Intragenic variants in the SMN1 gene determine the clinical phenotype in 5q spinal muscular atrophy

Neurol Genet. 2020 Sep 1;6(5):e505. doi: 10.1212/NXG.0000000000000505. eCollection 2020 Oct.


Objective: The aim of the study was to report the proportion of homozygous and compound heterozygous variants in the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene in a large population of patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and to correlate the severity of the disease with the presence of specific intragenic variants in SMN1 and with the SMN2 copy number.

Methods: Four hundred fifty Brazilian patients with SMA were included in a retrospective study, and clinical data were analyzed compared with genetic data; the SMN2 copy number was obtained by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification and pathogenic variants in SMN1 by next-generation sequencing.

Results: Four hundred two patients (89.3%) presented homozygous exon 7-SMN1 deletion, and 48 (10.7%) were compound heterozygous for the common deletion in one allele and a point mutation in the other allele. Recurrent variants in exons 3 and 6 (c.460C>T, c.770_780dup and c.734_735insC) accounted for almost 80% of compound heterozygous patients. Another recurrent pathogenic variant was c.5C>G at exon 1. Patients with c.770_780dup and c.734_735insC had a clinical phenotype correlated with SMN2 copy number, whereas the variants c.460C>T and c.5C>G determined a milder phenotype independently of the SMN2 copies.

Conclusions: Patients with specific pathogenic variants (c.460C>T and c.5C>G) presented a milder phenotype, and the SMN2 copy number did not correlate with disease severity in this group.