Hereditary inclusion body myopathy (HIBM; OMIM 600737) is a unique group of neuromuscular disorders characterized by adult onset, slowly progressive distal and proximal weakness and a typical muscle pathology including rimmed vacuoles and filamentous inclusions. The autosomal recessive form described in Jews of Persian descent is the HIBM prototype. This myopathy affects mainly leg muscles, but with an unusual distribution that spares the quadriceps. This particular pattern of weakness distribution, termed quadriceps-sparing myopathy (QSM), was later found in Jews originating from other Middle Eastern countries as well as in non-Jews. We previously localized the gene causing HIBM in Middle Eastern Jews on chromosome 9p12-13 (ref. 5) within a genomic interval of about 700 kb (ref. 6). Haplotype analysis around the HIBM gene region of 104 affected people from 47 Middle Eastern families indicates one unique ancestral founder chromosome in this community. By contrast, single non-Jewish families from India, Georgia (USA) and the Bahamas, with QSM and linkage to the same 9p12-13 region, show three distinct haplotypes. After excluding other potential candidate genes, we eventually identified mutations in the UDP-N-acetylglucosamine-2-epimerase/N-acetylmannosamine kinase (GNE) gene in the HIBM families: all patients from Middle Eastern descent shared a single homozygous missense mutation, whereas distinct compound heterozygotes were identified in affected individuals of families of other ethnic origins. Our findings indicate that GNE is the gene responsible for recessive HIBM.
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