The PEX Gene Screen: molecular diagnosis of peroxisome biogenesis disorders in the Zellweger syndrome spectrum

Mol Genet Metab. 2004 Nov;83(3):252-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2004.08.008.


Peroxisome biogenesis disorders in the Zellweger syndrome spectrum (PBD-ZSS) are caused by defects in at least 12 PEX genes required for normal organelle assembly. Clinical and biochemical features continue to be used reliably to assign patients to this general disease category. Identification of the precise genetic defect is important, however, to permit carrier testing and early prenatal diagnosis. Molecular analysis is likely to expand the clinical spectrum of PBD and may also provide data relevant to prognosis and future therapeutic intervention. However, the large number of genes involved has thus far impeded rapid mutation identification. In response, we developed the PEX Gene Screen, an algorithm for the systematic screening of exons in the six PEX genes most commonly defective in PBD-ZSS. We used PCR amplification of genomic DNA and sequencing to screen 91 unclassified PBD-ZSS patients for mutations in PEX1, PEX26, PEX6, PEX12, PEX10, and PEX2. A maximum of 14 reactions per patient identified pathological mutations in 79% and both mutant alleles in 54%. Twenty-five novel mutations were identified overall. The proportion of patients with different PEX gene defects correlated with frequencies previously identified by complementation analysis. This systematic, hierarchical approach to mutation identification is therefore a valuable tool to identify rapidly the molecular etiology of suspected PBD-ZSS disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Alleles*
  • DNA Primers
  • Exons / genetics
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • PHEX Phosphate Regulating Neutral Endopeptidase
  • Peroxisomes / genetics
  • Peroxisomes / metabolism*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Zellweger Syndrome / genetics*
  • Zellweger Syndrome / metabolism


  • DNA Primers
  • Proteins
  • PHEX Phosphate Regulating Neutral Endopeptidase
  • PHEX protein, human