Leukodystrophies are a heterogeneous group of rare inherited disorders that mostly involve the white matter of the CNS. These conditions are characterized by primary glial cell and myelin sheath pathology of variable aetiology, which causes secondary axonal degeneration, generally emerging with disease progression. Whole exome sequencing performed in five large consanguineous nuclear families allowed us to identify homozygosity for two recurrent missense variants affecting highly conserved residues of RNF220 as the causative event underlying a novel form of leukodystrophy with ataxia and sensorineural deafness. We report these two homozygous missense variants (p.R363Q and p.R365Q) in the ubiquitin E3 ligase RNF220 as the underlying cause of this novel form of leukodystrophy with ataxia and sensorineural deafness that includes fibrotic cardiomyopathy and hepatopathy as associated features in seven consanguineous families. Mass spectrometry analysis identified lamin B1 as the RNF220 binding protein and co-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated reduced binding of both RNF220 mutants to lamin B1. We demonstrate that RNF220 silencing in Drosophila melanogaster specifically affects proper localization of lamin Dm0, the fly lamin B1 orthologue, promotes its aggregation and causes a neurodegenerative phenotype, strongly supporting the functional link between RNF220 and lamin B1. Finally, we demonstrate that RNF220 plays a crucial role in the maintenance of nuclear morphology; mutations in primary skin fibroblasts determine nuclear abnormalities such as blebs, herniations and invaginations, which are typically observed in cells of patients affected by laminopathies. Overall, our data identify RNF220 as a gene implicated in leukodystrophy with ataxia and sensorineural deafness and document a critical role of RNF220 in the regulation of nuclear lamina. Our findings provide further evidence on the direct link between nuclear lamina dysfunction and neurodegeneration.
Keywords: fibrotic cardiomyopathy; hepatopathy; laminopathies; leukodystrophy; sensorineural-deafness.
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