[It seems that 2015 was a good year for this disorder.]
Damseh N, Simonin A, Jalas C, Picoraro JA, Shaag A, Cho MT, Yaacov B, Neidich J, Al-Ashhab M, Juusola J, Bale S, Telegrafi A, Retterer K, Pappas JG, Moran E, Cappell J, Anyane Yeboa K, Abu-Libdeh B, Hediger MA, Chung WK, Elpeleg O, Edvardson S. Mutations in SLC1A4, encoding the brain serine transporter, are associated with developmental delay, microcephaly and hypomyelination. J Med Genet. 2015 Aug;52(8):541-7.
L-serine plays an essential role in neuronal development and function. Although a non-essential amino acid, L-serine must be synthesised within the brain because of its poor permeability by the blood-brain barrier. Within the brain, its synthesis is confined to astrocytes, and its shuttle to neuronal cells is performed by a dedicated neutral amino acid transporter, ASCT1.
METHODS AND RESULTS:
Using exome analysis we identified the recessive mutations, p.E256K, p.L315fs, and p.R457W, in SLC1A4, the gene encoding ASCT1, in patients with developmental delay, microcephaly and hypomyelination; seizure disorder was variably present. When expressed in a heterologous system, the mutations did not affect the protein level at the plasma membrane but abolished or markedly reduced L-serine transport for p.R457W and p.E256K mutations, respectively. Interestingly, p.E256K mutation displayed a lower L-serine and alanine affinity but the same substrate selectivity as wild-type ASCT1.
The clinical phenotype of ASCT1 deficiency is reminiscent of defects in L-serine biosynthesis. The data underscore that ASCT1 is essential in brain serine transport. The SLC1A4 p.E256K mutation has a carrier frequency of 0.7% in the Ashkenazi-Jewish population and should be added to the carrier screening panel in this community.
Heimer G, Marek-Yagel D, Eyal E, Barel O, Oz Levi D, Hoffmann C, Ruzzo EK, Ganelin-Cohen E, Lancet D, Pras E, Rechavi G, Nissenkorn A, Anikster Y, Goldstein DB, Ben Zeev B. SLC1A4 mutations cause a novel disorder of intellectual disability, progressive microcephaly, spasticity and thin corpus callosum. Clin Genet. 2015 Oct;88(4):327-35.
Two unrelated patients, presenting with significant global developmental delay, severe progressive microcephaly, seizures, spasticity and thin corpus callosum (CC) underwent trio whole-exome sequencing. No candidate variant was found in any known genes related to the phenotype. However, crossing the data of the patients illustrated that they both manifested pathogenic variants in the SLC1A4 gene which codes the ASCT1 transporter of serine and other neutral amino acids. The Ashkenazi patient is homozygous for a deleterious missense c.766G>A, p.(E256K) mutation whereas the Ashkenazi-Iraqi patient is compound heterozygous for this mutation and a nonsense c.945delTT, p.(Leu315Hisfs*42) mutation. Structural prediction demonstrates truncation of significant portion of the protein by the nonsense mutation and speculates functional disruption by the missense mutation. Both mutations are extremely rare in general population databases, however, the missense mutation was found in heterozygous mode in 1:100 Jewish Ashkenazi controls suggesting a higher carrier rate among Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that SLC1A4 is the disease causing gene of a novel neurologic disorder manifesting with significant intellectual disability, severe postnatal microcephaly, spasticity and thin CC. The role of SLC1A4 in the serine transport from astrocytes to neurons suggests a possible pathomechanism for this disease and implies a potential therapeutic approach.
Srour M, Hamdan FF, Gan-Or Z, Labuda D, Nassif C, Oskoui M, Gana-Weisz M, Orr-Urtreger A, Rouleau GA, Michaud JL. A homozygous mutation in SLC1A4 in siblings with severe intellectual disability and microcephaly. Clin Genet. 2015 Jul;88(1):e1-4.
We performed exome analysis in two affected siblings with severe intellectual disability (ID), microcephaly and spasticity from an Ashkenazi Jewish consanguineous family. We identified only one rare variant, a missense in SLC1A4 (c. 766G>A [p. E256K]), that is homozygous in both siblings but not in any of their 11 unaffected siblings or their parents (Logarithm of odds, LOD score: 2.6). This variant is predicted damaging. We genotyped 450 controls of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and identified only 5 individuals who are heterozygous for this variant (minor allele frequency: 0.0056). SLC1A4 (ASCT1) encodes a transporter for neutral aminoacids such as alanine, serine, cysteine and threonine. L-Serine is essential for neuronal survival and differentiation. Indeed, L-serine biosynthesis disorders affect brain development and cause severe ID. In the brain, L-serine is synthesized in astrocytes but not in neurons. It has been proposed that ASCT1 mediates the uptake of L-serine into neurons and the release of glia-borne L-serine to neighboring cells. SLC1A4 disruption may thus impair brain development and function by decreasing the levels of L-serine in neurons. The identification of additional families with mutations in SLC1A4 would be necessary to confirm its involvement in ID.