Mutations or deletions in the genes for platelet GPIb/V/IX (consisting of GPIbα, GPIbβ, GPV, GPIX) cause the bleeding disorder Bernard-Soulier syndrome. Septins are GTP-binding proteins essential for active membrane movement such as vesicle trafficking. In non-dividing cells (i.e. platelets) septins are implicated in exocytosis. Platelets from a SEPT5 knockout mouse show altered serotonin secretion and platelet aggregation suggesting that SEPT5 is involved in secretion in platelets.

We report on a 4 year old boy born to consanguineous parents who developed several life-threatening mucosal bleeding episodes (when he suffered from upper respiratory infections) and showed developmental delay. Giant platelets were present in the blood smear, and ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation was reduced indicating that the boy suffered from Bernard-Soulier syndrome. Immune transmission electron microscopy of the platelets showed reduced expression of GPIb. PCR- and Southern analysis demonstrated that exon 1 and partly exon 2 of GPIbβ was deleted on both alleles. Further experiments showed that the deletion extended 5′ from exon 1 of GPIbβ to include the whole gene coding for SEPT5 located 5′ of GPIbβ. After bone marrow transplantation from a HLA-identical unrelated donor the boy developed no further bleeding symptoms.

Conclusions: We identified a patient with Bernard-Soulier syndrome and mental retardation who had not only a homozygous deletion of exon 1 and partly exon 2 of GPIbβ but also a deletion of the whole adjacent SEPT5 gene, possibly indicating a novel contiguous gene syndrome. Whether absence of SEPT5 contributed to particularly severe bleeding symptoms and to developmental delay remains to be proven.

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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