Isoform-specific loss of dystonin causes hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy

Objective

To determine the genetic cause of axonal Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease in a small family with 2 affected siblings, one of whom had cerebellar features on examination.

Methods

Whole-exome sequencing of genomic DNA and analysis for recessively inherited mutations; PCR-based messenger RNA/complementary DNA analysis of transcripts to characterize the effects of variants identified by exome sequencing.

Results

We identified compound heterozygous mutations in dystonin (DST), which is alternatively spliced to create many plakin family linker proteins (named the bullous pemphigoid antigen 1 [BPAG1] proteins) that function to bridge cytoskeletal filament networks. One mutation (c.250C>T) is predicted to cause a nonsense mutation (p.R84X) that only affects isoform 2 variants, which have an N-terminal transmembrane domain; the other (c.8283+1G>A) mutates a consensus splice donor site and results in a 22 amino acid in-frame deletion in the spectrin repeat domain of all BPAG1a and BPAG1b isoforms.

Conclusions

These findings introduce a novel human phenotype, axonal Charcot-Marie-Tooth, of recessive DST mutations, and provide further evidence that BPAG1 plays an essential role in axonal health.

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