Type 2A protein phosphatases (PP2As) are highly expressed in the brain and regulate neuronal signaling by catalyzing phospho-Ser/Thr dephosphorylations in diverse substrates. PP2A holoenzymes comprise catalytic C-, scaffolding A-, and regulatory B-type subunits, which determine substrate specificity and physiological function. Interestingly, de novo mutations in genes encoding A- and B-type subunits have recently been implicated in intellectual disability (ID) and developmental delay (DD). We now report 16 individuals with mild to profound ID and DD and a de novo mutation in PPP2CA, encoding the catalytic Cα subunit. Other frequently observed features were severe language delay (71%), hypotonia (69%), epilepsy (63%), and brain abnormalities such as ventriculomegaly and a small corpus callosum (67%). Behavioral problems, including autism spectrum disorders, were reported in 47% of individuals, and three individuals had a congenital heart defect. PPP2CA de novo mutations included a partial gene deletion, a frameshift, three nonsense mutations, a single amino acid duplication, a recurrent mutation, and eight non-recurrent missense mutations. Functional studies showed complete PP2A dysfunction in four individuals with seemingly milder ID, hinting at haploinsufficiency. Ten other individuals showed mutation-specific biochemical distortions, including poor expression, altered binding to the A subunit and specific B-type subunits, and impaired phosphatase activity and C-terminal methylation. Four were suspected to have a dominant-negative mechanism, which correlated with severe ID. Two missense variants affecting the same residue largely behaved as wild-type in our functional assays. Overall, we found that pathogenic PPP2CA variants impair PP2A-B56(δ) functionality, suggesting that PP2A-related neurodevelopmental disorders constitute functionally converging ID syndromes.
Keywords: PP2A; PP2A-related neurodevelopmental disorders; PPP2CA; de novo mutation; epilepsy; intellectual disability; syndrome.
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