Farber disease is a rare lysosomal storage disease, characterized by the accumulation of ceramide in tissues due to acid ceramidase deficiency. Here we report the identification of three novel mutations in the acid ceramidase gene from two Japanese patients. Patient 1 showed joint problems at around 10 months of age and the patient is now emaciated, with multiple nodules and mild neurological problems at 10 years of age. Patient 2 had consanguineous parents and showed joint contractures at around 8 months of age. He showed neurological symptoms around 2 years of age and died at 6 years owing to respiratory failure. The diagnosis was made clinically and was confirmed by enzymatic assay of acid ceramidase. Molecular analysis of cultured skin fibroblasts showed normal mRNA levels expressed in both patients. By direct sequencing of cDNA, missense mutations of V97E in exon 4 and G235R in exon 9 were detected in patient 1 and 96delV in exon 4 was homozygously identified in patient 2. These mutations were also confirmed in genomic DNA. Expression of mutated acid ceramidase cDNA in COS-1 cells showed acid ceramidase activity decreased to 35%, 2% and 37% of control value, respectively. We also found a new polymorphism V369I in exon 14 in the allele from the mother of patient 1. To date, 13 mutations, including our newly identified mutations, have been reported. All these mutations were genetically private and genotype-phenotype correlations could not be made.
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