ExcerptMuscle-eye-brain disease (MEB) and Walker Warburg Syndrome (WWS) belong to a spectrum of autosomal recessive diseases characterized by ocular dysgenesis, neuronal migration defects, and congenital muscular dystrophy. Until now, the pathophysiology of MEB/WWS has been attributed to alteration in dystroglycan post-translational modification. Here, we provide evidence that mutations in a gene coding for a major basement membrane protein, collagen IV alpha 1 (COL4A1), are a novel cause of MEB/WWS. Using a combination of histological, molecular, and biochemical approaches, we show that heterozygous Col4a1 mutant mice have ocular dysgenesis, neuronal localization defects, and myopathy characteristic of MEB/WWS. Importantly, we identified putative heterozygous mutations in COL4A1 in two MEB/WWS patients. Both mutations occur within conserved amino acids of the triple-helix-forming domain of the protein, and at least one mutation interferes with secretion of the mutant proteins, resulting instead in intracellular accumulation. Expression and posttranslational modification of dystroglycan is unaltered in Col4a1 mutant mice indicating that COL4A1 mutations represent a distinct pathogenic mechanism underlying MEB/WWS. These findings implicate a novel gene and a novel mechanism in the etiology of MEB/WWS and expand the clinical spectrum of COL4A1-associated disorders.
File Download: 2011 Labelle-Dumais
Publish Date: 19 May 2011