Characterization of survival motor neuron (SMNT) gene deletions in asymptomatic carriers of spinal muscular atrophy.
ABSTRACT Previous reports have established that the telomeric copy of the survival motor neuron (SMNT) gene and the intact copy of the neuronal apoptosis inhibitory protein (NAIP) gene are preferentially deleted in patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Although deletions or mutations in the SMNT gene are most highly correlated with SMA, it is not clear to what extent NAIP or other genes influence the SMA phenotype, or whether a small fraction of SMA patients actually have functional copies of both SMNT and NAIP. To evaluate further the part of SMNT in the development of SMA, we analyzed 280 asymptomatic SMA family members for the presence or absence of SMNT exons 7 and 8. We report the following observations: (i) 4% of the sample harbored a polymorphic variant of SMNT exon 7 that looks like a homozygous deletion; (ii) approximately 1% of the parents are homozygously deleted for both exons 7 and 8; (iii) one asymptomatic parent lacking both copies of SMNT exons 7 and 8 displays a 'subclinical phenotype' characterized by mild neurogenic pathology; (iv) another asymptomatic parent lacking both SMNT exons showed no signs of motor neuron disorder by clinical and neurodiagnostic analyses. The demonstration of polymorphic variants of exon 7 that masquerade as homozygous nulls, and the identification of SMA parents who harbor two disease alleles, serve as a caution to those conducting prenatal tests with these markers.
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ABSTRACT: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA type I, II and III) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder caused by mutations in the survival motor neuron gene (SMN1). SMN2 is a centromeric copy gene that has been characterized as a major modifier of SMA severity. SMA type I patients have one or two SMN2 copies while most SMA type II patients carry three SMN2 copies and SMA III patients have three or four SMN2 copies. The SMN1 gene produces a full-length transcript (FL-SMN) while SMN2 is only able to produce a small portion of the FL-SMN because of a splice mutation which results in the production of abnormal SMNΔ7 mRNA. In this study we performed quantification of the SMN2 gene copy number in Russian patients affected by SMA type II and III (42 and 19 patients, respectively) by means of real-time PCR. Moreover, we present two families consisting of asymptomatic carriers of a homozygous absence of the SMN1 gene. We also developed a novel RT-qPCR-based assay to determine the FL-SMN/SMNΔ7 mRNA ratio as SMA biomarker. Comparison of the SMN2 copy number and clinical features revealed a significant correlation between mild clinical phenotype (SMA type III) and presence of four copies of the SMN2 gene. In both asymptomatic cases we found an increased number of SMN2 copies in the healthy carriers and a biallelic SMN1 absence. Furthermore, the novel assay revealed a difference between SMA patients and healthy controls. We suggest that the SMN2 gene copy quantification in SMA patients could be used as a prognostic tool for discrimination between the SMA type II and SMA type III diagnoses, whereas the FL-SMN/SMNΔ7 mRNA ratio could be a useful biomarker for detecting changes during SMA pharmacotherapy.BMC Medical Genetics 01/2011; 12:96. · 2.54 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder, leading to progressive muscle weakness, atrophy, and sometimes premature death. SMA is caused by mutation or deletion of the survival motor neuron-1 (SMN1) gene. An effective treatment does not presently exist. Since the severity of the SMA phenotype is inversely correlated with expression levels of SMN, the SMN-encoded protein, SMN is the most important therapeutic target for development of an effective treatment for SMA. In recent years, numerous SMN independent targets and therapeutic strategies have been demonstrated to have potential roles in SMA treatment. For example, some neurotrophic, antiapoptotic, and myotrophic factors are able to promote survival of motor neurons or improve muscle strength shown in SMA mouse models or clinical trials. Plastin-3, cpg15, and a Rho-kinase inhibitor regulate axonal dynamics and might reduce the influences of SMN depletion in disarrangement of neuromuscular junction. Stem cell transplantation in SMA model mice resulted in improvement of motor behaviors and extension of survival, likely from trophic support. Although most therapies are still under investigation, these nonclassical treatments might provide an adjunctive method for future SMA therapy.Neural Plasticity 01/2012; 2012:456478. · 2.86 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive (AR) neuromuscular disease that is one of the most common lethal genetic disorders in children, with carrier frequencies as high as ∼1 in 35 in US Whites. As part of our genetic studies in the Hutterites from South Dakota, we identified a large 22 Mb run of homozygosity, spanning the SMA locus in an affected child, of which 10 Mb was also homozygous in three affected Hutterites from Montana, supporting a single founder origin for the mutation. We developed a haplotype-based method for identifying carriers of the SMN1 deletion that leveraged existing genome-wide SNP genotype data for ∼1400 Hutterites. In combination with two direct PCR-based assays, we identified 176 carriers of the SMN1 deletion, one asymptomatic homozygous adult and three carriers of a de novo deletion. This corresponds to a carrier frequency of one in eight (12.5%) in the South Dakota Hutterites, representing the highest carrier frequency reported to date for SMA and for an AR disease in the Hutterite population. Lastly, we show that 26 SNPs can be used to predict SMA carrier status in the Hutterites, with 99.86% specificity and 99.71% sensitivity.European journal of human genetics: EJHG 05/2011; 19(10):1045-51. · 3.56 Impact Factor