Recessive ITPA Mutations Cause an Early Infantile Encephalopathy

Sietske H. Kevelam, Jorgen Bierau, Ramona Salvarinova, Shakti Agrawal, Tomas Honzik, Dennis Visser, Marjan M. Weiss, Gajja S. Salomons, Truus E. M. Abbink, Quinten Waisfisz, Marjo S. van der Knaap*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To identify the etiology of a novel, heritable encephalopathy in a small group of patients. Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) pattern analysis was used to select patients with the same pattern. Homozygosity mapping and whole exome sequencing (WES) were performed to find the causal gene mutations. Results: Seven patients from 4 families (2 consanguineous) were identified with a similar MRI pattern characterized by T-2 signal abnormalities and diffusion restriction in the posterior limb of the internal capsule, often also optic radiation, brainstem tracts, and cerebellar white matter, in combination with delayed myelination and progressive brain atrophy. Patients presented with early infantile onset encephalopathy characterized by progressive microcephaly, seizures, variable cardiac defects, and early death. Metabolic testing was unrevealing. Single nucleotide polymorphism array revealed 1 overlapping homozygous region on chromosome 20 in the consanguineous families. In all patients, WES subsequently revealed recessive predicted loss of function mutations in ITPA, encoding inosine triphosphate pyrophosphatase (ITPase). ITPase activity in patients' erythrocytes and fibroblasts was severely reduced. Interpretation: Until now ITPA variants have only been associated with adverse reactions to specific drugs. This is the first report associating ITPA mutations with a human disorder. ITPase is important in purine metabolism because it removes noncanonical nucleotides from the cellular nucleotide pool. Toxicity of accumulated noncanonical nucleotides, leading to neuronal apoptosis and interference with proteins normally using adenosine triphosphate/guanosine triphosphate, probably explains the disease. This study confirms that combining MRI pattern recognition to define small, homogeneous patient groups with WES is a powerful approach for providing a fast diagnosis in patients with an unclassified genetic encephalopathy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-658
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

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