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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Etiological point mutations in the hereditary multiple exostoses gene EXT1: a functional analysis of heparan sulfate polymerase activity.

Hereditary multiple exostoses (HME), a dominantly inherited genetic disorder characterized by multiple cartilaginous tumors, is caused by mutations in members of the EXT gene family, EXT1 or EXT2. The corresponding gene products, exostosin-1 (EXT1) and exostosin-2 (EXT2), are type II transmembrane glycoproteins which form a Golgi-localized heterooligomeric complex that catalyzes the polymerization of heparan sulfate (HS). Although the majority of the etiological mutations in EXT are splice-site, frameshift, or nonsense mutations that result in premature termination, 12 missense mutations have also been identified. Furthermore, two of the reported etiological missense mutations (G339D and R340C) have been previously shown to abrogate HS biosynthesis (McCormick et al. 1998). Here, a functional assay that detects HS expression on the cell surface of an EXT1-deficient cell line was used to test the remaining missense mutant exostosin proteins for their ability to rescue HS biosynthesis in vivo. Our results show that EXT1 mutants bearing six of these missense mutations (D164H, R280G/S, and R340S/H/L) are also defective in HS expression, but surprisingly, four (Q27K, N316S, A486V, and P496L) are phenotypically indistinguishable from wild-type EXT1. Three of these four "active" mutations affect amino acids that are not conserved among vertebrates and invertebrates, whereas all of the HS-biosynthesis null mutations affect only conserved amino acids. Further, substitution or deletion of each of these four residues does not abrogate HS biosynthesis. Taken together, these results indicate that several of the reported etiological mutant EXT forms retain the ability to synthesize and express HS on the cell surface. The corresponding missense mutations may therefore represent rare genetic polymorphisms in the EXT1 gene or may interfere with as yet undefined functions of EXT1 that are involved in HME pathogenesis.[1]


  1. Etiological point mutations in the hereditary multiple exostoses gene EXT1: a functional analysis of heparan sulfate polymerase activity. Cheung, P.K., McCormick, C., Crawford, B.E., Esko, J.D., Tufaro, F., Duncan, G. Am. J. Hum. Genet. (2001) [Pubmed]
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