Identification of a novel nonsense mutation in the rod domain of GFAP that is associated with Alexander disease.
Alexander disease (AxD) is an astrogliopathy that primarily affects the white matter of the central nervous system (CNS). AxD is caused by mutations in a gene encoding GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein). The GFAP mutations in AxD have been reported to act in a gain-of-function manner partly because the identified mutations generate practically full-length GFAP. We found a novel nonsense mutation (c.1000 G>T, p.(Glu312Ter); also termed p.(E312*)) within a rod domain of GFAP in a 67-year-old Korean man with a history of memory impairment and leukoencephalopathy. This mutation, GFAP p.(E312*), removes part of the 2B rod domain and the whole tail domain from the GFAP. We characterized GFAP p.(E312*) using western blotting, in vitro assembly and sedimentation assay, and transient transfection of human adrenal cortex carcinoma SW13 (Vim(+)) cells with plasmids encoding GFAP p.(E312*). The GFAP p.(E312*) protein, either alone or in combination with wild-type GFAP, elicited self-aggregation. In addition, the assembled GFAP p.(E312*) aggregated into paracrystal-like structures, and GFAP p.(E312*) elicited more GFAP aggregation than wild-type GFAP in the human adrenal cortex carcinoma SW13 (Vim(+)) cells. Our findings are the first report, to the best of our knowledge, on this novel nonsense mutation of GFAP that is associated with AxD and paracrystal formation.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 23 April 2014; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.68.