Wolman Disease (WD) and cholesteryl ester storage disease (CESD) represent two distinct phenotypes of the same recessive disorder caused by the complete or partial deficiency of lysosomal acidic lipase (LAL), respectively. LAL, encoded by the LIPA gene, hydrolyzes cholesteryl esters derived from cell internalization of plasma lipoproteins. WD is a rapidly progressive and lethal disease characterized by intestinal malabsorption, hepatic and adrenal failure. CESD is characterized by hepatic fibrosis, hyperlipidemia and accelerated atherosclerosis. Aim of the study was the identification of LIPA mutations in three WD and eight CESD patients. The WD patients, all deceased before the first year of age, were homozygous for two novel mutations (c.299+1G>A and c.419G>A) or a mutation (c.796G>T) previously reported as compound heterozygosity in a CESD patient. The two mutations (c.419G>A and c.796G>T) resulting in truncated proteins (p.W140* and p.G266*) and the splicing mutation (c.229+1G>A) were associated with undetectable levels of LIPA mRNA in fibroblasts. All eight CESD patients carried the common mutation c.894G>A known to result not only in a major non-functional transcript with the skipping of exon 8 (p.S275_Q298del), but also in a minor normally spliced transcript producing 5-10% residual LAL activity. The c.894G>A mutation was found in homozygosity in four patients and, as compound heterozygosity, in association with a known (p.H295Y and p.G342R) or a novel (p.W140*) mutation in four other CESD patients. Segregation analysis performed in all patients harboring c.895G>A showed its occurrence on the same haplotype suggesting a common founder ancestor. The other WD and CESD mutations were associated with different haplotypes.
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