Homozygous EPRS1 missense variant causing hypomyelinating leukodystrophy-15 alters variant-distal mRNA m6A site accessibility

Nat Commun. 2024 May 20;15(1):4284. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-48549-x.


Hypomyelinating leukodystrophy (HLD) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by defective central nervous system myelination. Exome sequencing of two siblings with severe cognitive and motor impairment and progressive hypomyelination characteristic of HLD revealed homozygosity for a missense single-nucleotide variant (SNV) in EPRS1 (c.4444 C > A; p.Pro1482Thr), encoding glutamyl-prolyl-tRNA synthetase, consistent with HLD15. Patient lymphoblastoid cell lines express markedly reduced EPRS1 protein due to dual defects in nuclear export and cytoplasmic translation of variant EPRS1 mRNA. Variant mRNA exhibits reduced METTL3 methyltransferase-mediated writing of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) and reduced reading by YTHDC1 and YTHDF1/3 required for efficient mRNA nuclear export and translation, respectively. In contrast to current models, the variant does not alter the sequence of m6A target sites, but instead reduces their accessibility for modification. The defect was rescued by antisense morpholinos predicted to expose m6A sites on target EPRS1 mRNA, or by m6A modification of the mRNA by METTL3-dCas13b, a targeted RNA methylation editor. Our bioinformatic analysis predicts widespread occurrence of SNVs associated with human health and disease that similarly alter accessibility of distal mRNA m6A sites. These results reveal a new RNA-dependent etiologic mechanism by which SNVs can influence gene expression and disease, consequently generating opportunities for personalized, RNA-based therapeutics targeting these disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine* / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenosine* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hereditary Central Nervous System Demyelinating Diseases* / genetics
  • Homozygote*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methyltransferases* / genetics
  • Methyltransferases* / metabolism
  • Mutation, Missense*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA Splicing Factors
  • RNA, Messenger* / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger* / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Adenosine
  • Methyltransferases
  • METTL3 protein, human
  • N-methyladenosine
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA Splicing Factors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • YTHDC1 protein, human
  • YTHDF1 protein, human
  • glutamyl-prolyl-tRNA synthetase