Haploinsufficiency of PMP22 causes hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP). However, the biological functions of PMP22 in humans are largely unexplored due to the absence of patients with PMP22 null mutations.
Design, Setting and Participants
We have evaluated a 7-year-old boy with PMP22 null. Findings were compared with those from nerves of Pmp22 null mice.
Motor and sensory deficits in the proband were non-length dependent. Weakness was found in cranial muscles, but not in the limbs. Large fiber sensory modalities were profoundly abnormal, which started prior to the maturation of myelin. This is in line with the temporal pattern of PMP22 expression predominantly in cranial motor neurons and DRG during embryonic development, becoming undetectable in adulthood. Moreover, there were conspicuous maturation defects of myelinating Schwann cells that were more significant in motor nerve fibers than in sensory nerve fibers.
Taken together, these data suggest that PMP22 is important for the normal function of neurons that express PMP22 during early development, such as cranial motor neurons and spinal sensory neurons. Moreover, PMP22 deficiency differentially affects myelination between motor and sensory nerves, which may have contributed to the unique clinical phenotype in the patient with absence of PMP22.