Background: Distal myopathy with rimmed vacuoles (DMRV) is an autosomal-recessive disorder with preferential involvement of the tibialis anterior muscle that starts in young adulthood and spares quadriceps muscles. The disease locus has been mapped to chromosome 9p1-q1, the same region as the hereditary inclusion body myopathy (HIBM) locus. HIBM was originally described as rimmed vacuole myopathy sparing the quadriceps; therefore, the two diseases have been suspected to be allelic. Recently, HIBM was shown to be associated with the mutations in the gene encoding the bifunctional enzyme, UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase/N-acetylmannosamine kinase (GNE).
Objective: To determine whether DMRV and HIBM are allelic.
Methods: The GNE gene was sequenced in 34 patients with DMRV. The epimerase activity in lymphocytes from eight DMRV patients was also measured.
Results: The authors identified 27 unrelated DMRV patients with homozygous or compound-heterozygous mutations in the GNE gene. DMRV patients had markedly decreased epimerase activity.
Conclusions: DMRV is allelic to HIBM. Various mutations are associated with DMRV in Japan. The loss-of-function mutations in the GNE gene appear to cause DMRV/HIBM.