ABSTRACT: Frameshift mutations in the last coding exon of the 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS) 2 gene were described to activate the enzyme and causing increased levels of zinc- and metal-free protoporphyrin in patients with X-linked dominant protoporphyria (XLDPP). Only two such so-called gain-of-function mutations have been reported since the description of XLDPP in 2008. In this study of four newly identified XLDPP families, we identified two novel ALAS2 gene mutations, a nonsense p.Q548X and a frameshift c.1651-1677del26 bp, along with a known mutation (delAGTG) found in two unrelated families. Of relevance, a de novo somatic and germinal mosaicism was present in a delAGTG family. Such a phenomenon may explain the high proportion of this mutation in XLDPP world-wide. Enhancements of over 3- and 14-fold in the catalytic rate and specificity constant of purified recombinant XLDPP variants in relation to those of wild type ALAS2 confirmed the gain-of-function ascribed to these enzymes. The fact that both p.Q548X and c.1651-1677del26 bp are located in close proximity and upstream from the two previously described mutations led us to propose the presence of a large gain-of-function domain within the C-terminus of ALAS2. To test this hypothesis, we generated four additional nonsense mutants (p.A539X, p.G544X, p.G576X and p.V583X) surrounding the human XLDPP mutations and defined an ALAS2 gain-of-function domain with a minimal size of 33 amino acids. The identification of this gain-of-function domain provides important information on the enzymatic activity of ALAS2, which was proposed to be constitutively inhibited, either directly or indirectly, through its own C-terminus.
Human Molecular Genetics 12/2012; · 7.64 Impact Factor