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Hum Mutat. 2001 Oct;18(4):264-81.

Molecular genetics of mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIA and IIIB: Diagnostic, clinical, and biological implications.

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  • 1Lysosomal Diseases Research Unit, Department of Chemical Pathology, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) types IIIA, B, C, and D are a group of autosomal recessive lysosomal storage diseases caused by mutations in one of four genes which encode enzyme activities required for the lysosomal degradation of heparan sulfate. The progressive lysosomal storage of heparan sulfate eventually results in the clinical onset of disease, which is predominantly characterized by severe central nervous system degeneration. MPS-IIIA and MPS-IIIB involve deficiencies of heparan sulfate sulfamidase (SGSH) and alpha-N-acetylglucosaminidase (NAGLU), respectively. Both the SGSH and NAGLU genes have been cloned and characterized, thereby permitting mutation analysis of MPS-IIIA and MPS-IIIB patients. A total of 62 mutations have now been defined for MPS-IIIA consisting of 46 missense/nonsense mutations, 15 small insertions/deletions, and one splice site mutation. A total of 86 mutations have been identified in the NAGLU gene of MPS-IIIB patients; 58 missense/nonsense mutations, 27 insertions/deletions, and one splice site mutation. Most of the identified mutations in the SGSH and NAGLU genes are associated with severe clinical phenotypes. Many of the missense, nonsense, and insertion/deletion mutations have been expressed in mammalian cell lines to permit the characterization of their effects on SGSH and NAGLU activity and intracellular processing and trafficking. For MPS-IIIA and MPS-IIIB many of the reported mutations are unique making screening the general population difficult. However, molecular characterization of MPS-IIIA patients has revealed a high incidence of particular mutations of different geographical origins, which will be beneficial for the molecular diagnosis of MPS-IIIA.

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