Menkes disease is an X-linked recessive neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from mutation in a copper-transporting ATPase gene. Menkes disease can be detected by relatively high concentrations of dopamine (DA) and its metabolites compared to norepinephrine (NE) and its metabolites, presumably because dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) requires copper as a co-factor. The relative diagnostic efficiencies of levels of catechol analytes, alone or in combination, in neonates at genetic risk of Menkes disease have been unknown.
Plasma from 44 at-risk neonates less than 30 days old were assayed for DA, NE, and other catechols. Of the 44, 19 were diagnosed subsequently with Menkes disease, and 25 were unaffected.
Compared to unaffected at-risk infants, those with Menkes disease had high plasma DA (P < 10−6) and low NE (P < 10−6) levels. Considered alone, neither DA nor NE levels had perfect sensitivity, whereas the ratio of DA:NE was higher in all affected than in all unaffected subjects (P = 2 × 10−8). Analogously, levels of the DA metabolite, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and the NE metabolite, dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG), were imperfectly sensitive, whereas the DOPAC:DHPG ratio was higher in all affected than in all unaffected subjects (P = 2 × 10−4). Plasma dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and the ratio of epinephrine (EPI):NE levels were higher in affected than in unaffected neonates (P = 0.0015; P = 0.013).
Plasma DA:NE and DOPAC:DHPG ratios are remarkably sensitive and specific for diagnosing Menkes disease in at-risk newborns. Affected newborns also have elevated DOPA and EPI:NE ratios, which decreased DBH activity alone cannot explain.
Menkes; Dopamine; Norepinephrine; Dopamine-β-hydroxylase; DHPG; DOPAC; Diagnosis
Menkes disease is a lethal neurodegenerative disorder of infancy caused by mutations in a copper-transporting ATPase gene, ATP7A. Among its multiple cellular tasks, ATP7A transfers copper to dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) within the lumen of the Golgi network or secretory granules, catalyzing the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine. In a well-established mouse model of Menkes disease, mottled-brindled, we tested whether systemic administration of L-threo-dihydroxyphenylserine (L-DOPS), a drug used successfully to treat autosomal recessive norepinephrine deficiency, would improve brain neurochemical abnormalities and neuropathology.
At 8, 10, and 12 days of age, wild type and mo-br mice received intraperi-toneal injections of 200μg/g body weight of L-DOPS, or mock solution. Five hours after the final injection, the mice were euthanized and brains removed. We measured catecholamine metabolites affected by DBH via high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection, and assessed brain histopathology.
Compared to mock-treated controls, mo-br mice that received intraperitoneal L-DOPS showed significant increases in brain norepinephrine (P<0.001) and its deaminated metabolite, dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG, P<0.05). The ratio of a non-beta-hydroxylated metabolite in the catecholamine biosynthetic pathway, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, to the beta-hydroxylated metabolite, dihydroxyphenylglycol, improved equivalently to results obtained previously with brain-directed ATP7A gene therapy (P<0.01). However, L-DOPS treatment did not arrest global brain pathology or improve somatic growth, as gene therapy had.
We conclude that 1) L-DOPS crosses the blood-brain barrier in mo-br mice and corrects brain neurochemical abnormalities, 2) norepinephrine deficiency is not the cause of neurodegeneration in mo-br mice, and 3) L-DOPS treatment may ameliorate noradrenergic hypofunction in Menkes disease.
Pronounced intrafamilial variability is unusual in Menkes disease and its variants. We report two unrelated families featuring affected members with unusually disparate clinical and biochemical phenotypes and explore the underlying molecular mechanisms.
We measured biochemical markers of impaired copper transport in five patients from two unrelated families and used RNase protection, quantitative reverse transcription (RT)‐PCR, Western blot analysis and yeast complementation studies to characterise two ATP7A missense mutations, A1362D and S637L.
In two brothers (family A) with A1362D, RNase protection and Western blot analyses revealed higher amounts of ATP7A transcript and protein in the older, mildly affected patient, who also had a higher plasma copper level and lower cerebrospinal fluid dihydroxyphenylalanine : dihydroxyphenylglycol ratio. These findings indicate greater gastrointestinal absorption of copper and higher activity of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase, a copper‐dependent enzyme, respectively. In family B, three males with a missense mutation (S637L) in an exon 8 splicing enhancer showed equally reduced amounts of ATP7A transcript and protein by quantitative RT‐PCR and western blot analysis, respectively, despite a more severe phenotype in the youngest. This patient's medical history was notable for cardiac arrest as a neonate, to which we attribute his more severe neurodevelopmental outcome.
These families illustrate that genetic and non‐genetic mechanisms may underlie intrafamilial variability in Menkes disease and its variants.
Menkes disease; intrafamilial variation; gene expression, ATP7A; residual copper transport
Menkes disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of infancy caused by defects in an X-linked copper transport gene, ATP7A. Evidence from a recent clinical trial indicates that favorable response to early treatment of this disorder with copper injections involves mutations that retain some copper transport capacity. In three unrelated infants, we identified the same mutation, G727R, in the second transmembrane segment of the ATP7A gene product that complemented a S. cerevisiae copper transport mutant, consistent with partial copper transport activity. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction studies showed approximately normal levels of ATP7AG727R transcript in two patients’ fibroblasts compared to wild type controls, but Western blot analyses showed markedly reduced quantities of ATP7A protein, suggesting post-translational degradation. We confirmed the latter by comparing degradation rates of mutant and wild type ATP7A via cyclohexamide treatment of cultured fibroblasts; half-life of the G727R mutant was 2.9 hr and for the wild-type, 11.4 hr. We also documented a X-box binding protein 1 splice variant in G727R cells - known to be associated with the cellular misfolded protein response. Patient A, diagnosed 6 months of age, began treatment at 228 days (7.6 mos) of age. At his current age (2 years), his overall neurodevelopment remains at a 2 to 4 month level. In contrast, patients B and C were diagnosed in the neonatal period, began treatment within 25 days of age, and show near normal neurodevelopment at their current ages, 3 years (B), and 7 months (C). The poor clinical outcome in patient A with the same missense mutation as patients A and B with near normal oucomes, confirms the importance of early medical intervention in Menkes disease and highlights the critical potential benefit of newborn screening for this disorder.
The ATP7A gene encodes the ATP7A protein, which is a trans-Golgi network copper transporter expressed in the brain and other organs. Mutations in this gene cause disorders of copper metabolism, such as Menkes disease. Here we describe the novel and unusual mutation (p.T1048I) in the ATP7A gene of a child with Menkes disease. The mutation affects a conserved DKTGT1048 phosphorylation motif that is involved in the catalytic activity of ATP7A. We also describe the clinical course and the response to copper treatment in this patient.
An 11-month-old male Caucasian infant was studied because of hypotonia, ataxia and global developmental delay. The patient presented low levels of serum copper and ceruloplasmin, and was shown to be hemizygous for the p.T1048I mutation in ATP7A. The diagnosis was confirmed when the patient was 18 months old, and treatment with copper-histidinate (Cu-His) was started immediately. The patient showed some neurological improvement and he is currently 8 years old. Because the p.T1048I mutation affects its catalytic site, we expected a complete loss of functional ATP7A and a classical Menkes disease presentation. However, the clinical course of the patient was mild, and he responded to Cu-His treatment, which suggests that this mutation leads to partial conservation of the activity of ATP7A.
This case emphasizes the important correlation between genotype and phenotype in patients with Menkes disease. The prognosis in Menkes disease is associated with early detection, early initiation of treatment and with the preservation of some ATP7A activity, which is necessary for Cu-His treatment response. The description of this new mutation and the response of the patient to Cu-His treatment will contribute to the growing body of knowledge about treatment response in Menkes disease.
ATP7A; Menkes disease; Copper transporter; Cu-His treatment
Menkes disease is a lethal X-linked recessive neurodegenerative disorder of copper transport caused by mutations in ATP7A, which encodes a copper-transporting ATPase. Early postnatal treatment with copper injections often improves clinical outcomes in affected infants. While Menkes disease newborns appear normal neurologically, analyses of fetal tissues including placenta indicate abnormal copper distribution and suggest a prenatal onset of the metal transport defect. In an affected fetus whose parents found termination unacceptable and who understood the associated risks, we began in utero copper histidine treatment at 31.5 weeks gestational age. Copper histidine (900 μg per dose) was administered directly to the fetus by intramuscular injection (fetal quadriceps or gluteus) under ultrasound guidance. Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling enabled serial measurement of fetal copper and ceruloplasmin levels that were used to guide therapy over a four-week period. Fetal copper levels rose from 17 μg/dL prior to treatment to 45 μg/dL, and ceruloplasmin levels from 39 mg/L to 122 mg/L. After pulmonary maturity was confirmed biochemically, the baby was delivered at 35.5 weeks and daily copper histidine therapy (250 μg sc b.i.d.) was begun. Despite this very early intervention with copper, the infant showed hypotonia, developmental delay, and electroencephalographic abnormalities and died of respiratory failure at 5.5 months of age. The patient’s ATP7A mutation, which severely disrupted mRNA splicing, resulted in complete absence of ATP7A protein on Western blots. These investigations suggest that prenatally initiated copper replacement is inadequate to correct Menkes disease caused by severe loss-of-function mutations, and that postnatal ATP7A gene addition represents a rational approach in such circumstances.
Copper is an essential trace element that plays a critical role in the survival of all living organisms. Menkes disease and occipital horn syndrome (OHS) are allelic disorders of copper transport caused by defects in a X-linked gene (ATP7A) that encodes a P-type ATPase that transports copper across cellular membranes, including the trans-Golgi network. Genetic studies in yeast recently revealed a new family of cytoplasmic proteins called copper chaperones which bind copper ions and deliver them to specific cellular pathways. Biochemical studies of the human homolog of one copper chaperone, ATOX1, indicate direct interaction with the Menkes/OHS protein. Although no disease-associated mutations have been reported in ATOX1, mice with disruption of the ATOX1 locus demonstrate perinatal mortality similar to that observed in the brindled mice (Mobr), a mouse model of Menkes disease. The cDNA sequence for ATOX1 is known, and the genomic organization has not been reported.
We determined the genomic structure of ATOX1. The gene contains 4 exons spanning a genomic distance of approximately 16 kb. The translation start codon is located in the 3' end of exon 1 and the termination codon in exon 3. We developed a PCR-based assay to amplify the coding regions and splice junctions from genomic DNA. We screened for ATOX1 mutations in two patients with classical Menkes disease phenotypes and one individual with occipital horn syndrome who had no alterations detected in ATP7A, as well as an adult female with chronic anemia, low serum copper and evidence of mild dopamine-beta-hydroxylase deficiency and no alterations in the ATOX1 coding or splice junction sequences were found.
In this study, we characterized the genomic structure of the human copper chaperone ATOX1 to facilitate screening of this gene from genomic DNA in patients whose clinical or biochemical phenotypes suggest impaired copper transport.
Classical Menkes disease is an X-linked recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in a P-type ATPase (ATP7A) that normally delivers copper to the developing central nervous system. Infants with large deletions, or other mutations in ATP7A that incapacitate copper transport to the brain, show poor clinical outcomes and subnormal brain copper despite early subcutaneous copper histidine (CuHis) injections. These findings suggest a need for direct central nervous system approaches in such patients. To begin to evaluate an aggressive but potentially useful new strategy for metabolic improvement of this disorder, we studied the acute and chronic effects of CuHis administered by intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection in healthy adult rats. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) after ICV CuHis showed diffuse T1-signal enhancement, indicating wide brain distribution of copper after ICV administration, and implying the utility of this paramagnetic metal as a MRI contrast agent. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of CuHis, defined as the highest dose that did not induce overt toxicity, growth retardation, or reduce lifespan, was 0.5 mcg. Animals receiving multiple infusions of this MTD showed increased brain copper concentrations, but no significant differences in activity, behavior, and somatic growth, or brain histology compared to saline-injected controls. Based on estimates of the brain copper deficit in Menkes disease patients, CuHis doses 10-fold lower than the MTD found in this study may restore proper brain copper concentration. Our results suggest that ICV CuHis administration have potential as a novel treatment approach in Menkes disease infants with severe mutations. Future trials of direct CNS copper administration in mouse models of Menkes disease will be informative.
Copper histidine; Intracerebral administration; Maximum tolerated dose; Menkes disease; Copper transport
Epilepsy is a major feature of Menkes disease, an X-linked recessive infantile neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in ATP7A, which produces a copper-transporting ATPase. Three prior surveys indicated clinical seizures and electroencephalographic (EEG) abnormalities in a combined 27 of 29 (93%) symptomatic Menkes disease patients diagnosed at 2 months of age or older. To assess the influence of earlier, presymptomatic diagnosis and treatment on seizure semiology and brain electrical activity, we evaluated 71 EEGs in 24 Menkes disease patients who were diagnosed and treated with copper injections in early infancy (≤6 weeks of age), and whose ATP7A mutations we determined. Clinical seizures were observed in only 12.5% (3/24) of these patients, although 46% (11/24) had at least one abnormal EEG tracing, including 50% of patients with large deletions in ATP7A, 50% of those with small deletions, 60% of those with nonsense mutations, and 57% of those with canonical splice junction mutations. In contrast, five patients with mutations shown to retain partial function, either via some correct RNA splicing or residual copper transport capacity, had neither clinical seizures nor EEG abnormalities. Our findings suggest that early diagnosis and treatment improve brain electrical activity and decrease seizure occurrence in classical Menkes disease irrespective of the precise molecular defect. Subjects with ATP7A mutations that retain some function seem particularly well protected by early intervention against the possibility of epilepsy.
Copper is an essential trace element required by all living organisms. Excess amounts of copper, however, results in cellular damage. Disruptions to normal copper homeostasis are hallmarks of three genetic disorders: Menkes disease, occipital horn syndrome, and Wilson’s disease.
Menkes disease and occipital horn syndrome are characterized by copper deficiency. Typical features of Menkes disease result from low copper-dependent enzyme activity. Standard treatment involves parenteral administration of copper-histidine. If treatment is initiated before 2 months of age, neurodegeneration can be prevented, while delayed treatment is utterly ineffective. Thus, neonatal mass screening should be implemented. Meanwhile, connective tissue disorders cannot be improved by copper-histidine treatment. Combination therapy with copper-histidine injections and oral administration of disulfiram is being investigated. Occipital horn syndrome characterized by connective tissue abnormalities is the mildest form of Menkes disease. Treatment has not been conducted for this syndrome.
Wilson’s disease is characterized by copper toxicity that typically affects the hepatic and nervous systems severely. Various other symptoms are observed as well, yet its early diagnosis is sometimes difficult. Chelating agents and zinc are effective treatments, but are inefficient in most patients with fulminant hepatic failure. In addition, some patients with neurological Wilson’s disease worsen or show poor response to chelating agents. Since early treatment is critical, a screening system for Wilson’s disease should be implemented in infants. Patients with Wilson’s disease may be at risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma. Understanding the link between Wilson’s disease and hepatocellular carcinoma will be beneficial for disease treatment and prevention.
Menkes disease; Wilson’s disease; occipital horn syndrome; ATP7A; ATP7B; disulfiram; zinc; trientine.
Menkes disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder in infants caused by mutations in the gene ATP7A which encodes a copper (Cu) transporter. Defects in ATP7A lead to accumulated copper in the small intestine and kidneys and to copper deficiencies in the brain and the liver. The copper level in the kidney in postnatal copper-treated Menkes patients may reach toxic levels. The mouse model, mosaic Atp7a mo-ms recapitulates the Menkes phenotype and die about 15.75±1.5 days of age. In the present study we found that prenatal treatment of mosaic murine fetuses throughout gestation days 7, 11, 15 and 18 with a combination of CuCl2 (50 mg/kg) and dimethyldithiocarbamate (DMDTC) (280 mg/kg) leads to an increase in survival to about 76±25.3 days, whereas treatment with CuCl2 alone (50 mg/kg) only leads to survival for about 21 days ±5 days. These copper-DMDTC treated mutants showed an improved locomotor activity performance and a gain in body mass. In contrast to treatment with CuCl2 alone, a significant increase in the amount of copper was observed in the brain after prenatal copper-DMDTC treatment as well as a decrease in the amount of accumulated copper in the kidney, both leading towards a normalization of the copper level. Although copper-DMDTC prenatal treatment only leads to a small increase in the sub-normal copper concentration in the liver and to an increase of copper in the already overloaded small intestine, the combined results suggest that prenatal copper-DMDTC treatment also should be considered for humans.
ATP7A is a copper-transporting ATPase critical for central and peripheral nervous system function. Mutations in ATP7A cause Menkes disease and occipital horn syndrome (OHS), allelic X-linked recessive conditions that feature vascular abnormalities ascribed to low activity of lysyl oxidase, a copper-dependent enzyme. From a recently created Menkes disease/OHS patient registry, we identified 4 of 95 subjects with major congenital heart defects (4.2%), a proportion exceeding the general population prevalence (≈1%). In conjunction with mouse models of Menkes disease, OHS, and lysyl oxidase deficiency, which feature aortic aneurysms, irregular attachment between vascular endothelium and mesoderm and other defects of embryological development, our observation suggests an important role of copper metabolism in cardiac development. Congenital heart disease may be an under-appreciated abnormality in Menkes disease, and should be considered in a broad differential diagnosis of cardiac defects found prenatally in male fetuses. Conversely, newborn infants with suspected or confirmed Menkes disease should be evaluated for heart disease by careful clinical examination and echocardiography, if indicated.
ATP7A; congenital heart disease; lysyl oxidase; Menkes disease; occipital horn syndrome
Menkes disease is an X linked recessive disorder of copper metabolism characterised by neurological symptoms and connective tissue manifestations. The defective gene in Menkes disease has recently been isolated and the gene product is predicted to be a copper transporting ATPase. The diagnosis of Menkes disease has hitherto been performed by biochemical analysis, based on intracellular accumulation of copper. Cloning the gene opened up the possibility of establishing precise and reliable carrier and prenatal diagnosis by defining the molecular defect. In this report we describe the partial deletion of the Menkes gene in a patient who had inherited the mutation from his phenotypically normal mother. This information enabled us to perform prenatal diagnosis by direct mutation analysis of the mother's sixth pregnancy and we detected the same deletion, indicating that the male fetus was affected. This first prenatal diagnosis of Menkes disease by direct mutation analysis shows some advantages of DNA analysis compared to biochemical diagnosis.
Menkes disease is an infantile-onset X-linked recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by diverse mutations in a copper-transport gene, ATP7A. Affected patients are characterized by progressive hypotonia, seizures, failure to thrive and death in early childhood. Here, we report a case of Menkes disease presented by intractable seizures and infantile spasms. A 3-month-old male infant had visited our pediatric clinic for lethargy, floppy muscle tone, poor oral intake and partial seizures. His hair was kinky, brown colored and fragile. Partial seizures became more frequent, generalized and intractable to antiseizure medications. An EEG showed frequent posteriorly dominant generalized spikes that were consistent with a generalized seizure. From a genetic analysis, a c.2743C>T (p.Gln915X) mutation was detected and diagnosed as Menkes disease. The mutation is a novel one that has not been previously reported as a cause of Menkes disease.
Menkes Disease; MNK Gene; ATP7A Mutation
Copper is a redox active metal that is essential for biological function. Copper is potentially toxic; thus, its homeostasis is carefully regulated through a system of protein transporters. Copper is taken up across the lumen surface of the small intestinal microvilli as cuprous ion by Ctr1. Cupric ion may also be taken up, but those processes are less well understood. Within the cell, intestinal as well as others, copper is escorted to specific compartments by metallo-chaperones. One, CCS, donates copper to superoxide dismutase. Another, COX17, delivers copper to additional chaperones within the mitochondria for synthesis of cytochrome c oxidase. A third chaperone, Atox1, delivers copper to the secretory pathway by docking with 2 P-type ATPases. One, ATP7A, is the protein nonfunctional in Menkes disease. This protein is required for cuproenzyme biosynthesis, and in the enterocyte it is required for copper efflux to portal blood. The second, ATP7B, predominantly expressed in liver, is required for copper metallation of ceruloplasmin and biliary copper excretion. Mutations in ATP7B lead to Wilson disease. Additional intracellular hepatic copper-binding proteins COMMD1 (copper metabolism MURR1 domain) and XIAP (X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein) may also be required for excretion. Other proteins involved in copper homeostasis may include metallothionein and amyloid precursor protein. Plasma protein transport of copper from the intestine to liver and in systemic circulation probably includes both albumin and α2-macroglobulin. Changes in the expression of copper “transporters” may be useful to monitor copper status of humans, provided a suitable cell type can be sampled.
Pediatric neck masses should trigger a high index of suspicion for certain genetic disorders of connective tissue. To highlight this, we report on three infants with Menkes disease, an inherited disorder of copper transport, who developed large, unilateral neck masses at between 7 and 17 months of age. All were identified in imaging studies as internal jugular phlebectasia. The masses, which enlarged on crying or exertion, have remained clinically benign in these patients for 20, 17 and 2 months, respectively. While arterial tortuosity and aneurysms have been reported often in Menkes disease, venous phlebectasia has rarely been described. We speculate that low activity of the copper-dependent enzyme, lysyl oxidase, leading to reduced tensile strength in the deep cervical fascia comprising the carotid sheath may predispose to internal jugular phlebectasia in these individuals. Improved survival and neurological outcomes in infants with Menkes disease due to advances in early diagnosis and treatment may be associated with recognition of novel clinical stigmata of this condition such as internal jugular phlebectasia.
internal jugular phlebectasia; venous aneurysm; neck mass; Menkes disease
Menkes disease is an X-linked recessive disorder of copper transport caused by mutations in ATP7A, a copper-transporting ATPase. Certain radiologic findings reported in this condition overlap with those caused by child abuse. However, cervical spine defects simulating cervical spine fracture, a known result of nonaccidental pediatric trauma, have not been reported previously in this illness.
To assess the frequency of cervical spine anomalies in Menkes disease after discovery of an apparent C2 posterior arch defect in a child participating in a clinical trial.
Materials and methods
We examined cervical spine radiographs obtained in 35 children with Menkes disease enrolled in a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.
Four of the 35 children with Menkes disease had apparent C2 posterior arch defects consistent with spondylolysis or incomplete/delayed ossification.
Defects in C2 were found in 11% of infants and young children with Menkes disease. Discovery of cervical spine defects expands the spectrum of radiologic findings associated with this condition. As with other skeletal abnormalities, this feature simulates nonaccidental trauma. In the context of Menkes disease, suspicions of child abuse should be considered cautiously and tempered by these findings to avoid unwarranted accusations.
Menkes disease; Cervical spine; Bone abnormalities; Copper metabolism
Menkes disease is an X-linked multisystem disorder characterized by early onset of cerebral and cerebellar neurodegeneration, fair skin, hypopigmented sparse hair and connective tissue abnormalities.
We aimed to evaluate the clinical, electrophysiological and radiological features of children with Menkes disease seen at our institute.
The medical records of children diagnosed with Menkes disease admitted in the pediatric neurology ward or attending the special pediatric neurology clinic at a tertiary care and a referral hospital in North India, from January 2010 to December 2012, were retrospectively reviewed. The clinical data of each case was subsequently summarized and reported.
Statistical analysis used:
Descriptive statistics were used.
During the study period, 1174 children were seen. Out of these, 6 cases were diagnosed as Menkes disease on the basis of clinical phenotype, low serum copper and ceruloplasmin and supportive neuroimaging. All the children were males and had disease onset within 3 months of age, with 4 children presenting in the neonatal period. Global developmental delay and refractory seizures were the predominant clinical symptoms. Two children had symptomatic West syndrome. Other seizure semiologies included tonic-clonic (4), myoclonic (2) and tonic seizures (1). The electroencephalographic abnormalities included hypsarrythmia (2) and multifocal epileptiform discharges (3). The salient radiological features included white matter changes, temporal lobe abnormalities, global atrophy, subdural hygromas and tortuous cerebral blood vessels.
Menkes disease should be suspected in a case of refractory early onset seizures especially in the presence of subtle clinical clues. The neuroimaging findings may further support the diagnosis.
Epileptic spasms; leukodystrophy; Menkes disease; neonatal seizures; subdural hygromas
Defects in the mammalian Menkes and Wilson copper transporting P-type ATPases cause severe copper homeostasis disease phenotypes in humans. Here, we find that DmATP7, the sole Drosophila orthologue of the Menkes and Wilson genes, is vital for uptake of copper in vivo. Analysis of a DmATP7 loss-of-function allele shows that DmATP7 is essential in embryogenesis, early larval development, and adult pigmentation and is probably required for copper uptake from the diet. These phenotypes are analogous to those caused by mutation in the mouse and human Menkes genes, suggesting that like Menkes, DmATP7 plays at least two roles at the cellular level: delivering copper to cuproenzymes required for pigmentation and neuronal function and removing excess cellular copper via facilitated efflux. DmATP7 displays a dynamic and unexpected expression pattern in the developing embryo, implying novel functions for this copper pump and the lethality observed in DmATP7 mutant flies is the earliest seen for any copper homeostasis gene.
The primary mechanism of copper transport to the brain is unknown, although this process is drastically impaired in Menkes disease, an X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder caused by mutations in an evolutionarily conserved copper transporter, ATP7A. Potential central nervous system entry routes for copper include brain capillary endothelial cells that originate from mesodermal angioblasts and form the blood-brain barrier, and the choroid plexuses, which derive from embryonic ectoderm, and form the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier. We exploited a rare (and first reported) example of somatic mosaicism for an ATP7A mutation to shed light on questions about copper transport into the developing brain. In a 20-month-old Menkes disease patient evaluated before copper treatment, blood copper and catecholamine concentrations were normal, whereas levels in cerebrospinal fluid were abnormal and consistent with his neurologically severe phenotype. We documented disparate levels of mosaicism for an ATP7A missense mutation, P1001L, in tissues derived from different embryonic origins; allele quantitation showed P1001L in approximately 27% and 88% of DNA samples from blood cells (mesoderm-derived) and cultured fibroblasts (ectoderm-derived), respectively. These findings imply that the P1001L mutation in the patient preceded formation of the three primary embryonic lineages at gastrulation, with the ectoderm layer ultimately harboring a higher percentage of mutation-bearing cells than mesoderm or endoderm. Since choroid plexus epithelia are derived from neuroectoderm, and brain capillary endothelial cells from mesodermal angioblasts, the clinical and biochemical findings in this infant support a critical role for the blood-CSF barrier (choroid plexus epithelia) in copper entry to the developing brain.
Somatic mosaicism; Menkes disease; ATP7A; copper metabolism; choroid plexus
Owing to mutations in the copper‐transporting P‐type ATPase, ATP7A (or MNK), patients with Menkes disease (MD) have an inadequate supply of copper to various copper‐dependent enzymes. The ATP7A protein is located in the trans‐Golgi network, where it transports copper via secretory compartments to copper‐dependent enzymes. Raised copper concentrations result in the trafficking of ATP7A to the plasma membrane, where it functions in copper export. An important model of MD is the Mottled mouse, which possesses mutations in Atp7A. The Mottled mouse displays three distinct phenotypic severities: embryonic lethal, perinatal lethal and a longer‐lived viable phenotype. However, the effects of mutations from these phenotypic classes on the ATP7A protein are unknown. In this study, we found that these classes of mutation differentially affect the copper transport and trafficking functions of the ATP7A protein. The embryonic lethal mutation, Atp7amo11H (11H), caused mislocalisation of the protein to the endoplasmic reticulum, impaired glycosylation, and abolished copper delivery to the secretory pathway. In contrast, the perinatal lethal and viable mutations, Atp7amoMac (Macular) and Atp7amoVbr (Viable brindle) both resulted in a reduction in copper delivery to the secretory pathway and constitutive trafficking of the ATP7A protein to the plasma membrane in the absence of additional copper. In the case of Viable brindle, this hypertrafficking response was dependent on the catalytic phosphorylation site of ATP7A, whereas no such requirement was found for the Macular mutation. These findings provide evidence that the degree of MD severity in mice is associated with both copper transport and trafficking defects in the ATP7A protein.
Menkes disease; mottled mice; copper; ATP7A; protein trafficking
Menkes disease (MD) is a lethal multisystemic disorder of copper metabolism. Progressive neurodegeneration and connective tissue disturbances, together with the peculiar ‘kinky' hair are the main manifestations. MD is inherited as an X-linked recessive trait, and as expected the vast majority of patients are males. MD occurs due to mutations in the ATP7A gene and the vast majority of ATP7A mutations are intragenic mutations or partial gene deletions. ATP7A is an energy dependent transmembrane protein, which is involved in the delivery of copper to the secreted copper enzymes and in the export of surplus copper from cells. Severely affected MD patients die usually before the third year of life. A cure for the disease does not exist, but very early copper-histidine treatment may correct some of the neurological symptoms.
Menkes disease; ATP7A; copper
Mutations in the copper-transporter ATP7A lead to severe neurodegeneration in the mottled brindled hemizygous male (MoBr/y) mouse and human patients with Menkes disease. Our earlier studies demonstrated cell-type and stage-specific changes in ATP7A protein expression during postnatal neurodevelopment. Here we examined copper and cuproenzyme levels in MoBr/y mice to search for compensatory responses. While all MoBr/y neocortical subcellular fractions had decreased copper levels, the greatest decrease (8-fold) was observed in cytosol. Immunostaining for ATP7A revealed decreased levels in MoBr/y hippocampal pyramidal and cerebellar Purkinje neurons. In contrast, an upregulation of ATP7A protein occurred in MoBr/y endothelial cells, perhaps to compensate for a lack of copper in the neuropil. MoBr/y astrocytes and microglia increased their physical association with the blood-brain barrier. No alterations in ATP7A levels were observed in ependymal cells, arguing for specificity in the alteration observed at the blood-brain barrier. The decreased expression of ATP7A protein in MoBr/y Purkinje cells was associated with impaired synaptogenesis and dramatic cytoskeletal dysfunction. Immunoblotting failed to reveal any compensatory increase in levels of ATP7B. While total levels of several cuproenzymes (peptide amidating monooxygenase, SOD1, SOD3) were unaltered in the MoBr/y brain, levels of amidated cholecystokinin (CCK8) and amidated pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP38) were reduced in a tissue-specific fashion. The compensatory changes observed in the neurovascular unit provide insight into the success of copper injections within a defined neurodevelopmental period.
Menkes disease (MD) is an X-linked, fatal neurodegenerative disorder of copper metabolism, caused by mutations in the ATP7A gene. Thirty-three Menkes patients in whom no mutation had been detected with standard diagnostic tools were screened for exon duplications in the ATP7A gene.
The ATP7A gene was screened for exon duplications using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). The expression level of ATP7A was investigated by real-time PCR and detailed analysis of the ATP7A mRNA was performed by RT-PCR followed by sequencing. In order to investigate whether the identified duplicated fragments originated from a single or from two different X-chromosomes, polymorphic markers located in the duplicated fragments were analyzed.
Partial ATP7A gene duplication was identified in 20 unrelated patients including one patient with Occipital Horn Syndrome (OHS). Duplications in the ATP7A gene are estimated from our material to be the disease causing mutation in 4% of the Menkes disease patients. The duplicated regions consist of between 2 and 15 exons. In at least one of the cases, the duplication was due to an intra-chromosomal event. Characterization of the ATP7A mRNA transcripts in 11 patients revealed that the duplications were organized in tandem, in a head to tail direction. The reading frame was disrupted in all 11 cases. Small amounts of wild-type transcript were found in all patients as a result of exon-skipping events occurring in the duplicated regions. In the OHS patient with a duplication of exon 3 and 4, the duplicated out-of-frame transcript coexists with an almost equally represented wild-type transcript, presumably leading to the milder phenotype.
In general, patients with duplication of only 2 exons exhibit a milder phenotype as compared to patients with duplication of more than 2 exons. This study provides insight into exon duplications in the ATP7A gene.
The copper transporter ATP7A has attracted significant attention since the discovery of its gene mutation leading to human Menkes disease. We previously reported that ATP7A is highly expressed in the human vasculature and identified a novel vascular function of ATP7A in modulation of the expression and activity of extracellular superoxide dismutase. We recently identified that ATP7A expression in THP-1 cells (a monocyte/macrophage model cell line) plays a role in the oxidation of low density lipoproteins, indicating that it is necessary to further investigate its expression and function in monocytes/macrophages. In the current study, we demonstrated the protein and mRNA expression of ATP7A in human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)-derived macrophages and alveolar macrophages. ATP7A was strongly co-localized with the trans-Golgi apparatus in PBMC-derived macrophages. Intracellular copper, detected by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy, was found to be distributed to the nucleus and cytoplasm in human THP-1 cells. To confirm the role of endogenous ATP7A in macrophage copper homeostasis, we performed inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in murine peritoneal macrophages, which showed markedly increased intracellular copper levels in macrophages isolated from ATP7A-deficient mice versus control mice. Moreover, the role of ATP7A in regulating macrophage responses to dermal wounds was studied by introduction of control and ATP7A-downregulated THP-1 cells into dermal wounds of nude mice. Infiltration of THP-1 cells into the wounded area (detected by expression of human macrophage markers MAC2 and CD68) was reduced in response to downregulation of ATP7A, hinting decreased macrophage accumulation subsequent to dermal wounds. In summary, alongside our previous studies, these findings indicate that human macrophage ATP7A is localized in the trans-Golgi apparatus, regulates intracellular copper levels, and mediates macrophage responses to a dermal wound.
macrophage; copper; ATP7A