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Dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome: phenotypic spectrum from infancy to adulthood

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Joanne Ng, Juan Zhen, Esther Meyer, Kevin Erreger, Yan Li, Naseebullah Kakar, Jamil Ahmad, Holger Thiele, Christian Kubisch, Nicholas L. Rider, D. Holmes Morton, Kevin A. Strauss, Erik G. Puffenberger, Daniela D’Agnano, Yair Anikster, Claudia Carducci, Keith Hyland, Michael Rotstein, Vincenzo Leuzzi, Guntram Borck, Maarten E. A. Reith, Manju A. Kurian
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu022 1107-1119 First published online: 10 March 2014

Summary

Dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome due to SLC6A3 mutations is the first inherited dopamine ‘transportopathy’ to be described, with a classical presentation of early infantile-onset progressive parkinsonism dystonia. In this study we have identified a new cohort of patients with dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome, including, most significantly, atypical presentation later in childhood with a milder disease course. We report the detailed clinical features, molecular genetic findings and in vitro functional investigations undertaken for adult and paediatric cases. Patients presenting with parkinsonism dystonia or a neurotransmitter profile characteristic of dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome were recruited for study. SLC6A3 mutational analysis was undertaken in all patients. The functional consequences of missense variants on the dopamine transporter were evaluated by determining the effect of mutant dopamine transporter on dopamine uptake, protein expression and amphetamine-mediated dopamine efflux using an in vitro cellular heterologous expression system. We identified eight new patients from five unrelated families with dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome. The median age at diagnosis was 13 years (range 1.5–34 years). Most significantly, the case series included three adolescent males with atypical dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome of juvenile onset (outside infancy) and progressive parkinsonism dystonia. The other five patients in the cohort presented with classical infantile-onset parkinsonism dystonia, with one surviving into adulthood (currently aged 34 years) and labelled as having ‘juvenile parkinsonism’. All eight patients harboured homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations in SLC6A3, of which the majority are previously unreported variants. In vitro studies of mutant dopamine transporter demonstrated multifaceted loss of dopamine transporter function. Impaired dopamine uptake was universally present, and more severely impacted in dopamine transporter mutants causing infantile-onset rather than juvenile-onset disease. Dopamine transporter mutants also showed diminished dopamine binding affinity, reduced cell surface transporter, loss of post-translational dopamine transporter glycosylation and failure of amphetamine-mediated dopamine efflux. Our data series expands the clinical phenotypic continuum of dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome and indicates that there is a phenotypic spectrum from infancy (early onset, rapidly progressive disease) to childhood/adolescence and adulthood (later onset, slower disease progression). Genotype–phenotype analysis in this cohort suggests that higher residual dopamine transporter activity is likely to contribute to postponing disease presentation in these later-onset adult cases. Dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome remains under-recognized and our data highlights that dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome should be considered as a differential diagnosis for both infantile- and juvenile-onset movement disorders, including cerebral palsy and juvenile parkinsonism.

  • dopamine
  • dopamine transporter (DAT)
  • juvenile
  • parkinsonism
  • dystonia
  • SLC6A3
  • Abbreviations
    CFT
    2β-carbomethoxy-3β-[4-fluorophenyl]-tropane
    DAT
    dopamine transporter
    DTDS
    dopamine transporter deficiency syndrome
  • This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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