The autosomal dominant, giant-platelet disorders, May-Hegglin anomaly (MHA; MIM 155100), Fechtner syndrome (FTNS; MIM 153640) and Sebastian syndrome (SBS), share the triad of thrombocytopenia, large platelets and characteristic leukocyte inclusions ('Dohle-like' bodies). MHA and SBS can be differentiated by subtle ultrastructural leukocyte inclusion features, whereas FTNS is distinguished by the additional Alport-like clinical features of sensorineural deafness, cataracts and nephritis. The similarities between these platelet disorders and our recent refinement of the MHA (ref. 6) and FTNS (ref. 7) disease loci to an overlapping region of 480 kb on chromosome 22 suggested that all three disorders are allelic. Among the identified candidate genes is the gene encoding nonmuscle myosin heavy chain 9 (MYH9; refs 8-10), which is expressed in platelets and upregulated during granulocyte differentiation. We identified six MYH9 mutations (one nonsense and five missense) in seven unrelated probands from MHA, SBS and FTNS families. On the basis of molecular modelling, the two mutations affecting the myosin head were predicted to impose electrostatic and conformational changes, whereas the truncating mutation deleted the unique carboxyterminal tailpiece. The remaining missense mutations, all affecting highly conserved coiled-coil domain positions, imparted destabilizing electrostatic and polar changes. Thus, our results suggest that mutations in MYH9 result in three megakaryocyte/platelet/leukocyte syndromes and are important in the pathogenesis of sensorineural deafness, cataracts and nephritis.
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