Mutations in 12 different PEX genes can cause a generalized peroxisomal biogenesis disorder with clinical phenotypes ranging from Zellweger syndrome to infantile Refsum disease. To identify the specific PEX gene to be sequenced, complementation analysis is first performed in fibroblasts using catalase immunofluorescence. A patient with a relatively mild phenotype of infantile cholestasis, hypotonia and motor delay had elevated plasma very long-chain fatty acids and bile acid precursors, but fibroblast studies revealed normal or only mildly abnormal peroxisomal parameters and mosaic catalase immunofluorescence. This mosaicism persisted even when the incubation temperature was increased from 37°C to 40°C, a maneuver previously shown to abolish mosaicism by exacerbating peroxisomal dysfunction. As mosaicism precludes complementation analysis, a candidate gene approach was employed. After PEX1 sequencing was unrewarding, PEX12 sequencing revealed homozygosity for a novel c.102A>T (p.R34S) missense mutation affecting a partially conserved residue in the N-terminal region important for localization to peroxisomes. Transfection of patient fibroblasts with wild-type PEX12 cDNA confirmed that a PEX12 defect was the basis for the PBD. Homozygosity for c.102A>T was identified in a second patient of similar ethnic origin also presenting with a mild phenotype. PEX12 is a highly probable candidate gene for direct sequencing in the context of a mild clinical phenotype with mosaicism and minimally abnormal peroxisomal parameters in fibroblasts.
- Infantile Refsum disease
- Mutation analysis
- PEX12 gene
- Peroxisomal biogenesis disorder