Menkes disease is an X-linked disorder of copper metabolism caused by mutations in the ATP7A gene. Whereas most of the patients exhibit a severe classical form, about 9% of the patients exhibit a milder form of Menkes disease. The mildest form is called occipital horn syndrome (OHS). Mutations in the ATP7A gene can be identified in 95-98% of the Menkes disease patients by standard screening techniques. Investigation of RNA isolated from the fibroblasts of eleven patients with no identified mutations was performed, and revealed inclusion of new pseudo-exons into the ATP7A mRNA from three unrelated patients: two patients with OHS and one patient with classical Menkes disease. The pseudo-exons were inserted between exons 10 and 11, between exons 16 and 17 and between exons 14 and 15 in the three patients, as a result of deep intronic mutations. This is the first time the activation of pseudo-exons is demonstrated in the ATP7A gene, and it demonstrates the usefulness of RNA analysis, in terms of revealing disease-causing mutations in noncoding regions. The fact that three different mutations cause disease by the activation of pseudo-exon inclusion also indicates that in Menkes disease this is an important mechanism, which has hitherto been overlooked.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 4 September 2013; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.191.
European Journal of Human Genetics : Ejhg, 2014, Vol 22, p. 517-21