Molecular analysis of SUMF1 mutations: stability and residual activity of mutant formylglycine-generating enzyme determine disease severity in multiple sulfatase deficiency

Hum Mutat. 2008 Jan;29(1):205. doi: 10.1002/humu.9515.


Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency (MSD) is a rare inborn autosomal-recessive disorder, which mainly combines clinical features of metachromatic leukodystrophy, mucopolysaccharidosis and X-linked ichthyosis. The clinical course ranges from neonatal severe to mild juvenile cases. MSD is caused by mutations in the SUMF1 gene encoding the formylglycine-generating enzyme (FGE). FGE posttranslationally activates sulfatases by generating formylglycine in their catalytic sites. We analyzed the functional consequences of missense mutations p.A177P, p.W179S, p.A279V and p.R349W with regard to FGE's subcellular localization, enzymatic activity, protein stability, intracellular retention and resulting sulfatase activities. All four mutations did not affect localization of FGE in the endoplasmic reticulum of MSD fibroblasts. However, they decreased its specific enzymatic activity to less than 1% (p.A177P and p.R349W), 3% (p.W179S) or 23% (p.A279V). Protein stability was severely decreased for p.A279V and p.R349W, and almost comparable to wild type for p.A177P and p.W179S. The patient with the mildest clinical phenotype carries the mutation p.A279V leading to decreased FGE protein stability, but high residual enzymatic activity and only slightly reduced sulfatase activities. In contrast, the most severely affected patient carries the mutation p.R349W leading to drastically decreased protein stability, very low residual enzymatic activity and considerably reduced sulfatase activities. Our functional studies provide novel insight into the molecular defect underlying MSD and reveal that both residual enzyme activity and protein stability of FGE contribute to the clinical phenotype. The application of improved functional assays to determine these two molecular parameters of FGE mutants may enable the prediction of the clinical outcome in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency Disease / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency Disease / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on Sulfur Group Donors
  • Phenotype
  • Sulfatases / analysis
  • Sulfatases / genetics*
  • Sulfatases / metabolism


  • Oxidoreductases Acting on Sulfur Group Donors
  • SUMF1 protein, human
  • Sulfatases