Macrocytic anemia with abnormal erythropoiesis is a common feature of megaloblastic anemias, congenital dyserythropoietic anemias, and myelodysplastic syndromes. Here, we characterized a family with multiple female individuals who have macrocytic anemia. The proband was noted to have dyserythropoiesis and iron overload. After an extensive diagnostic evaluation that did not provide insight into the cause of the disease, whole-exome sequencing of multiple family members revealed the presence of a mutation in the X chromosomal gene ALAS2, which encodes 5′-aminolevulinate synthase 2, in the affected females. We determined that this mutation (Y365C) impairs binding of the essential cofactor pyridoxal 5′-phosphate to ALAS2, resulting in destabilization of the enzyme and consequent loss of function. X inactivation was not highly skewed in wbc from the affected individuals. In contrast, and consistent with the severity of the ALAS2 mutation, there was a complete skewing toward expression of the WT allele in mRNA from reticulocytes that could be recapitulated in primary erythroid cultures. Together, the results of the X inactivation and mRNA studies illustrate how this X-linked dominant mutation in ALAS2 can perturb normal erythropoiesis through cell-nonautonomous effects. Moreover, our findings highlight the value of whole-exome sequencing in diagnostically challenging cases for the identification of disease etiology and extension of the known phenotypic spectrum of disease.


Vijay G. Sankaran, Jacob C. Ulirsch, Vassili Tchaikovskii, Leif S. Ludwig, Aoi Wakabayashi, Senkottuvelan Kadirvel, R. Coleman Lindsley, Rafael Bejar, Jiahai Shi, Scott B. Lovitch, David F. Bishop, David P. Steensma


Download this citation for these citation managers:

Or, download this citation in these formats:

If you experience problems using these citation formats, send us feedback.