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OBJECTIVE: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex neurological disease. Genetic linkage analysis and genotyping of candidate genes in families with 4 or more affected individuals more heavily loaded for susceptibility genes has not fully explained familial disease clustering. METHODS: We performed whole exome sequencing to further understand the heightened prevalence of MS in these families. RESULTS: Forty-three individuals with MS (1 from each family) were sequenced to find rare variants in candidate MS susceptibility genes. On average, >58,000 variants were identified in each individual. A rare variant in the CYP27B1 gene causing complete loss of gene function was identified in 1 individual. Homozygosity for this mutation results in vitamin D-dependent rickets I (VDDR1), whereas heterozygosity results in lower calcitriol levels. This variant showed significant heterozygous association in 3,046 parent-affected child trios (p = 1 × 10(-5)). Further genotyping in >12,500 individuals showed that other rare loss of function CYP27B1 variants also conferred significant risk of MS, Peto odds ratio = 4.7 (95% confidence interval, 2.3-9.4; p = 5 × 10(-7)). Four known VDDR1 mutations were identified, all overtransmitted. Heterozygous parents transmitted these alleles to MS offspring 35 of 35× (p = 3 × 10(-9)). INTERPRETATION: A causative role for CYP27B1 in MS is supported; the mutations identified are known to alter function having been shown in vivo to result in rickets when 2 copies are present. CYP27B1 encodes the vitamin D-activating 1-alpha hydroxylase enzyme, and thus a role for vitamin D in MS pathogenesis is strongly implicated.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Neurol

Publication Date





881 - 886


25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 1-alpha-Hydroxylase, Age of Onset, Cohort Studies, Exome, Family Health, Female, Gene Frequency, Genetic Association Studies, Genetic Linkage, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genotype, Humans, Male, Multiple Sclerosis, Mutation, Vitamin D Deficiency