AMFR dysfunction causes autosomal recessive spastic paraplegia in human that is amenable to statin treatment in a preclinical model

Ruizhi Deng, Eva Medico-Salsench, Anita Nikoncuk, Reshmi Ramakrishnan, Kristina Lanko, Nikolas A. Kühn, Herma C. van der Linde, Sarah Lor-Zade, Fatimah Albuainain, Yuwei Shi, Soheil Yousefi, Ivan Capo, Evita Medici van den Herik, Marjon van Slegtenhorst, Rick van Minkelen, Geert Geeven, Monique T. Mulder, George J.G. Ruijter, Dieter Lütjohann, Edwin H. JacobsHenry Houlden, Alistair T. Pagnamenta, Kay Metcalfe, Adam Jackson, Siddharth Banka, Lenika De Simone, Abigail Schwaede, Nancy Kuntz, Timothy Blake Palculict, Safdar Abbas, Muhammad Umair, Mohammed AlMuhaizea, Dilek Colak, Hanan AlQudairy, Maysoon Alsagob, Catarina Pereira, Roberta Trunzo, Vasiliki Karageorgou, Aida M. Bertoli-Avella, Peter Bauer, Arjan Bouman, Lies H. Hoefsloot, Tjakko J. van Ham, Mahmoud Issa, Maha S. Zaki, Joseph G. Gleeson, Rob Willemsen, Namik Kaya, Stefan T. Arold, Reza Maroofian, Leslie E. Sanderson, Tahsin Stefan Barakat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSP) are rare, inherited neurodegenerative or neurodevelopmental disorders that mainly present with lower limb spasticity and muscle weakness due to motor neuron dysfunction. Whole genome sequencing identified bi-allelic truncating variants in AMFR, encoding a RING-H2 finger E3 ubiquitin ligase anchored at the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), in two previously genetically unexplained HSP-affected siblings. Subsequently, international collaboration recognized additional HSP-affected individuals with similar bi-allelic truncating AMFR variants, resulting in a cohort of 20 individuals from 8 unrelated, consanguineous families. Variants segregated with a phenotype of mainly pure but also complex HSP consisting of global developmental delay, mild intellectual disability, motor dysfunction, and progressive spasticity. Patient-derived fibroblasts, neural stem cells (NSCs), and in vivo zebrafish modeling were used to investigate pathomechanisms, including initial preclinical therapy assessment. The absence of AMFR disturbs lipid homeostasis, causing lipid droplet accumulation in NSCs and patient-derived fibroblasts which is rescued upon AMFR re-expression. Electron microscopy indicates ER morphology alterations in the absence of AMFR. Similar findings are seen in amfra-/- zebrafish larvae, in addition to altered touch-evoked escape response and defects in motor neuron branching, phenocopying the HSP observed in patients. Interestingly, administration of FDA-approved statins improves touch-evoked escape response and motor neuron branching defects in amfra-/- zebrafish larvae, suggesting potential therapeutic implications. Our genetic and functional studies identify bi-allelic truncating variants in AMFR as a cause of a novel autosomal recessive HSP by altering lipid metabolism, which may potentially be therapeutically modulated using precision medicine with statins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • AMFR
  • Cholesterol metabolism
  • Genetics
  • Hereditary spastic paraplegia
  • Neurology
  • Precision medicine
  • Statin
  • Whole genome sequencing
  • Zebrafish disease modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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