The Spectrum of MORC2-Related Disorders: A Potential Link to Cockayne Syndrome

Seth A. Stafki, Johnnie Turner, Hannah R. Littel, Christine C. Bruels, Don Truong, Ursula Knirsch, Georg M. Stettner, Urs Graf, Wolfgang Berger, Maria Kinali, Heinz Jungbluth, Christina A. Pacak, Jayne Hughes, Amytice Mirchi, Alexa Derksen, Catherine Vincent-Delorme, Arjan F. Theil, Geneviève Bernard, David Ellis, Hiva FassihiAlan R. Lehmann, Vincent Laugel, Shehla Mohammed, Peter B. Kang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cockayne syndrome (CS) is a DNA repair disorder primarily associated with pathogenic variants in ERCC6 and ERCC8. As in other Mendelian disorders, there are a number of genetically unsolved CS cases. Methods: We ascertained five individuals with monoallelic pathogenic variants in MORC2, previously associated with three dominantly inherited phenotypes: an axonal form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2Z; a syndrome of developmental delay, impaired growth, dysmorphic facies, and axonal neuropathy; and a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy. Results: One of these individuals bore a strong phenotypic resemblance to CS. We then identified monoallelic pathogenic MORC2 variants in three of five genetically unsolved individuals with a clinical diagnosis of CS. In total, we identified eight individuals with MORC2-related disorder, four of whom had clinical features strongly suggestive of CS. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that some forms of MORC2-related disorder have phenotypic similarities to CS, including features of accelerated aging. Unlike classic DNA repair disorders, MORC2-related disorder does not appear to be associated with a defect in transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair and follows a dominant pattern of inheritance with variants typically arising de novo. Such de novo pathogenic variants present particular challenges with regard to both initial gene discovery and diagnostic evaluations. MORC2 should be included in diagnostic genetic test panels targeting the evaluation of microcephaly and/or suspected DNA repair disorders. Future studies of MORC2 and its protein product, coupled with further phenotypic characterization, will help to optimize the diagnosis, understanding, and therapy of the associated disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric neurology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Cockayne syndrome
  • DNA repair
  • Microcephaly
  • MORC2


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