BACKGROUND: Recessive mutations in the five eucaryotic initiation factor 2B (eIF2B) subunits have been found in leukodystrophies of variable age at onset and severity. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the clinical spectrum of eIF2B-related disorders and search for a phenotype-genotype correlation. METHODS: Ninety-three individuals (78 families) with an undetermined leukodystrophy were selected on MRI-based criteria of childhood ataxia with central hypomyelination/vanishing white matter (CACH/VWM) for EIF2B genes analysis. RESULTS: Eighty-nine percent of individuals with MRI criteria of CACH/VWM have a mutation in one of the eIF2B beta to epsilon subunits. For 83 individuals (68 families), 46 distinct mutations (90% missense) in four of the five eIF2B subunits (beta, gamma, delta, epsilon) were identified. Sixty-four percent were in the epsilon subunit, a R113H substitution was found in 71% of eIF2B epsilon-mutated families. A large clinical spectrum was observed from rapidly fatal infantile to asymptomatic adult forms. Disease severity was correlated with age at onset (p < 0.0001) but not with the type of the mutated subunit nor with the position of the mutation within the protein. Mutations R113H in the epsilon subunit and E213G in the beta subunit were significantly associated with milder forms. CONCLUSIONS: The degree of eIF2B dysfunction, which is involved in the regulation of protein synthesis during cellular stress, may play a role in the clinical expression of eIF2B-related disorders.
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