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

Prenatal diagnosis and fetal pathology in a Turkish family harboring a novel nonsense mutation in the lysosomal alpha-N-acetyl-neuraminidase (sialidase) gene.

We report a Turkish family with parental consanguinity and at risk for sialidosis type II, an inherited autosomal recessive disorder caused by lysosomal alpha-N-acetyl-neuraminidase (sialidase, NEU1) deficiency. The proband was a premature male infant that presented with hydrops, hepatomegaly, respiratory distress syndrome, and anemia and that died of respiratory insufficiency 2 months after birth despite intensive care. An abnormally increased [14C]methylamine incorporation and an isolated deficiency of lysosomal alpha-N-acetyl-neuraminidase were found in cultured skin fibroblasts. A previous pregnancy of the mother terminated in a spontaneous abortion in the 13th week of gestation. A successive pregnancy showed hydrops fetalis, and an enzymatic assay of cultured amniotic fluid cells indicated a deficiency of alpha-N-acetyl-neuraminidase. Following pregnancy termination at 20 weeks gestation, light microscopy of fetal tissues revealed classic vacuolation not only in liver, bone marrow, brain, and kidney, but also in endocrine organs such as the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, hypophysis, and testes, and in the thymus. DNA analysis of the family showed that both the proband and the third sibling had a novel homozygous nonsense point mutation at nucleotide 87 in exon 1 of the alpha-N-acetyl-neuraminidase (neu1) gene causing a substitution of tryptophan at codon 29 by a termination codon (W29X). DNA sequencing of polymerase chain reaction products identified the parents as heterozygous carriers. To detect neu1 mRNA expression, a real-time reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction was performed, and similar rates of neu1 mRNA expression were found in the fibroblasts of the fetus, the 2nd sibling, and in controls. The very early termination codon with complete loss of neuraminidase activity is probably the molecular basis of the unusually severe vacuolation pattern in this form of congenital sialidosis.[1]


  1. Prenatal diagnosis and fetal pathology in a Turkish family harboring a novel nonsense mutation in the lysosomal alpha-N-acetyl-neuraminidase (sialidase) gene. Sergi, C., Penzel, R., Uhl, J., Zoubaa, S., Dietrich, H., Decker, N., Rieger, P., Kopitz, J., Otto, H.F., Kiessling, M., Cantz, M. Hum. Genet. (2001) [Pubmed]
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