MFSD2A-associated primary microcephaly – Expanding the clinical and mutational spectrum of this ultra-rare disease


Khuller K, Yigit G, Grijalva CM, Altmüller J, Thiele H, Nürnberg P, Elcioglu NH, Yeter B, Hehr U, Stein A, Della Marina A, Köninger A, Depienne C, Kaiser FJ, Wollnik B, Kuechler A


European Journal of Medical Genetics


Eur J Med Genet. 2021 Aug 13:104310.


MFSD2A, a member of the major facilitator superfamily (MFS), is a transmembrane transporter responsible for the uptake of specific essential fatty acids through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to the brain. The transporter is crucial for early embryonic brain development and a major factor in the formation and maintenance of the BBB. Mfsd2a-knockout mice show a leakage of the BBB in early embryonic stages and develop a phenotype characterized by microcephaly, cognitive impairment, and anxiety. So far, homozygous or compound heterozygous MFSD2A mutations in humans have only been reported in 13 different families with a total of 28 affected individuals. The phenotypical spectrum of patients with MFSD2A variants is rather broad but all patients present with microcephaly and severe intellectual disability, absent or limited speech, and walking difficulties. Severely affected patients develop seizures and show brain malformations and have, above all, a profound developmental delay hardly reaching any developmental motor milestones. Here, we report on two unrelated individuals with novel homozygous variants in the MFSD2A gene, presenting with severe primary microcephaly, brain malformations, profound developmental delay, and epilepsy, including hypsarrhythmia.

Our findings extend the mutational spectrum of the bi-allelic MFSD2A variants causing autosomal recessive primary microcephaly type 15 and broaden the phenotypic spectrum associated with these pathogenic variants emphasizing the role of MFSD2A in early brain development.



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