Band-like calcification with simplified gyration and polymicrogyria (BLC-PMG) is a rare autosomal-recessive neurological disorder showing highly characteristic clinical and neuroradiological features. Affected individuals demonstrate early-onset seizures, severe microcephaly, and developmental arrest with bilateral, symmetrical polymicrogyria (PMG) and a band of gray matter calcification on brain imaging; as such, the disorder can be considered as a "pseudo-TORCH" syndrome. By using autozygosity mapping and copy number analysis we identified intragenic deletions and mutations in OCLN in nine patients from six families with BLC-PMG. The OCLN gene encodes occludin, an integral component of tight junctions. Neuropathological analysis of an affected individual showed similarity to the mouse model of occludin deficiency with calcification predominantly associated with blood vessels. Both intracranial calcification and PMG are heterogeneous in etiology. Neuropathological and clinical studies of PMG have suggested that in utero ischemic or vascular insults may contribute to this common cortical abnormality. Tight junctions are functional in cerebral blood vessels early in fetal development and continue to play a vital role in maintenance of the blood-brain barrier during postnatal life. We provide evidence that the tight junction protein occludin (encoded by the OCLN gene) is involved in the pathogenesis of malformations of cortical development.
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We sincerely thank the families for their involvement in this work. Y.J.C. acknowledges the Manchester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and the Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre. M.C.O'D. is funded by the Manchester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and the Wellcome Trust. We are grateful to Dr. E. Hellen in the Manchester National Genetics Reference Laboratory at the University of Manchester and Dr. Diana Baralle at the University of Southampton for their assistance with mutation analysis.