Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Importin 8, encoded by IPO8, is a ubiquitously expressed member of the importin-β protein family that translocates cargo molecules such as proteins, RNAs, and ribonucleoprotein complexes into the nucleus in a RanGTP-dependent manner. Current knowledge of the cargoes of importin 8 is limited, but TGF-β signaling components such as SMAD1-4 have been suggested to be among them. Here, we report that bi-allelic loss-of-function variants in IPO8 cause a syndromic form of thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) with clinical overlap with Loeys-Dietz and Shprintzen-Goldberg syndromes. Seven individuals from six unrelated families showed a consistent phenotype with early-onset TAA, motor developmental delay, connective tissue findings, and craniofacial dysmorphic features. A C57BL/6N Ipo8 knockout mouse model recapitulates TAA development from 8-12 weeks onward in both sexes but most prominently shows ascending aorta dilatation with a propensity for dissection in males. Compliance assays suggest augmented passive stiffness of the ascending aorta in male Ipo8-/- mice throughout life. Immunohistological investigation of mutant aortic walls reveals elastic fiber disorganization and fragmentation along with a signature of increased TGF-β signaling, as evidenced by nuclear pSmad2 accumulation. RT-qPCR assays of the aortic wall in male Ipo8-/- mice demonstrate decreased Smad6/7 and increased Mmp2 and Ccn2 (Ctgf) expression, reinforcing a role for dysregulation of the TGF-β signaling pathway in TAA development. Because importin 8 is the most downstream TGF-β-related effector implicated in TAA pathogenesis so far, it offers opportunities for future mechanistic studies and represents a candidate drug target for TAA.

Original publication




Journal article


American journal of human genetics

Publication Date



Center of Medical Genetics, University of Antwerp and Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem 2650, Belgium.


Genomics England Research Consortium