Objective: Some pathologic features of the FHL1 myopathies and the myofibrillar myopathies (MFMs) overlap; we therefore searched for mutations in FHL1 in our cohort of 50 patients with genetically undiagnosed MFM.
Methods: Mutations in FHL1 were identified by direct sequencing. Polymorphisms were excluded by using allele-specific PCR in 200 control subjects. Structural changes in muscle were analyzed by histochemistry, immunocytochemistry, and electron microscopy.
Results: We detected 2 novel and 1 previously identified missense mutation in 5 patients. Patients 1-4 presented before age 30, display menadione-nitro blue tetrazolium-positive reducing bodies, and harbor mutations in the FHL1 LIM2 domain. Patient 5 presented at age 75 and has no reducing bodies, and his mutation is not in a LIM domain. The clinical features include progressive muscle weakness, hypertrophied muscles, rigid spine, and joint contractures, and 1 patient also has peripheral neuropathy. High-resolution electron microscopy reveals the reducing bodies composed of 13-nm tubulofilaments initially emanating from Z-disks. At a more advanced stage, abundant reducing bodies appear in the cytoplasm and nuclei with concomitant myofibrillar disintegration, accumulation of cytoplasmic degradation products, and aggregation of endoplasmic reticulum and sarcotubular profiles.
Conclusions: FHL1 dystrophies can be associated with MFM pathology. Mutations in the LIM2 domain are associated with reducing bodies composed of distinct tubulofilaments. A mutation extraneous to LIM domains resulted in a mild late-onset phenotype with MFM pathology but no reducing bodies.