Novel EGR2 variant that associates with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease when combined with lipopolysaccharide-induced TNF-α factor T49M polymorphism

Neurol Genet. 2020 Mar 3;6(2):e407. doi: 10.1212/NXG.0000000000000407. eCollection 2020 Apr.


Objective: To identify novel genetic mechanisms causing Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease.

Methods: We performed a next-generation sequencing study of 34 genes associated with CMT in a patient with peripheral neuropathy.

Results: We found a non-previously described mutation in EGR2 (p.P397H). P397H mutation is located within the loop that connects zinc fingers 2 and 3, a pivotal domain for the activity of this transcription factor. Using promoter activity luciferase assays, we found that this mutation promotes decreased transcriptional activity of EGR2. In this patient, we also found a previously described nonpathogenic polymorphism in lipopolysaccharide-induced TNF-α factor (LITAF) (p.T49M). We show that the p.T49M mutation decreases the steady-state levels of the LITAF protein in Schwann cells. Loss of function of LITAF has been shown to produce deregulation in the NRG1-erbB signaling, a pivotal pathway for EGR2 expression by Schwann cells. Surprisingly, our segregation study demonstrates that p.P397H mutation in EGR2 is not sufficient to produce CMT disease. Most notably, only those patients expressing simultaneously the LITAF T49M polymorphism develop peripheral neuropathy.

Conclusions: Our data support that the LITAF loss-of-function interferes with the expression of the transcriptional-deficient EGR2 P397H mutant hampering Schwann cell differentiation and suggest that in vivo both genes act in tandem to allow the proper development of myelin.