Key Points

  • We report IKAROS allelic variants disrupting dimerization of the IKAROS family of transcription factors.

  • IKAROS dimerization mutants act through a distinctive mechanism and manifest predominantly as hematologic diseases, with limited infections.

IKAROS is a transcription factor forming homo/hetero-dimers and regulating lymphocyte development and function. Germline mutations affecting IKAROS N-terminal DNA binding domain, acting in a haploinsufficient or dominant negative manner, cause immunodeficiency. Herein we describe four germline heterozygous IKAROS variants affecting its C-terminal dimerization domain by haploinsufficiency, in four unrelated families. Index patients presented with hematologic disease consisting of cytopenias (thrombocytopenia, anemia, neutropenia)/Evans syndrome, and malignancies (T-ALL, Burkitt lymphoma). These mutations are partially or completely deficient to form homo- and hetero-dimers, but do not affect the wild type allele function. Moreover, they alter key mechanisms of IKAROS gene regulation including sumoylation, protein stability, and the recruitment of the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase complex; none of them affected the N-terminal DNA binding. These C-terminal dimerization mutations are largely associated with hematologic disorders, display dimerization haploinsufficency, incomplete clinical penetrance, and differ from previously reported allelic variants in their mechanism of action. Dimerization mutants contribute to the growing spectrum of IKAROS-associated diseases displaying a genotype-phenotype correlation.

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