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Blood. 2012 Aug 30;120(9):1908-15. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-04-422253. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

Mutations in the mechanotransduction protein PIEZO1 are associated with hereditary xerocytosis.

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CancerCare Manitoba, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Winnipeg, MB.


Hereditary xerocytosis (HX, MIM 194380) is an autosomal dominant hemolytic anemia characterized by primary erythrocyte dehydration. Copy number analyses, linkage studies, and exome sequencing were used to identify novel mutations affecting PIEZO1, encoded by the FAM38A gene, in 2 multigenerational HX kindreds. Segregation analyses confirmed transmission of the PIEZO1 mutations and cosegregation with the disease phenotype in all affected persons in both kindreds. All patients were heterozygous for FAM38A mutations, except for 3 patients predicted to be homozygous by clinical and physiologic studies who were also homozygous at the DNA level. The FAM38A mutations were both in residues highly conserved across species and within members of the Piezo family of proteins. PIEZO proteins are the recently identified pore-forming subunits of channels that mediate mechanotransduction in mammalian cells. FAM38A transcripts were identified in human erythroid cell mRNA, and discovery proteomics identified PIEZO1 peptides in human erythrocyte membranes. These findings, the first report of mutation in a mammalian mechanosensory transduction channel-associated with genetic disease, suggest that PIEZO proteins play an important role in maintaining erythrocyte volume homeostasis.

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