Mutations in ceramide biosynthesis pathways have been implicated in a few Mendelian disorders of keratinization, although ceramides are known to have key roles in several biological processes in skin and other tissues. Using whole-exome sequencing in four probands with undiagnosed skin hyperkeratosis/ichthyosis, we identified compound heterozygosity for mutations in KDSR, encoding an enzyme in the de novo synthesis pathway of ceramides. Two individuals had hyperkeratosis confined to palms, soles, and anogenital skin, whereas the other two had more severe, generalized harlequin ichthyosis-like skin. Thrombocytopenia was present in all patients. The mutations in KDSR were associated with reduced ceramide levels in skin and impaired platelet function. KDSR enzymatic activity was variably reduced in all patients, resulting in defective acylceramide synthesis. Mutations in KDSR have recently been reported in inherited recessive forms of progressive symmetric erythrokeratoderma, but our study shows that biallelic mutations in KDSR are implicated in an extended spectrum of disorders of keratinization in which thrombocytopenia is also part of the phenotype. Mutations in KDSR cause defective ceramide biosynthesis, underscoring the importance of ceramide and sphingosine synthesis pathways in skin and platelet biology.
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