Background: Hereditary cerebellar ataxia constitutes a heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative disorders, occasionally accompanied by other neurological features. Genetic defects remain to be elucidated in approximately 40% of hereditary cerebellar ataxia cases in Japan. We attempted to identify the gene responsible for autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia with intellectual disability.
Methods: The present study involved three patients in a consanguineous Japanese family. Neurological examination and gene analyses were performed in all family members. We performed genome-wide linkage analysis including single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, copy-number variation analysis and whole exome sequencing. To clarify the functional alteration resulting from the identified mutation, we performed cell viability assay of cultured cells expressing mutant protein.
Results: One homozygous region shared among the three patients on chromosomes 2p16.1-2q12.3 was identified. Using whole exome sequencing, six homozygous variants in genes in the region were detected. Only one variant, VWA3B c.A1865C, results in a change of a highly conserved amino acid (p.K622T) and was not present in control samples. VWA3B encodes a von Willebrand Factor A Domain-Containing Protein 3B with ubiquitous expression, including the cerebellum. The viability of cultured cells expressing the specific K622T mutation was proved to decrease through the activation of apoptotic pathway.
Conclusions: Mutated VWA3B was found to be likely associated with cerebellar degeneration with intellectual disability. Although a rare cause of cerebellar degeneration, these findings indicate a critical role for VWA3B in the apoptosis pathway in neuronal tissues.
Keywords: CEREBELLAR ATAXIA; CEREBELLAR DEGENERATION; GENETICS; NEUROGENETICS.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/