Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), a group of neurodegenerative diseases, are thought to be caused by an abnormal isoform of a naturally occurring protein known as cellular prion protein, PrPC. The abnormal form of prion protein, PrPSc accumulates in the brain of affected individuals. Both isoforms are encoded by the same prion protein gene (PRNP), and the structural changes occur post-translationally. Certain mutations in the PRNP gene result in genetic TSEs or increased susceptibility to TSEs.
A 70 year old woman was admitted to the hospital with severe confusion and inability to walk. Relatives recognized memory loss, gait and behavioral disturbances over a six month period prior to hospitalization. Neurological examination revealed Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) related symptoms such as incontinence, Babinski sign and myoclonus. EEG showed periodic sharp waves typical of sporadic CJD and cerebrospinal fluid analysis (CSF) was positive for the presence of the 14-3-3-protein. As the disease progressed the patient developed akinetic mutism and died in the tenth month after onset of the disease symptoms. Unfortunately, no autopsy material was available. PRNP sequencing showed the occurrence of a point mutation on one allele at codon 193, which is altered from ACC, coding for a threonine, to ATC, encoding an isoleucine (T193I).
Here we report a novel mutation of the PRNP gene found in an elderly female patient resulting in heterozygosity for isoleucine and threonine at codon 193, in which normally homozygosity for threonine is expected (T193). The patient presented typical clinical symptoms of CJD. EEG findings and the presence of the 14-3-3 protein in the CSF, contributed to CJD diagnosis, allowing the classification of this case as a probable CJD according to the World Health Organization (WHO) accepted criteria.