A 63-year-old white man of Ecuadorian origin had a subarachnoid hemorrhage at age 57 followed by numbness and paresthesia in his lower extremities. He subsequently developed sexual impotence, alternating constipation and diarrhea, urinary frequency, and difficulty in walking. Rectal biopsy revealed amyloid deposits immunohistochemically reactive with antitransthyretin antisera. Direct DNA sequencing of the transthyretin gene of the patient showed a trinucleotide deletion in exon 4. This deletion resulted in the loss of one of two valines at position 121 or 122. DNA analysis on 11 family members at risk revealed four mutant gene carriers. Plasma transthyretin levels in the mutant gene carriers measured by nephelometry were very low. Peptide sequence analysis revealed that most of plasma transthyretin was normal with only a small amount of variant protein. This is the first report of a DNA deletion in the transthyretin gene. We speculate that the loss of valine in the carboxyl terminal region of the transthyretin monomer alters stability of the tetrameric protein, which leads to rapid clearance from the plasma and amyloid deposition in the tissue.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology