Waardenburg syndrome (WS) is a rare disorder characterized by pigmentation defects and sensorineural deafness, classified into four clinical subtypes, WS1-S4. Whereas the absence of additional features characterizes WS2, association with Hirschsprung disease defines WS4. WS is genetically heterogeneous, with six genes already identified, including SOX10. About 50 heterozygous SOX10 mutations have been described in patients presenting with WS2 or WS4, with or without myelination defects of the peripheral and central nervous system (PCWH, Peripheral demyelinating neuropathy-Central dysmyelinating leukodystrophy-Waardenburg syndrome-Hirschsprung disease, or PCW, PCWH without HD). The majority are truncating mutations that most often remove the main functional domains of the protein. Only three missense mutations have been thus far reported. In the present study, novel SOX10 missense mutations were found in 11 patients and were examined for effects on SOX10 characteristics and functions. The mutations were associated with various phenotypes, ranging from WS2 to PCWH. All tested mutations were found to be deleterious. Some mutants presented with partial cytoplasmic redistribution, some lost their DNA-binding and/or transactivation capabilities on various tissue-specific target genes. Intriguingly, several mutants were redistributed in nuclear foci. Whether this phenomenon is a cause or a consequence of mutation-associated pathogenicity remains to be determined, but this observation could help to identify new SOX10 modes of action.
© 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.