An Overview of UBTF Neuroregression Syndrome

Brain Sci. 2024 Feb 15;14(2):179. doi: 10.3390/brainsci14020179.


Recently, a recurrent de novo dominant mutation in UBTF (c.628G>A, p.Glu210Lys; UBTF E210K) was identified as the cause of a neurological disorder which has been named UBTF Neuroregression Syndrome (UNS), or Childhood-Onset Neurodegeneration with Brain Atrophy (CONDBA). To date, only 17 cases have been reported worldwide. The molecular etiology is a pathogenic variant, E210K, within the HMG-box 2 of Upstream Binding Transcription Factor (UBTF). UBTF, a nucleolar protein, plays an important role in ribosomal RNA (rRNA) synthesis, nucleolar integrity, and cell survival. This variant causes unstable preinitiation complexes to form, resulting in altered rDNA chromatin structures, rRNA dysregulation, DNA damage, and ultimately, neurodegeneration. Defining clinical characteristics of the disorder include but are not limited to developmental regression beginning at approximately three years of age, progressive motor dysfunction, declining cognition, ambulatory loss, and behavioral problems. Histological and neuroimaging abnormalities include cortical atrophy, white matter deficits, and enlarged ventricles. Herein, we present a detailed overview of all published cases as well as the functional roles of UBTF to better understand the pathophysiology. Bringing undiagnosed cases to the attention of clinicians and researchers by making them aware of the clinical features will improve research and support the development of therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: DNA damage response; UBTF; behavioral symptoms; childhood neurological disorders; neurodegeneration; neurodevelopment.

Publication types

  • Review