X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is an inherited disease characterized by progressive neurologic dysfunction, occasionally associated with adrenal insufficiency. The classic form of ALD usually has onset in childhood (childhood cerebral ALD), with rapid neurologic deterioration leading to a vegetative state. Adult-onset cerebral ALD also presents with rapidly progressive neurologic dysfunction. Milder phenotypes such as adrenomyeloneuropathy and Addison disease only also have been recognized. Despite discovery of the causative gene, a molecular basis for the diverse clinical presentations remains to be elucidated.
To conduct mutational analyses in 29 Japanese patients with ALD from 29 unrelated families, to obtain knowledge of the spectrum of mutations in this gene, and to study genotype-phenotype correlations in Japanese patients.
The 29 patients comprised 13 patients with childhood cerebral ALD, 11 patients with adult-onset cerebral ALD, and 5 patients with adrenomyeloneuropathy. We conducted detailed mutational analyses of 29 unrelated Japanese patients with ALD by genomic Southern blot analysis and direct nucleotide sequence analysis of reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction products derived from total RNA that was extracted from cultured skin fibroblasts, lymphoblastoid cells, or peripheral blood leukocytes.
Three patients with adult-onset cerebral ALD were identified as having large genomic rearrangements. The remaining 26 patients were identified as having 21 independent mutations, including 12 novel mutations resulting in small nucleotide alterations in the ALD gene. Eighteen (69%) of 26 mutations were missense mutations. Most missense mutations involved amino acids conserved in homologous gene products, including PMP70, mALDRP, and Pxa1p. The AG dinucleotide deletion at position 1081-1082, which has been reported previously to be the most common mutation in white patients (12%-17%), was also identified as the most common mutation in Japanese patients (12%). All phenotypes were associated with mutations resulting in protein truncation or subtle amino acid changes. There were no differences in phenotypic expressions between missense mutations involving conserved amino acids and those involving nonconserved amino acids.
There are no obvious correlations between the phenotypes of patients with ALD and their genotypes, suggesting that other genetic or environmental factors modify the phenotypic expressions of ALD.