Spondylolysis is a fracture in part of the vertebra with a reported prevalence of about 3-6% in the general population. Genetic etiology of this disorder remains unknown. The present study was aimed at identifying genomic mutations in patients with dysplastic spondylolysis as well as the potential pathogenesis of the abnormalities. Whole-exome sequencing and functional analysis were performed for patients with spondylolysis. We identified a novel heterozygous mutation (c.2286A > T; p.D673V) in the sulfate transporter gene SLC26A2 in five affected subjects of a Chinese family. Two additional mutations (e.g., c.1922A > G; p.H641R and g.18654T > C in the intron 1) in the gene were identified by screening a cohort of 30 unrelated patients with the disease. In situ hybridization analysis showed that SLC26A2 is abundantly expressed in the lumbosacral spine of the mouse embryo at day 14.5. Sulfate uptake activities in CHO cells transfected with mutant SLC26A2 were dramatically reduced compared with the wild type, confirming the pathogenicity of the two missense mutations. Further analysis of the gene-disease network revealed a convergent pathogenic network for the development of lumbosacral spine. To our knowledge, our findings provide the first identification of autosomal dominant SLC26A2 mutations in patients with dysplastic spondylolysis, suggesting a new clinical entity in the pathogenesis of chondrodysplasia involving lumbosacral spine. The analysis of the gene-disease network may shed new light on the study of patients with dysplastic spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis as well as high-risk individuals who are asymptomatic.
Keywords: dysplastic spondylolysis; lumbosacral spine; solute carrier family 26 sulfate transporter; spondylolisthesis; whole-exome sequencing.