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Multiple sulfatase deficiency (MSD) is a rare disorder characterized by impaired activity of all known sulfatases. The gene mutated in this disease is SUMF1, which encodes a protein involved in a post-translational modification at the catalytic site of all sulfatases that is necessary for their function. SUMF1 strongly enhances the activity of sulfatases when coexpressed with sulfatase in Cos-7 cells. We performed a mutational analysis of SUMF1 in 20 MSD patients of different ethnic origin. The clinical presentation of these patients was variable, ranging from severe neonatal forms to mild phenotypes showing mild neurological involvement. A total of 22 SUMF1 mutations were identified, including missense, nonsense, microdeletion, and splicing mutations. We expressed all missense mutations in culture to study their ability to enhance the activity of sulfatases. Of the predicted amino acid changes, 11 (p.R349W, p.R224W, p.L20F, p.A348P, p.S155P, p.C218Y, p.N259I, p.A279V, p.R349Q, p.C336R, p.A177P) resulted in severely impaired sulfatase-enhancing activity. Two (p.R345C and p.P266L) showed a high residual activity on some, but not all, of the nine sulfatases tested, suggesting that some SUMF1 mutations may have variable effects on the activity of each sulfatase. This study compares, for the first time, clinical, biochemical, and molecular data in MSD patients. Our results show lack of a direct correlation between the type of molecular defect and the severity of phenotype.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Mutat

Publication Date





576 - 581


Animals, COS Cells, Humans, Mutation, Sphingolipidoses, Sulfatases