Background: Mutations in protein O-mannosyltransferases (POMTs) cause a heterogeneous group of muscular dystrophies with abnormal glycosylation of α-dystroglycan (dystroglycanopathies). The wide spectrum of clinical severities ranges from Walker-Warburg syndrome (WWS), associated with brain and eye abnormalities, to mild forms of limb girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD). Objective: The aim of this study was to elucidate the impact of mutations in POMT1 on the clinical phenotype. Methods: We examined 2 patients with POMT1-associated α-dystroglycanopathy, 1 displaying a LGMD2K and 1 with a WWS phenotype. Using dermal fibroblasts, we analyzed the influence of the POMT1 mutations on the glycosylation status of α-dystroglycan, protein O-mannosyltransferase activity, and the stability of the mutant POMT1 protein. Results: We report on novel compound heterozygous mutations in POMT1 (p.L171A and p.A589VfsX38) that result in LGMD2K. We further demonstrate that a homozygous splice site mutation of a recently identified WWS patient results in POMT1 p.del77-93. Using dermal fibroblasts, we show that mannosyltransferase activity is reduced in the patients and that stability of POMT1 mutant proteins p.A589VfsX38 and p.del77-93 is significantly decreased. Conclusions: Our results suggest that dermal fibroblasts can be applied to facilitate the diagnostic analysis of dystroglycanopathy patients as well as to study the pathogenic mechanism of POMT mutations. Characterization of the POMT1 substrate protein α-dystroglycan and POMT in vitro mannosyltransferase activity shows that the severity of the clinical phenotype of the patients analyzed is inversely correlated with POMT activity.
M. Lommel, S. Çırak, T. Willer