Mutations in the NHLRC1 gene are the common cause for Lafora disease in the Japanese population.

Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.
Journal of Human Genetics (Impact Factor: 2.53). 02/2005; 50(7):347-52. DOI: 10.1007/s10038-005-0263-7
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Lafora disease (LD) is a rare autosomal recessive genetic disorder characterized by epilepsy, myoclonus, and progressive neurological deterioration. LD is caused by mutations in the EMP2A gene encoding a protein phosphatase. A second gene for LD, termed NHLRC1 and encoding a putative E3 ubiquitin ligase, was recently identified on chromosome 6p22. The LD is relatively common in southern Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. A few sporadic cases with typical LD phenotype have been reported from Japan; however, our earlier study failed to find EPM2A mutations in four Japanese families with LD. We recruited four new families from Japan and searched for mutations in EPM2A . All eight families were also screened for NHLRC1 mutations. We found five independent families having novel mutations in NHLRC1. Identified mutations include five missense mutations (p.I153M, p.C160R, p.W219R, p.D245N, and p.R253K) and a deletion mutation (c.897insA; p.S299fs13). We also found a family with a ten base pair deletion (c.822-832del10) in the coding region of EPM2A. In two families, no EPM2A or NHLRC1 mutation was found. Our study, in addition to documenting the genetic and molecular heterogeneity observed for LD, suggests that mutations in the NHLRC1 gene may be a common cause of LD in the Japanese population.

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    ABSTRACT: Lafora's disease (LD) is a comparatively frequent and particularly severe type of progressive myoclonus epilepsy. Prevalence varies, LD is seen everywhere but is more common in geographic isolates and areas with high degree of inbreeding. Onset occurs during adolescence, with generalized tonic-clonic, clonic-tonic-clonic seizures, action and resting myoclonus, negative myoclonus, and focal occipital seizures with transient amaurosis. The course is marked by prominent cognitive deterioration, which can precede seizures and myoclonus, and by the progressive, relentless increase of seizures and myoclonus. Transmission is autosomal recessive. LD is genetically heterogeneous. Mutations/deletions of the EPM2A gene, localized in 1995 on 6q24, are found in 80p.cent (product: laforin), the less common EPM2B variant is on 6p22 (product: malin), but these two localizations do not account for all cases of LD. The diagnosis of LD may be suspected on the basis of the family history, age at onset, typical appearance of symptoms, rapid worsening of cognitive function, evaluation of fairly typical EEG aspects, and can easily be confirmed by axillar skin biopsy with proof of Lafora bodies (polyglucosan aggregates) in the sweat duct cells. Other biopsies, like brain biopsy, are generally not necessary. Genetic testing is useful for diagnosis but the genetic heterogeneity cannot rule out LD when none of the known mutations are detected. Genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis are theoretically possible when the genetic anomaly has been documented in an affected member of the family. The treatment of LD remains purely symptomatic. Drugs that may aggravate myoclonus must be avoided. Psychological and social management is of utmost importance in LD. Death occurs 4 to 10 years after onset in typical forms.
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