Actin, one of the major filamentous cytoskeletal molecules, is involved in a variety of cellular functions. Whereas an association between muscle actin mutations and skeletal and cardiac myopathies has been well documented, reports of human disease arising from mutations of nonmuscle actin genes have been rare. We have identified a missense point mutation in the gene coding for beta -actin that results in an arginine-to-tryptophan substitution at position 183. The disease phenotype includes developmental midline malformations, sensory hearing loss, and a delayed-onset generalized dystonia syndrome in monozygotic twins. Cellular studies of a lymphoblastoid cell line obtained from an affected patient demonstrated morphological abnormalities of the actin cytoskeleton and altered actin depolymerization dynamics in response to latrunculin A, an actin monomer-sequestering drug. Resistance to latrunculin A was also observed in NIH 3T3 cells expressing the mutant actin. These findings suggest that mutations in nonmuscle actins may be associated with a broad spectrum of developmental malformations and/or neurological abnormalities such as dystonia.
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