April 12, 2013
Scientists Discover Gene Mutation That Causes Children To Be Born Without Spleen
The spleen is rarely noticed, until it is missing. In children born without this organ, that doesn't happen until they become sick with life-threatening bacterial infections. An international team of researchers led by scientists from Rockefeller's St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics and Infectious Diseases has now identified the defective gene responsible for this rare disorder. The findings, reported today in Science Express, may lead to new diagnostic tests and raises new questions about the role of this gene in the body's protein-making machinery.
Medically known as isolated congenital asplenia (ICA), this condition has only been officially documented in less than 100 cases in the medical literature. Alexandre Bolze, a visiting student in the St. Giles lab, headed by Jean-Laurent Casanova, set out to identify the gene responsible for ICA. He and his colleagues conducted an international search for ICA patients, and identified 38 affected individuals from 23 families in North and South America, Europe and Africa.
"These results are very clear, as at least 50 percent of the patients carry a mutation in RPSA," says Bolze. "Moreover, every individual carrying a coding mutation in this gene lacks a spleen."
The findings, Bolze says, are surprising because the ribosome is present in every organ of the body, not just the spleen. "These results raise many questions. They open up many research paths to understand the specific role of this protein and of the ribosome in the development of organs in humans."
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