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Mol Genet Metab. 2008 Nov;95(3):174-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2008.06.015. Epub 2008 Aug 26.

Clinical outcomes in Menkes disease patients with a copper-responsive ATP7A mutation, G727R.

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Unit on Pediatric Genetics, Program in Molecular Medicine, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20892-1832, USA.


Menkes disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of infancy caused by defects in an X-linked copper transport gene, ATP7A. Evidence from a recent clinical trial indicates that favorable response to early treatment of this disorder with copper injections involves mutations that retain some copper transport capacity. In three unrelated infants, we identified the same mutation, G727R, in the second transmembrane segment of ATP7A that complemented a Saccharomyces cerevisiae copper transport mutant, consistent with partial copper transport activity. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction studies showed approximately normal levels of ATP7A(G727R) transcript in two patients' fibroblasts compared to wild-type controls, but Western blot analyses showed markedly reduced quantities of ATP7A, suggesting post-translational degradation. We confirmed the latter by comparing degradation rates of mutant and wild-type ATP7A via cyclohexamide treatment of cultured fibroblasts; half-life of the G727R mutant was 2.9h and for the wild-type, 11.4h. We also documented a X-box binding protein 1 splice variant in G727R cells-known to be associated with the cellular misfolded protein response. Patient A, diagnosed 6 months of age, began treatment at 228days (7.6 months) of age. At his current age (2.5 years), his overall neurodevelopment remains at a 2- to 4-month level. In contrast, patient B and patient C were diagnosed in the neonatal period, began treatment within 25 days of age, and show near normal neurodevelopment at their current ages, 3years (patient B), and 7 months (patient C). The poor clinical outcome in patient A with the same missense mutation as patient A and patient B with near normal oucomes, confirms the importance of early medical intervention in Menkes disease and highlights the critical potential benefit of newborn screening for this disorder.

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