Mouse and human studies support DSTYK loss of function as a low-penetrance and variable expressivity risk factor for congenital urinary tract anomalies.

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Purpose: Previous work identified rare variants in DSTYK associated with human congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT). Here, we present a series of mouse and human studies to clarify the association, penetrance, and expressivity of DSTYK variants. Methods: We phenotypically characterized Dstyk knockout mice of 3 separate inbred backgrounds and re-analyzed the original family segregating the DSTYK c.654+1G>A splice-site variant (referred to as “SSV” below). DSTYK loss of function (LOF) and SSVs were annotated in individuals with CAKUT, epilepsy, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis vs controls. A phenome-wide association study analysis was also performed using United Kingdom Biobank (UKBB) data. Results: Results demonstrate ∼20% to 25% penetrance of obstructive uropathy, at least, in C57BL/6J and FVB/NJ Dstyk–/– mice. Phenotypic penetrance increased to ∼40% in C3H/HeJ mutants, with mild-to-moderate severity. Re-analysis of the original family segregating the rare SSV showed low penetrance (43.8%) and no alternative genetic causes for CAKUT. LOF DSTYK variants burden showed significant excess for CAKUT and epilepsy vs controls and an exploratory phenome-wide association study supported association with neurological disorders. Conclusion: These data support causality for DSTYK LOF variants and highlights the need for large-scale sequencing studies (here >200,000 cases) to accurately assess causality for genes and variants to lowly penetrant traits with common population prevalence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100983
JournalGenetics in medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 25 Dec 2023


  • Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract
  • Congenital obstructive uropathy
  • Developmental kidney disease
  • Mouse models of kidney disease

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