Manifesting carriers of X-linked myotubular myopathy: Genetic modifiers modulating the phenotype

Objective

To analyze the modulation of the phenotype in manifesting carriers of recessive X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM), searching for possible genetic modifiers.

Methods

Twelve Brazilian families with XLMTM were molecularly and clinically evaluated. In 2 families, 4 of 6 and 2 of 5 manifesting female carriers were identified. These females were studied for X chromosome inactivation. In addition, whole-exome sequencing was performed, looking for possible modifier variants. We also determined the penetrance rate among carriers of the mutations responsible for the condition.

Results

Mutations in the MTM1 gene were identified in all index patients from the 12 families, being 4 of them novel. In the heterozygotes, X chromosome inactivation was random in 3 of 4 informative manifesting carriers. The disease penetrance rate was estimated to be 30%, compatible with incomplete penetrance. Exome comparative analyses identified variants within a segment of 4.2 Mb on chromosome 19, containing the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor cluster of genes that were present in all nonmanifesting carriers and absent in all manifesting carriers. We hypothesized that these killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor variants may modulate the phenotype, acting as a protective factor in the nonmanifesting carriers.

Conclusions

Affected XLMTM female carriers have been described with a surprisingly high frequency for a recessive X-linked disease, raising the question about the pattern of inheritance or the role of modifier factors acting on the disease phenotype. We demonstrated the possible existence of genetic mechanisms and variants accountable for the clinical manifestation in these women, which can become future targets for therapies.

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