Hypophosphatasia is an inborn error of metabolism caused by a deficiency of liver-, bone- or kidney-type alkaline phosphatase due to mutations in the tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (ALPL) gene. Most of the 65 distinct mutations described to date are missense mutations, a result which must be correlated with the great variability of clinical expression ranging from stillbirth without mineralized bone to pathologic fractures developing only late in adulthood. Correlations of genotype and phenotype have been established on the basis of clinical data exhibited by the patients, transfection studies, computer-assisted modeling, and examination of biochemical properties of ALP in cultured fibroblasts of patients. Screening for mutations in the TNSALP gene allows genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis of the disease in families with severe forms of hypophosphatasia, and screening may also be helpful in confirming diagnosis of hypophosphatasia when biochemical and clinical data are not clear. Screening is also the necessary first step in further studies to elucidate dominant transmission of the disease and of liver-, bone- and kidney-type alkaline phosphatase activity mechanism.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.