NPTX1 mutations trigger endoplasmic reticulum stress and cause autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia.
Brain. 2021-11-11; :
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With more than 40 causative genes identified so far, autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias exhibit a remarkable genetic heterogeneity. Yet, half the patients are lacking a molecular diagnosis.
In a large family with nine sampled affected members, we performed exome sequencing combined with whole-genome linkage analysis. We identified a missense variant in NPTX1, NM_002522.3:c.1165G>A: p.G389R, segregating with the phenotype. Further investigations with whole-exome sequencing and an amplicon-based panel identified four additional unrelated families segregating the same variant, for whom a common founder effect could be excluded. A second missense variant, NM_002522.3:c.980A>G: p.E327G, was identified in a fifth familial case. The NPTX1-associated phenotype consists of a late-onset, slowly progressive, cerebellar ataxia, with downbeat nystagmus, cognitive impairment reminiscent of cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome, myoclonic tremor and mild cerebellar vermian atrophy on brain imaging.
NPTX1 encodes the neuronal pentraxin 1, a secreted protein with various cellular and synaptic functions. Both variants affect conserved amino acid residues and are extremely rare or absent from public databases. In COS7 cells, overexpression of both neuronal pentraxin 1 variants altered endoplasmic reticulum morphology and induced ATF6-mediated endoplasmic reticulum stress, associated with cytotoxicity. In addition, the p.E327G variant abolished neuronal pentraxin 1 secretion, as well as its capacity to form a high molecular weight complex with the wild-type protein. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments coupled with mass spectrometry analysis demonstrated abnormal interactions of this variant with the cytoskeleton. In agreement with these observations, in silico modelling of the neuronal pentraxin 1 complex evidenced a destabilizing effect for the p.E327G substitution, located at the interface between monomers. On the contrary, the p.G389 residue, located at the protein surface, had no predictable effect on the complex stability.
Our results establish NPTX1 as a new causative gene in autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias. We suggest that variants in NPTX1 can lead to cerebellar ataxia due to endoplasmic reticulum stress, mediated by ATF6, and associated to a destabilization of NP1 polymers in a dominant-negative manner for one of the variants.