Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is a severe X-linked immunodeficiency caused by mutations in the gene encoding for WASP, a key regulator of signaling and cytoskeletal reorganization in hematopoietic cells. Mutations in WASP result in a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations ranging from the relatively mild X-linked thrombocytopenia to the classic full-blown WAS phenotype characterized by thrombocytopenia, immunodeficiency, eczema, and high susceptibility to developing tumors and autoimmune manifestations. The life expectancy of patients affected by severe WAS is reduced, unless they are successfully cured by bone marrow transplantation from related identical or matched unrelated donors. Because many patients lack a compatible bone marrow donor, the administration of WAS gene-corrected autologous hematopoietic stem cells could represent an alternative therapeutic approach. In the present review, we focus on recent progress in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms contributing to the pathophysiology of WAS. Although molecular and cellular studies have extensively analyzed the mechanisms leading to defects in T, B, and dendritic cells, the basis of autoimmunity and thrombocytopenia still remains poorly understood. A full understanding of these mechanisms is still needed to further implement new therapeutic strategies for this peculiar immunodeficiency.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology