A patient with multisystem dysfunction carries a truncation mutation in human SLC12A2, the gene encoding the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter, NKCC1.


This study describes a 13-yr-old girl with orthostatic intolerance, respiratory weakness, multiple endocrine abnormalities, pancreatic insufficiency, and multiorgan failure involving the gut and bladder. Exome sequencing revealed a de novo, loss-of-function allele in SLC12A2, the gene encoding the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter-1. The 11-bp deletion in exon 22 results in frameshift (p.Val1026Phefs*2) and truncation of the carboxy-terminal tail of the cotransporter. Preliminary studies in heterologous expression systems demonstrate that the mutation leads to a nonfunctional transporter, which is expressed and trafficked to the plasma membrane alongside wild-type NKCC1. The truncated protein, visible at higher molecular sizes, indicates either enhanced dimerization or misfolded aggregate. No significant dominant-negative effect was observed. K(+) transport experiments performed in fibroblasts from the patient showed reduced total and NKCC1-mediated K(+) influx. The absence of a bumetanide effect on K(+) influx in patient fibroblasts only under hypertonic conditions suggests a deficit in NKCC1 regulation. We propose that disruption in NKCC1 function might affect sensory afferents and/or smooth muscle cells, as their functions depend on NKCC1 creating a Cl(-) gradient across the plasma membrane. This Cl(-) gradient allows the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor or other Cl(-) channels to depolarize the membrane affecting processes such as neurotransmission or cell contraction. Under this hypothesis, disrupted sensory and smooth muscle function in a diverse set of tissues could explain the patient's phenotype.