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Amino Acids. 2012 May;42(5):1661-8. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-0868-4. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Drosophila as a platform to predict the pathogenicity of novel aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase mutations in CMT.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610, Antwerp, Belgium.


Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is the major form of inherited peripheral neuropathy in humans. CMT is clinically and genetically heterogeneous and four aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases have been implicated in disease etiology. Mutations in the YARS gene encoding a tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (TyrRS) lead to Dominant Intermediate CMT type C (DI-CMTC). Three dominant YARS mutations were so far associated with DI-CMTC. To further expand the spectrum of CMT causing genetic defects in this tRNA synthetase, we performed DNA sequencing of YARS coding regions in a cohort of 181 patients with various types of peripheral neuropathy. We identified a novel K265N substitution that in contrast to all previously described mutations is located at the anticodon recognition domain of the enzyme. Further genetic analysis revealed that this variant represents a benign substitution. Using our recently developed DI-CMTC Drosophila model, we tested in vivo the pathogenicity of this new YARS variant. We demonstrated that the developmental and behavioral defects induced by all DI-CMTC causing mutations were not present upon ubiquitous or panneuronal TyrRS K265N expression. Thus, in line with our genetic studies, functional analysis confirmed that the K265N substitution does not induce toxicity signs in Drosophila. The consistency observed throughout this work underscores the robustness of our DI-CMTC animal model and identifies Drosophila as a valid read-out platform to ascertain the pathogenicity of novel mutations to be identified in the future.

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