Autosomal recessive, early-onset Parkinsonism is clinically and genetically heterogeneous. Here, we report the identification, by homozygosity mapping and exome sequencing, of a SYNJ1 homozygous mutation (p.Arg258Gln) segregating with disease in an Italian consanguineous family with Parkinsonism, dystonia, and cognitive deterioration. Response to levodopa was poor, and limited by side effects. Neuroimaging revealed brain atrophy, nigrostriatal dopaminergic defects, and cerebral hypometabolism. SYNJ1 encodes synaptojanin 1, a phosphoinositide phosphatase protein with essential roles in the postendocytic recycling of synaptic vesicles. The mutation is absent in variation databases and in ethnically matched controls, is damaging according to all prediction programs, and replaces an amino acid that is extremely conserved in the synaptojanin 1 homologues and in SAC1-like domains of other proteins. Sequencing the SYNJ1 ORF in unrelated patients revealed another heterozygous mutation (p.Ser1422Arg), predicted as damaging, in a patient who also carries a heterozygous PINK1 truncating mutation. The SYNJ1 gene is a compelling candidate for Parkinsonism; mutations in the functionally linked protein auxilin cause a similar early-onset phenotype, and other findings implicate endosomal dysfunctions in the pathogenesis. Our data delineate a novel form of human Mendelian Parkinsonism, and provide further evidence for abnormal synaptic vesicle recycling as a central theme in the pathogenesis.
By homozygosity mapping and exome sequencing in an Italian consanguineous family with early-onset Parkinsonism, we identified a disease-segregating homozygous SYNJ1 mutation.SYNJ1
encodes synaptojanin 1, a phosphoinositide phosphatase, essential for the post-endocytic recycling of synaptic vesicles. This work delineates a novel form of Mendelian Parkinsonism and provides further evidence for abnormal synaptic vesicle recycling as a central theme in the pathogenesis. We also provide a detailed description of the clinical phenotype, and structural and functional neuroimaging of this novel form.