SMN1 Duplications Are Associated With Progressive Muscular Atrophy, but Not With Multifocal Motor Neuropathy and Primary Lateral Sclerosis

Neurol Genet. 2021 Jun 22;7(4):e598. doi: 10.1212/NXG.0000000000000598. eCollection 2021 Aug.


Objective: To assess the association between copy number (CN) variation in the survival motor neuron (SMN) locus and multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN), progressive muscular atrophy (PMA), and primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) susceptibility and to determine the association of SMN1 and SMN2 CN with MMN, PMA, and PLS disease course.

Methods: In this monocenter study, we used multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification to determine SMN1 and SMN2 CN in Dutch patients with MMN, PMA, and PLS and controls. We stratified clinical parameters for SMN1 and SMN2 CN. We analyzed SMN1 and SMN2 exons 1-6, intron 6, and exon 8 CN to study the genetic architecture of SMN1 duplications.

Results: SMN1 and SMN2 CN were determined in 132 patients with MMN, 150 patients with PMA, 104 patients with PLS, and 956 control subjects. MMN and PLS were not associated with CN variation in SMN1 or SMN2. By contrast, patients with PMA more often than controls carried SMN1 duplications (≥3 SMN1 copies, 12.0% vs 5.0%, odds ratio 2.69 (1.43-4.91), p 0.0020). SMN1 and SMN2 CN status was not associated with MMN, PLS, or PMA disease course. In case of SMN1 exon 7 duplications, exons 1-6, exon 8, and introns 6 and 7 were also duplicated, suggesting full SMN1 duplications.

Conclusions: SMN1 duplications are associated with PMA, but not with PLS and MMN. SMN1 duplications in PMA are balanced duplications. The results of this study highlight the primary effect of altered SMN CN on lower motor neurons.