Purpose: In this study we aimed to identify the molecular genetic cause of a progressive multisystem disease with prominent lipodystrophy. Methods: In total, 5 affected individuals were investigated using exome sequencing. Dermal fibroblasts were characterized using RNA sequencing, proteomics, immunoblotting, immunostaining, and electron microscopy. Subcellular localization and rescue studies were performed. Results: We identified a lipodystrophy phenotype with a typical facial appearance, corneal clouding, achalasia, progressive hearing loss, and variable severity. Although 3 individuals showed stunted growth, intellectual disability, and died within the first decade of life (A1, A2, and A3), 2 are adults with normal intellectual development (A4 and A5). All individuals harbored an identical homozygous nonsense variant affecting the retention and splicing complex component BUD13. The nucleotide substitution caused alternative splicing of BUD13 leading to a stable truncated protein whose expression positively correlated with disease expression and life expectancy. In dermal fibroblasts, we found elevated intron retention, a global reduction of spliceosomal proteins, and nuclei with multiple invaginations, which were more pronounced in A1, A2, and A3. Overexpression of both BUD13 isoforms normalized the nuclear morphology. Conclusion: Our results define a hitherto unknown syndrome and show that the alternative splice product converts a loss-of-function into a hypomorphic allele, thereby probably determining the severity of the disease and the survival of affected individuals.
Research Areas and Centers
- Research Area: Medical Genetics