Masoud Shekarabi, Nathalie Girard, Jean-Baptiste Rivière, Patrick Dion, Martin Houle, André Toulouse, Ronald G. Lafrenière, Freya Vercauteren, Pascale Hince, Janet Laganiere, Daniel Rochefort, Laurence Faivre, Mark Samuels, Guy A. Rouleau
Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type II (HSANII) is an early-onset autosomal recessive disorder characterized by loss of perception to pain, touch, and heat due to a loss of peripheral sensory nerves. Mutations in hereditary sensory neuropathy type II (HSN2), a single-exon ORF originally identified in affected families in Quebec and Newfoundland, Canada, were found to cause HSANII. We report here that HSN2 is a nervous system–specific exon of the with-no-lysine(K)–1 (WNK1) gene. WNK1 mutations have previously been reported to cause pseudohypoaldosteronism type II but have not been studied in the nervous system. Given the high degree of conservation of WNK1 between mice and humans, we characterized the structure and expression patterns of this isoform in mice. Immunodetections indicated that this Wnk1/Hsn2 isoform was expressed in sensory components of the peripheral nervous system and CNS associated with relaying sensory and nociceptive signals, including satellite cells, Schwann cells, and sensory neurons. We also demonstrate that the novel protein product of Wnk1/Hsn2 was more abundant in sensory neurons than motor neurons. The characteristics of WNK1/HSN2 point to a possible role for this gene in the peripheral sensory perception deficits characterizing HSANII.