Bernard-Soulier syndrome (B-Ss) is a rare congenital bleeding disorder caused by abnormal giant platelets, thrombocytopenia, and defective glycoprotein (GP) Ib-V-IX, the adhesion receptor for von Willebrand factor (vWF). This report describes the molecular defect in two related individuals with well-established B-Ss whose platelets exhibit decreased GPIb-IX and normal GPV on their surfaces. The GPIb-V-IX genes of the two patients were analyzed by Southern blotting, hetero-duplex analysis, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification/sequencing. A point mutation was found in codon 129 of the GPIb alpha gene that results in the substitution of proline for leucine in the first position of the fifth leucine-rich glycoprotein repeat of the mature gene product. The mutation (CTC: leucine, wild-type to CCC: proline, mutant) eliminates a Sac I restriction site, facilitating analysis of the mutation in the propositi (both homozygotes), unaffected family members (8 heterozygotes and 8 wild-type), and 58 normal controls (116 wild-type alleles). The status of the genomes was confirmed by the sequencing of platelet cDNA. The mutation does not affect transcription of the Ib-IX genes, as estimated by PCR and Northern blot analysis, but it does inhibit surface expression of the receptor as assessed by transient transfection of mutant and wild-type GPIb alpha genes into mouse Ib beta-IX L cells. Many of the cells (43%) transfected with the normal gene express surface GPIb alpha, whereas untransfected cells and those transfected with the mutant gene lack surface GPIb alpha entirely. Patient platelets were tested both for vWF binding in the presence of ristocetin and for surface GPIb-IX expression. In these instances, despite their inability to agglutinate with ristocetin and vWF, patient platelets exhibit about 40% of normal vWF binding and 40% of normal Ib-IX surface antigens. The results suggest that the described mutation (GPIb alpha: Leu129 -> Pro) affects the conformation of the GPIb-V-IX receptor, alters its availability on platelet surfaces, and causes the observed Bernard-Soulier phenotype.

This content is only available as a PDF.