Zellweger spectrum disorders (ZSDs) are autosomal-recessive disorders that are caused by defects in peroxisome biogenesis due to bi-allelic mutations in any of 13 different PEX genes. Here, we identified seven unrelated individuals affected with an apparent dominant ZSD in whom a heterozygous mutant PEX6 allele (c.2578C>T [p.Arg860Trp]) was overrepresented due to allelic expression imbalance (AEI). We demonstrated that AEI of PEX6 is a common phenomenon and is correlated with heterozygosity for a frequent variant in the 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of the mutant allele, which disrupts the most distal of two polyadenylation sites. Asymptomatic parents, who were heterozygous for PEX c.2578C>T, did not show AEI and were homozygous for the 3′ UTR variant. Overexpression models confirmed that the overrepresentation of the pathogenic PEX6 c.2578T variant compared to wild-type PEX6 c.2578C results in a peroxisome biogenesis defect and thus constitutes the cause of disease in the affected individuals. AEI promoting the overrepresentation of a mutant allele might also play a role in other autosomal-recessive disorders, in which only one heterozygous pathogenic variant is identified.
- peroxisomal disorder
- peroxisome biogenesis disorder
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