Novel mutations in the GJC2 gene associated with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease.

August 01, 2019

Owczarek-Lipska M1,2, Mulahasanovic L3,4, Obermaier CD3,4, Hörtnagel K3,4, Neubauer BA5, Korenke GC6, Biskup S3,4, Neidhardt J7,8.


Inherited white matter disorders of the central nervous system frequently are degenerative and progressive clinical entities. They are classified into myelin disorders, including hypomyelination, dysmyelination, demyelination, and myelin vacuolization, but also astrocytopathies, leuko-axonopathies, microgliopathies, and leuko-vasculopathies. Hypomyelinating leukodystrophy is the main feature of Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease (PMD) and Pelizaeus–Merzbacher–like disease (PMLD1). PMD- and PMLD1-affected patients display comparable neurological symptoms, including psychomotor developmental delay, spasticity, nystagmus, impairment of cognitive skills, sensorineural hearing loss, and different ophthalmological disabilities. While clinical features overlap, PMD and PMLD1 can be distinguished on the molecular genetic level. PMD is caused by mutations in the gene encoding for the proteolipid protein 1 (PLP1), whereas PMLD1 is associated with mutations in the gene encoding for the gap junction protein gamma 2 (GJC2). Here we present novel compound-heterozygous mutations in the GJC2 gene identified in two, unrelated infantile patients affected with PMLD1. The heterozygous frameshift mutations c.392dupC, p.H132Afs*6 and c.989delC, p.P330Rfs*141 were found in the first patient. The heterozygous nonsense variant c.291C>G, p.Y97*, as well as the heterozygous missense variant c.716T>C, p.V239A were detected in the second patient. All four variants were predicted to be damaging for structure and/or function of the GJC2 protein. Combinations of these genetic variants likely are pathogenic and resulted in the PMLD1-phenotype in the investigated children. In conclusion, our clinical and molecular findings confirmed the genotype-phenotype relationship between mutations in the GJC2 and PMLD1. The novel mutations of GJC2 described herein will help to further understand the pathogenic mechanism underlying PMLD1.