We performed exome analysis in two affected siblings with severe intellectual disability (ID), microcephaly and spasticity from an Ashkenazi Jewish consanguineous family. We identified only one rare variant, a missense in SLC1A4 (c. 766G>A [p. E256K]), that is homozygous in both siblings but not in any of their 11 unaffected siblings or their parents (Logarithm of odds, LOD score: 2.6). This variant is predicted damaging. We genotyped 450 controls of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and identified only 5 individuals who are heterozygous for this variant (minor allele frequency: 0.0056). SLC1A4 (ASCT1) encodes a transporter for neutral aminoacids such as alanine, serine, cysteine and threonine. L-Serine is essential for neuronal survival and differentiation. Indeed, L-serine biosynthesis disorders affect brain development and cause severe ID. In the brain, L-serine is synthesized in astrocytes but not in neurons. It has been proposed that ASCT1 mediates the uptake of L-serine into neurons and the release of glia-borne L-serine to neighboring cells. SLC1A4 disruption may thus impair brain development and function by decreasing the levels of L-serine in neurons. The identification of additional families with mutations in SLC1A4 would be necessary to confirm its involvement in ID.
Keywords: Ashkenazi Jewish; SLC1A4; exome sequencing; intellectual disability; microcephaly; neutral amino acid.
© 2015 John Wiley | Clinical Exome Genome Reports.