ablating the donor 5′ splice-site of intron-1. Pre-mRNA splicing studies and western blot analysis on cDNA derived from proband cardiac tissue, MyoD-transduced proband skin fibroblasts and HEK293 cells transfected with LMOD2 gene constructs established variant-associated absence of canonically spliced LMOD2 mRNA and full-length LMOD2 protein. Immunostaining of proband heart tissue unveiled abnormally short actin-thin filaments. Our data are consistent with LMOD2 c.273 + 1G > A abolishing/reducing LMOD2 transcript expression by: (1) variant-associated perturbation in initiation of transcription due to ablation of the intron-1 donor; and/or (2) degradation of aberrant LMOD2 transcripts (resulting from use of alternative transcription start-sites or cryptic splice-sites) by nonsense-mediated decay. LMOD2 expression is critical for life and the absence of LMOD2 is associated with thin filament shortening and severe cardiac contractile dysfunction. This study describes the first splice-site variant in LMOD2 and confirms the role of LMOD2 variants in DCM.
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