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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Dermal fibroblasts in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome with the lamin A G608G mutation have dysmorphic nuclei and are hypersensitive to heat stress

Mauro Paradisi1, Dayle McClintock2, Revekka L Boguslavsky3, Christina Pedicelli1, Howard J Worman3 and Karima Djabali2*

Author Affiliations

1 VII Divisione, Dermatologia Pediatrica, Istituto Dermopatico Dell'Immacolata IRCCS, Rome, Italy

2 Department of Dermatology, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, New York, USA

3 Department of Medicine and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, New York, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2005, 6:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-6-27

Published: 27 June 2005

Abstract

Background

Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS, OMIM 176670) is a rare sporadic disorder with an incidence of approximately 1 per 8 million live births. The phenotypic appearance consists of short stature, sculptured nose, alopecia, prominent scalp veins, small face, loss of subcutaneous fat, faint mid-facial cyanosis, and dystrophic nails. HGPS is caused by mutations in LMNA, the gene that encodes nuclear lamins A and C. The most common mutation in subjects with HGPS is a de novo single-base pair substitution, G608G (GGC>GGT), within exon 11 of LMNA. This creates an abnormal splice donor site, leading to expression of a truncated protein.

Results

We studied a new case of a 5 year-old girl with HGPS and found a heterozygous point mutation, G608G, in LMNA. Complementary DNA sequencing of RNA showed that this mutation resulted in the deletion of 50 amino acids in the carboxyl-terminal tail domain of prelamin A. We characterized a primary dermal fibroblast cell line derived from the subject's skin. These cells expressed the mutant protein and exhibited a normal growth rate at early passage in primary culture but showed alterations in nuclear morphology. Expression levels and overall distributions of nuclear lamins and emerin, an integral protein of the inner nuclear membrane, were not dramatically altered. Ultrastructural analysis of the nuclear envelope using electron microscopy showed that chromatin is in close association to the nuclear lamina, even in areas with abnormal nuclear envelope morphology. The fibroblasts were hypersensitive to heat shock, and demonstrated a delayed response to heat stress.

Conclusion

Dermal fibroblasts from a subject with HGPS expressing a mutant truncated lamin A have dysmorphic nuclei, hypersensitivity to heat shock, and delayed response to heat stress. This suggests that the mutant protein, even when expressed at low levels, causes defective cell stability, which may be responsible for phenotypic abnormalities in the disease.