Inherited bone marrow failure syndromes comprise a heterogeneous group of genetic disorders characterized by dysfunction of hematopoietic stem or progenitor cells. We present a consanguineous pedigree with two siblings with early-onset, progressive bone marrow failure (neutropenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia) associated with trigonocephaply, hyperplastic gingiva, cataract, accessory mammilla, dental changes and mild neurocognitive developmental delay. Pancytopenia at birth as well as non-compaction cardiomyopathy was observed in one of the patients.

Bone marrow histology showed marked hypocellularity with decrease of all hematopoietic cell lines but without cellular atypia, monocytosis, blast excess or fibrosis. Fanconi anemia was excluded by mitomycin C induced chromosomal breakage studies.

Immunophenotyping of peripheral blood cells showed a reduction of mature B cells, reduced switched memory B cells, whereas the level of activated B-cells and plasma blasts were increased. T cell proliferation upon PHA and specific antigens was normal.

Using whole exome sequencing in patients and both parents we could identify a single potentially disease causing homozygous stop codon mutation (NM_001085487: c.1168G>T: p.E390*) in MYSM1 (Myb-Like, SWIRM And MPN Domain-Containing Protein 1). A family with two affected patients carrying the same mutation has been reported previously (Alsultan A et al, Blood 122:3844, 2013). MYSM1 is a Histone H2A deubiquitinase that has previously been implicated in controlling hematopoietic stem cells, progenitor B cells, and NK cells in mice (Nijnik A et al, Blood 119:1370, 2012).

MYSM1 protein was absent in patients' EBV-transformed B cell lines (EBV-LCLs). MYSM1-deficient EBV-LCLs had elevated γ-H2AX levels, indicative of increased genomic instability. Upon exposure to UV light, we observed a sustained expression of p53 and phospho-p53 as well as p38 MAPK and phospho-p38 MAPK in patients' fibroblasts in comparison to fibroblasts from healthy individuals.

In view of the progressive pancytopenia, both siblings underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from 10/10 HLA-matched family donors after reduced intensity conditioning with alemtuzumab, fludarabine and treosulfan at 2 and 4 years of age, respectively. The procedure was well tolerated, and both siblings exhibit full donor hematopoietic reconstitution at 21 and 26 months after transplant.

In summary, we here identify a novel human bone marrow failure syndrome caused by MYSM1-deficiency that can be cured by allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.