Null ABCA3 in humans: large homozygous ABCA3 deletion, correlation to clinical-pathological findings

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2014 Mar;49(3):E116-20. doi: 10.1002/ppul.22983. Epub 2014 Jan 14.


A study was undertaken to analyze the clinical presentation, pulmonary function, and pathological features in two female siblings with neonatal pulmonary surfactant metabolism dysfunction, type 3 (MIM 610921). The clinical records of the siblings were examined; the genes encoding surfactant protein B (SFTPB), surfactant protein C (SFTPC), and ATP-binding cassette transporter 3 protein (ABCA3) were analyzed with direct sequencing and Southern blotting. The infants were homozygous for a 5,983 bp deletion in ABCA3 including exons 2-5 as well as the start AUG codon and a putative Golgi exit signal motif. Dense abnormalities of lamellar bodies at electron microscopy and absence of ABCA3 at immunohistochemical staining were in agreement with the presence of two null alleles. In addition, an increased lipid synthesis suggested a compensatory mechanism. The clinical course in the two sisters was influenced by different environmental factors like the time needed for molecular confirmation, the ventilatory assistance adopted, the occurrence of infections. A less aggressive clinical approach did not improve the course of the disease; the prognosis was always poor. Development of a fast molecular test, able to detect also structural variants, is needed.

Keywords: ABCA3; molecular diagnostic testing; newborn; patient care management; respiratory distress syndrome; sequence deletion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / deficiency
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / genetics
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Siblings*


  • ABCA3 protein, human
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters

Supplementary concepts

  • Surfactant Dysfunction