Genetically determined human peroxisomal disorders are subdivided into two major categories: disorders of peroxisome biogenesis (PBD), in which the organelle is not formed normally, and those that involve a single peroxisomal enzyme. Twelve PBD have been identified, and the molecular defects have been defined in 10. All involve defects in the import of proteins into the organelle. Factors required for this import are now referred to as peroxins (PEX) and form the basis of a new and preferred classification system. The PBD are associated with four clinical phenotypes, named before their association with the organelle was recognized: Zellweger syndrome (ZS), neonatal adrenoleukodystrophy (NALD), infantile Refsum disease (IRD), and rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata (RCDP). The first three are associated with 9 of the 10 PEX defects that have been defined so far, and represent a clinical continuum with variant severity, with ZS the most severe, NALD intermediate, and IRD the least severe. RCDP is associated with PEX7. Genotype-phenotype correlations are complicated by the fact that the clinical manifestations of the ZS-NALD-IRD continuum can be mimicked by disorders that affect single enzymes of peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation, and PEX7 by disorders of plasmalogen synthesis enzymes. Furthermore, clinical manifestations of each of the PEX disorders may vary. Phenotypic expression varies with the nature of the mutation, the milder phenotypes being associated with mutations that do not abolish function completely, or with mosaicism. Definition of the molecular defects is of great value for genetic counseling and may be of aid in establishing prognosis.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.