Tuesday, January 28, 2020

TUBB4A gene mutations

Inspired by a patient

Joyal KM, Michaud J, van der Knaap MS, Bugiani M, Venkateswaran S. Severe TUBB4A-Related Hypomyelination With Atrophy of the Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum: Novel Neuropathological Findings. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2019 Jan 1;78(1):3-9.

Hypomyelination with atrophy of the basal ganglia and cerebellum (H-ABC) is a rare hypomyelinating leukodystrophy characterized by infantile or childhood onset of motor developmental delay, progressive rigidity and spasticity, with hypomyelination and progressive atrophy of the basal ganglia and cerebellum due to a genetic mutation of the TUBB4A gene. It has only been recognized since 2002 and the full spectrum of the disorder is still being delineated. Here, we review a case report of a severely affected girl with a thorough neuropathological evaluation demonstrating novel clinical and pathological findings. Clinically, our patient demonstrated visual dysfunction and hypodontia in addition to the typical phenotype. Morphologically, more severe and widespread changes in the white matter were observed, including to the optic tracts; in gray structures such as the caudate nucleus, thalamus, globus pallidus, and substantia nigra; as well as an area of focal cortical dysplasia. Overall this case offers further insight into the broad range of clinical and neuropathological findings that may be associated with H-ABC and related TUBB4A gene mutations.

Otero-Dominguez E, Gomez-Lado C, Fuentes-Pita P, Dacruz D, Barros-Angueira F, Eiris-Punal J. [Hypomyelinating leukodystrophy type 6. Clinical and neuroimaging key features in the detection of a new case]. Rev Neurol. 2018 Nov 1;67(9):339-342.  [Article in Spanish; Abstract available in Spanish from the publisher]

Abstract in English
Hypomyelinating leukodystrophy-6 is a rare and early onset neurodegenerative disease which entails a clinical pattern of pyramidal-extrapyramidal and cerebellar involvement and it comes with a neuroimaging consisting of hypomielination, cerebellar hypoplasia and specific abnormalities in basal ganglia, particularly the absence or nearly absence of putamen and the possible loss of caudate's volume. It is due to an alteration in tubulin and it is determined by mutations in heterocygosis in TUBB4A gene, showing complete penetrance.

An 8-year-old child with history of delayed motor development, tremor, dysathria, ataxia, nystagmus, cognitive deficit and dystonia with pattern of hypomielination, vermis hypoplasia and absence of putamen. These findings, although distinctive, had been underestimated in previous evaluations and their detection determined the analyse and identification of a pathogenic variant in TUBB4A gene.

Progressive deterioration leads the patient to total dependence or death in infancy or youth and there is no specific treatment capable of modifying its natural course. 

Curiel J, Rodríguez Bey G, Takanohashi A, Bugiani M, Fu X, Wolf NI, Nmezi B, Schiffmann R, Bugaighis M, Pierson T, Helman G, Simons C, van der Knaap MS, Liu J, Padiath Q, Vanderver A. TUBB4A mutations result in specific neuronal and oligodendrocytic defects that closely match clinically distinct phenotypes. Hum Mol Genet. 2017 Nov 15;26(22):4506-4518.

Hypomyelinating leukodystrophies are heritable disorders defined by lack of development of brain myelin, but the cellular mechanisms of hypomyelination are often poorly understood. Mutations in TUBB4A, encoding the tubulin isoform tubulin beta class IVA (Tubb4a), result in the symptom complex of hypomyelination with atrophy of basal ganglia and cerebellum (H-ABC). Additionally, TUBB4A mutations are known to result in a broad phenotypic spectrum, ranging from primary dystonia (DYT4), isolated hypomyelination with spastic quadriplegia, and an infantile onset encephalopathy, suggesting multiple cell types may be involved. We present a study of the cellular effects of TUBB4A mutations responsible for H-ABC (p.Asp249Asn), DYT4 (p.Arg2Gly), a severe combined phenotype with hypomyelination and encephalopathy (p.Asn414Lys), as well as milder phenotypes causing isolated hypomyelination (p.Val255Ile and p.Arg282Pro). We used a combination of histopathological, biochemical and cellular approaches to determine how these different mutations may have variable cellular effects in neurons and/or oligodendrocytes. Our results demonstrate that specific mutations lead to either purely neuronal, combined neuronal and oligodendrocytic or purely oligodendrocytic defects that closely match their respective clinical phenotypes. Thus, the DYT4 mutation that leads to phenotypes attributable to neuronal dysfunction results in altered neuronal morphology, but with unchanged tubulin quantity and polymerization, with normal oligodendrocyte morphology and myelin gene expression. Conversely, mutations associated with isolated hypomyelination (p.Val255Ile and p.Arg282Pro) and the severe combined phenotype (p.Asn414Lys) resulted in normal neuronal morphology but were associated with altered oligodendrocyte morphology, myelin gene expression, and microtubule dysfunction. The H-ABC mutation (p.Asp249Asn) that exhibits a combined neuronal and myelin phenotype had overlapping cellular defects involving both neuronal and oligodendrocyte cell types in vitro. Only mutations causing hypomyelination phenotypes showed altered microtubule dynamics and acted through a dominant toxic gain of function mechanism. The DYT4 mutation had no impact on microtubule dynamics suggesting a distinct mechanism of action. In summary, the different clinical phenotypes associated with TUBB4A reflect the selective and specific cellular effects of the causative mutations. Cellular specificity of disease pathogenesis is relevant to developing targeted treatments for this disabling condition.

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