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Dystroglycanopathies: About Numerous Genes Involved in Glycosylation of One Single Glycoprotein


Dystroglycanopathies are neuromuscular disorders due to abnormal glycosylation of dystroglycan which is a cell-surface glycoprotein that acts as a receptor for extracellular matrix proteins containing laminin-G domains. The reduced ability of abnormally glycosylated α−DG to bind laminin is associated with abnormal neuronal migration and muscular dystrophy. Clinical manifestations are extremely variable, and include a wide spectrum of phenotypic severity: some mutations are associated with adult-onset Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and other mutations with a congenital onset, determining the more complex disorder Congenital Muscular Dystrophy which includes severe structural brain and eye anomalies such as Muscle-Eye-Brain Disease, Walker-Warburg Syndrome, and Fukuyama Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. So far, mutations in eighteen different genes have been identified in patients with dystroglycanopathies, all of them demonstrating autosomal recessive inheritance. Most genes code for glycosyltransferases (POMT1, POMT2, POMGNT1, LARGE, GTDC2, B4GAT1, B3GALNT2) although a minority does not (DPM1, DPM2, DPM3, DOLK, POMK, GMPPB). Others genes code for proteins of unknown function in the α−dystroglycan glycosylation (FKTN, FKRP, ISPD, and TMEM5) or α−dystroglycan itself, DAG1. The biochemical picture becomes a little bit more complete, but also more complex, with each new identified gene. In the majority of cases the identity of the defective gene cannot be predicted from the clinical phenotype. Considering the number of causative genes in dystroglycanopathies, targeted sequencing comprising genes of all glycosylation, whatever the type, would appear at present to be the best way of tackling molecular diagnosis.