Background: Alport syndrome (AS) is a hereditary nephropathy characterized by progressive renal failure, hearing loss and ocular lesions. Numerous mutations of the COL4A5 gene encoding the alpha 5-chain of type IV collagen have been described, establishing the molecular cause of AS. The goal of the present study was to identify the genotype-phenotype correlations that are helpful in clinical counseling. COL4A5-mutations (n=267) in males were analysed including 23 German Alport families.
Methods: Exons of the COL4A5 gene were PCR-amplified and screened by Southern blot, direct sequencing or denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Phenotypes were obtained by questionnaires or extracted from 44 publications in the literature. Data were analysed by Kaplan-Meier statistics, chi(2) and Kruskal-Wallis tests.
Results: Genotype-phenotype data for 23 German Alport families are reported. Analysis of these data and of mutations published in the literature showed the type of mutation being a significant predictor of end-stage renal failure (ESRF) age. The patients' renal phenotypes could be grouped into three cohorts: (1) large rearrangements, frame shift, nonsense, and splice donor mutations had a mean ESRF age of 19.8+/-5.7 years; (2) non-glycine- or 3' glycine-missense mutations, in-frame deletions/insertions and splice acceptor mutations had a mean ESRF age of 25.7+/-7.2 years and fewer extrarenal symptoms; (3) 5' glycine substitutions had an even later onset of ESRF at 30.1+/-7.2 years. Glycine-substitutions occurred less commonly de novo than all other mutations (5.5% vs 13.9%). However, due to the evolutionary advantage of their moderate phenotype, they were the most common mutations. The intrafamilial phenotype of an individual mutation was found to be very consistent with regards to the manifestation of deafness, lenticonus and the time point of onset of ESRF.
Conclusions: Knowledge of the mutation adds significant information about the progress of renal and extrarenal disease in males with X-linked AS. We suggest that the considerable prognostic relevance of a patient's genotype should be included in the classification of the Alport phenotype.