Homozygous UBA5 Variant Leads to Hypomyelination with Thalamic Involvement and Axonal Neuropathy

Murtadha L. Al-Saady, Charlotte S. Kaiser, Felipe Wakasuqui, G. Christoph Korenke, Quinten Waisfisz, Abeltje Polstra, Petra J. W. Pouwels, Marianna Bugiani, Marjo S. van der Knaap, Roelineke J. Lunsing, Eva Liebau, Nicole I. Wolf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The enzyme ubiquitin-like modifier activating enzyme 5 (UBA5) plays an important role in activating ubiquitin-fold modifier 1 (UFM1) and its associated cascade. UFM1 is widely expressed and known to facilitate the post-translational modification of proteins. Variants in UBA5 and UFM1 are involved in neurodevelopmental disorders with early-onset epileptic encephalopathy as a frequently seen disease manifestation. Using whole exome sequencing, we detected a homozygous UBA5 variant (c.895C > T p. [Pro299Ser]) in a patient with severe global developmental delay and epilepsy, the latter from the age of 4 years. Magnetic resonance imaging showed hypomyelination with atrophy and T2 hyperintensity of the thalamus. Histology of the sural nerve showed axonal neuropathy with decreased myelin. Functional analyses confirmed the effect of the Pro299Ser variant on UBA5 protein function, showing 58% residual protein activity. Our findings indicate that the epilepsy currently associated with UBA5 variants may present later in life than previously thought, and that radiological signs include hypomyelination and thalamic involvement. The data also reinforce recently reported associations between UBA5 variants and peripheral neuropathy.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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