Background: Nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) is a master transcriptional regulator critical for ectodermal development and normal innate and adaptive immune function. Mutations in the IkappaB kinase gamma/NF-kappaB essential modifier have been described in male subjects with the syndrome of X-linked ectodermal dysplasia with immune deficiency that results from impaired activation of NF-kappaB.
Objectives: We sought to determine the genetic cause of ectodermal dysplasia with immune deficiency in a female patient.
Methods: Toll-like receptor-induced production of the NF-kappaB-dependent cytokines TNF-alpha and IFN-alpha was examined by means of ELISA, the patient's IkappaBalpha gene was sequenced, and NF-kappaB activation was evaluated by means of electrophoretic mobility shift assay and NF-kappaB-luciferase assays in transfectants.
Results: Toll-like receptor function was impaired in the patient. Sequencing of the patient's IkappaBalpha gene revealed a novel heterozygous mutation at amino acid 11 (W11X). The mutant IkappaBalphaW11X protein did not undergo ligand-induced phosphorylation or degradation and retained NF-kappaB in the cytoplasm. This led to roughly a 50% decrease in NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity, leading to functional haploinsufficiency of NF-kappaB activation. Unlike the only other reported IkappaBalpha mutant associated with ectodermal dysplasia associated with immune deficiency (ED-ID), S32I, IkappaBalphaW11X exerted no dominant-negative effect.
Conclusions: Functional NF-kappaB haploinsufficiency was associated with ED-ID, and this strongly suggests that normal ectodermal development and immune function are stringently dependent on NF-kappaB in that they might require more than half of normal NF-kappaB activity.
Clinical implications: Although ED-ID is well described in male subjects, female subjects can present with a similar syndrome of ectodermal dysplasia with immune deficiency resulting from mutations in autosomal genes within the NF-kappaB pathway.