Spinal neurofibromatosis (SNF) has been considered to be an alternative form of neurofibromatosis in which spinal cord tumors are the main clinical characteristic. Familial SNF has been reported, elsewhere, in three families - two linked to markers within the gene for neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and the other not linked to NF1 - but no molecular alterations have been described in these families. We describe a three-generation family that includes five members affected by SNF. All the affected members presented multiple spinal neurofibromas and cafe au lait spots, one member had cutaneous neurofibromas, and some members had other signs of NF1. Genetic analysis, performed with markers within and flanking the NF1 gene, showed segregation with the NF1 locus. Mutation analysis, performed with the protein-truncation test and SSCP/heteroduplex analysis of the whole coding region of the NF1 gene, identified a frameshift mutation (8042insA) in exon 46, which should result in a truncated NF1 protein. The 8042insA mutation was detected in all five family members with the SNF/NF1 phenotype. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a mutation in the NF1 gene has been associated with SNF. The clinical homogeneity in the severity of the disease among the affected members of the family, which is unusual in NF1, suggests that a particular property of the NF1 mutation described here, a gene closely linked to NF1, or posttranscriptional events are involved in this severe neurological phenotype.
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