Hypomyelinating leukodystrophies are a group of genetic disorders characterized by insufficient myelin deposition during development. A subset of hypomyelinating leukodystrophies, named RNA polymerase III (Pol III or POLR3)-related leukodystrophy or 4H (Hypomyelination, Hypodontia and Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism) leukodystrophy, was found to be caused by biallelic variants in genes encoding subunits of the enzyme Pol III, including POLR3A, POLR3B, POLR3K, and POLR1C. Pol III is one of the three nuclear RNA polymerases that synthesizes small non-coding RNAs, such as tRNAs, 5S RNA, and others, that are involved in the regulation of essential cellular processes, including transcription, translation and RNA maturation. Affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry (AP-MS) revealed that a number of mutations causing POLR3-related leukodystrophy impair normal assembly or biogenesis of Pol III, often causing a retention of the unassembled subunits in the cytoplasm. Even though these proteomic studies have helped to understand the molecular defects associated with leukodystrophy, how these mutations cause hypomyelination has yet to be defined. In this review we propose two main hypotheses to explain how mutations affecting Pol III subunits can cause hypomyelination.
Keywords: RNA polymerase III; genetic disease; leukodystrophy; myelination; protein complex assembly.
Copyright: © 2021 Coulombe B et al.