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Hum Mutat. 2004 Aug;24(2):186-7.

Acid sphingomyelinase: identification of nine novel mutations among Italian Niemann Pick type B patients and characterization of in vivo functional in-frame start codon.

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  • 1Unità di Malattie Metaboliche, I.R.C.C.S. Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy.


Niemann Pick disease (NPD) is an autosomal recessive disorder due to the deficit of lysosomal acid sphingomyelinase, which results in intracellular accumulation of sphingomyelin. In the present work we studied 18 patients with NPD type B, including five individuals who presented an intermediate phenotype characterised by different levels of neurological involvement. We identified nine novel mutations in the SMPD1 gene including six single base changes c.2T>G, c.96G>A, c.308T>C, c.674T>C, c.732G>C, c.841G>A (p.M1_W32del, p.W32X, p.L103P, p.L225P, p.W244C, p.A281T) and three frameshift mutations c.100delC, c.565dupC, c.575dupC (p.G34fsX42, p.P189fsX1 and p.P192fsX14). The novel c.2T>G (p.M1_W32del) mutation inactivates the first in-frame translation start site of the SMPD1 gene and in the homozygous status causes NPD type B indicating that in'vivo translation of wild type SMPD1 initiates from the first in-frame ATG. Moreover, the new c.96G>A (p.W32X) introduces a premature stop codon before the second in-frame ATG. As a consequence of either c.2T>G (p.M1_W32del) or c.96G>A (p.W32X), impaired translation from the first in-frame ATG results in a mild NPD-B phenotype instead of the severe phenotype expected for a complete deficiency of the enzyme, suggesting that when the first ATG is not functional, the second initiation codon (ATG33) still produces a fairly functional sphingomyelinase. Analysis of the patients'clinical and molecular data demonstrated that all five patients with the intermediate phenotype carried at least one severe mutation. No association between the onset of pulmonary symptoms and genotype was observed. Finally, the presence of c.96G>A (p.W32X), the most frequent allele among Italian NPD type B population, and c.1799G>C (p.R600P) as compound heterozygotes in association with severe mutations suggested a beneficial effect for both mutations.

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