A Novel Homozygous Missense Variant in the NAGA Gene with Extreme Intrafamilial Phenotypic Heterogeneity

Fedah E. Mohamed, Mohammad Al Sorkhy, Mohammad A. Ghattas, Nuha Al-Zaabi, Aisha Al-Shamsi, Taleb M. Almansoori, Lihadh Al-Gazali, Osama Y. Al-Dirbashi, Fatma Al-Jasmi, Bassam R. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Schindler disease is a rare autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder caused by a deficiency in alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase (α-NAGA) activity due to defects in the NAGA gene. Accumulation of the enzyme’s substrates results in clinically heterogeneous symptoms ranging from asymptomatic individuals to individuals with severe neurological manifestations. Here, a 5-year-old Emirati male born to consanguineous parents presented with congenital microcephaly and severe neurological manifestations. Whole genome sequencing revealed a homozygous missense variant (c.838C>A; p.L280I) in the NAGA gene. The allele is a reported SNP in the ExAC database with a 0.0007497 allele frequency. The proband’s asymptomatic sister and cousin carry the same genotype in a homozygous state as revealed from the family screening. Due to the extreme intrafamilial heterogeneity of the disease as seen in previously reported cases, we performed further analyses to establish the pathogenicity of this variant. Both the proband and his sister showed abnormal urine oligosaccharide patterns, which is consistent with the diagnosis of Schindler disease. The α-NAGA activity was significantly reduced in the proband and his sister with 5.9% and 12.1% of the mean normal activity, respectively. Despite the activity loss, p.L280I α-NAGA processing and trafficking were not affected. However, protein molecular dynamic simulation analysis revealed that this amino acid substitution is likely to affect the enzyme’s natural dynamics and hinders its ability to bind to the active site. Functional analysis confirmed the pathogenicity of the identified missense variant and the diagnosis of Schindler disease. Extreme intrafamilial clinical heterogeneity of the disease necessitates further studies for proper genetic counseling and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase
  • Congenital microcephaly
  • Enzymatic activity
  • NAGA gene
  • Schindler disease
  • Whole genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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