Key Points

  • Somatic mutations in addition to Met41 substitutions can cause VEXAS

  • Impaired catalytic activity of cytoplasmic UBA1 is a new disease mechanism for VEXAS.

Somatic mutations at methionine 41 (Met41) in UBA1, encoding the major E1 enzyme responsible for initiating ubiquitylation, were recently identified as the cause of a novel autoinflammatory disease, named VEXAS (Vacuoles, E1 enzyme, X-linked, autoinflammatory, somatic). We sought to determine the prevalence of UBA1 mutations in a UK cohort of patients matching the VEXAS clinical phenotype. We identified 10 new patients with somatic mutations in UBA1, but only 8 had altered p.Met41. A novel variant, c.167C>T; p.Ser56Phe was identified, which was present in myeloid, and not lymphoid lineages and led to preferential loss of the catalytic activity of cytoplasmic UBA1. An additional novel variant, c.118-1G>C was identified at the splice acceptor site of exon 3 leading to altered splicing in vitro. Bone marrow biopsies from two patients with a Met41 substitution and the novel splice site variant were consistent with previously reported features of VEXAS. The bone marrow of the patient with the p.Ser56Phe variant was less similar, likely driven by a distinct but overlapping disease mechanism. Our study therefore confirms somatic p.Met41 substitutions in UBA1 as a major cause of VEXAS syndrome and identifies two new disease causing mutations.

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