Molecular basis of the liver and lung disease associated with the α1-antitrypsin deficiency allele M(malton)
alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency
Alpha 1-Antitrypsin (alpha 1AT) deficiency is characterized by reduced serum levels of alpha 1AT and a risk for the development of emphysema and liver disease. However, whereas there is an increased risk for emphysema associated with at least 10 alpha 1AT deficiency and null alleles, the hepatic disease is observed only in a subset of these alleles, suggesting that it is not the reduced serum levels of alpha 1AT per se which cause the liver disease. The present study characterizes the alpha 1AT deficiency allele Mmalton, an allele that like the common Z deficiency mutation (Glu342----Lys) is associated with both alpha 1AT deficiency and hepatic disease. Capitalizing on the identification of the homozygous inheritance of the rare Mmalton alpha 1AT deficiency allele, it was demonstrated that although caused by a very different mutation, the Mmalton allele shares with the Z allele the association of liver disease with the same type of abnormalities of alpha 1AT biosynthesis. Cloning of the Mmalton gene and sequence analysis demonstrated that it differs from the normal alpha 1AT M2 allele by deletion of the entire codon (TTC) for residue Phe52. Liver biopsy of the Mmalton homozygote revealed inflammation, mild fibrosis, and intrahepatocyte accumulation of alpha 1AT. Evaluation of de novo alpha 1AT biosynthesis in alpha 1AT-synthesizing cells of this individual demonstrated normal levels of alpha 1AT mRNA transcripts but abnormal intracellular accumulation of newly synthesized alpha 1AT at the level of the rough endoplasmic reticulum with consequent reduced alpha 1AT secretion. Finally, retroviral gene transfer of a normal alpha 1AT cDNA and an alpha 1AT cDNA with the Mmalton Phe52 deletion into murine cells demonstrated that the Mmalton cells reproduced the abnormal accumulation of newly synthesized alpha 1AT, thus directly demonstrating that the deletion mutation is responsible for the intracellular accumulation of the newly synthesized alpha 1AT. Thus, not only is the liver disease associated with alpha 1AT deficiency restricted to a subset of alpha 1AT deficiency alleles, it appears to be restricted to those alleles associated with intracellular accumulation of newly synthesized alpha 1AT, suggesting that it is the abnormal intrahepatocyte alpha 1AT accumulation which incites the liver injury.