Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) is characterized by early contractures of elbows and Achilles tendons, slowly progressive muscle wasting and weakness, and a cardiomyopathy with conduction blocks which is life-threatening. Two modes of inheritance exist, X-linked (OMIM 310300) and autosomal dominant (EDMD-AD; OMIM 181350). EDMD-AD is clinically identical to the X-linked forms of the disease. Mutations in EMD, the gene encoding emerin, are responsible for the X-linked form. We have mapped the locus for EDMD-AD to an 8-cM interval on chromosome 1q11-q23 in a large French pedigree, and found that the EMD phenotype in four other small families was potentially linked to this locus. This region contains the lamin A/C gene (LMNA), a candidate gene encoding two proteins of the nuclear lamina, lamins A and C, produced by alternative splicing. We identified four mutations in LMNA that co-segregate with the disease phenotype in the five families: one nonsense mutation and three missense mutations. These results are the first identification of mutations in a component of the nuclear lamina as a cause of inherited muscle disorder. Together with mutations in EMD (refs 5,6), they underscore the potential importance of the nuclear envelope components in the pathogenesis of neuromuscular disorders.
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