CCM1 Common Hispanic Mutation

In the late 1500s, Spanish settlers came to Mexico and to New Mexico following the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. The genealogy is complex but it is clear that the descendants of one of those settlers have a very specific genetic mutation on the CCM1 gene that causes the formation of cavernous malformations. This mutation does not skip generations and each child of an affected person has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the illness.

We believe there are tens of thousands of individuals related to the original founder now living with what we call the Common Hispanic Mutation. Most are likely undiagnosed.  A gene can mutate in hundreds or thousands of ways. From a biological standpoint, we know that this group shares a common ancestor because they each have an identical mutation of the CCM1 gene. This cannot happen among such a large group without there being a relationship. This scientific finding spurred many years of genealogical exploration.

Based on our genealogical research, we believe the family line of Cristóbal Baca II and Ana Morena de Lara or Juan Bartolome “Tome” Dominguez and Elena (de la Cruz) de Mendoza contains the original founder. These families intermarried early in the Spanish settlement, and we can trace most families who carry this mutation to these original couples.

Because of geography, the original families of New Mexico tended to stay in the area, and we have found more families affected by CCM in northern New Mexico, southern Colorado, El Paso, and the Chihuahua state in Mexico than anywhere else in the world. We also are finding more and more families in California and the greater Southwest.

Symptoms of the illness are widely variable, and it wasn’t until 1995 that the shared mutation in this population was identified. You can read the original research paper here.

Since then, the University of New Mexico has been the center of research to understand the features of the illness in this group. Publications from patients studied at UNM include:

Familial versus Sporadic Cavernous Malformations: Differences in Developmental Venous Anomaly Association and Lesion Phenotype (2010)

Association of Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Disease Severity in CCM1-type Individuals with the Common Hispanic Mutation (2014)

Polymorphisms in inflammatory and immune response genes associated with CCM1 severity (2014)

Increased Number of White Matter Lesions in Patients with Familial Cerebral Cavernous Malformations (2015)

Cytochrome P450 and matrix metalloproteinase genetic modifiers of disease severity in CCM1 (2016)

Automated algorithm for counting microbleeds in patients with familial cerebral cavernous malformations (2017)

Familial Cerebral Cavernous Malformations Are Associated with Adrenal Calcifications on CT Scans: An Imaging Biomarker for a Hereditary Cerebrovascular Condition (2017)

Alliance to Cure Cavernous Malformation, the University of New Mexico, the University of California San Francisco, and the Barrow Neurological Institute are partners in a 15-year consortium project that is looking at the genetics of individuals with the illness to see if there are factors that could account for differences in severity of the illness even within the same family. The progress from the first five years of this Brain Vascular Malformations Consortium is documented here. Many of the research articles above were written as part of this project.

In 2016, Alliance to Cure Cavernous Malformation awarded a microgrant to the University of New Mexico to perform a study to help us better understand attitudes toward genetic testing in those at risk of carrying the Common Hispanic Mutation. Christine Petranovich, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, worked to document patients’ experiences of genetic testing and to suggest comprehensive ways the experience can be improved, tailored to each individual’s circumstances and personality. The results were published in 2020 in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science.

In 2017, Alliance to Cure Cavernous Malformation began the Baca Family Historical Project to find and connect descendants of Cristóbal Baca II and Ana Morena de Lara. Our mission is to foster a community for better health outcomes. Through our work, the genealogy of the Common Hispanic Mutation is becoming clearer. Joyce Gonzales, our staff genealogist has written a summary of what is known in A Tale of Three Cristobal’s.

We offer information about genetic testing for the Common Hispanic Mutation through Ancestry DNA and Promethease.



Last updated 6.13.20  Reviewed 4.17.22