Molecular genetics of metachromatic leukodystrophy

Dev Neurosci. 1991;13(4-5):222-7. doi: 10.1159/000112164.


Metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) is a lysosomal storage disease caused by the deficiency of arylsulfatase A (ASA). The ASA cDNA as well as the gene has been cloned. The gene is about 3 kb long and consists of 8 exons. The two most frequent alleles causing MLD have been characterized and the distribution of these alleles among patients with different clinical forms of MLD has revealed a simple genotype-phenotype correlation. Some individuals have low ASA activities but are healthy. This condition has been called ASA pseudodeficiency. These individuals are homozygous for the ASA pseudodeficiency allele which only encodes 5-10% of the ASA activity compared to the normal allele. The mutations in the PD allele have been characterized. Based on the knowledge of these mutations diagnostic assays have been developed to differentiate ASA deficiencies associated with PD or MLD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Cerebroside-Sulfatase / deficiency
  • Cerebroside-Sulfatase / genetics*
  • Child
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Exons
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Fetal Diseases / enzymology
  • Genes
  • Humans
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic / diagnosis
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic / enzymology
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic / genetics*
  • Lysosomes / enzymology
  • Male
  • Poly A / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Poly A
  • Cerebroside-Sulfatase