Novel mechanisms of PIEZO1 dysfunction in hereditary xerocytosis

Edyta Glogowska, Eve R. Schneider, Yelena Maksimova, Vincent P. Schulz, Kimberly Lezon-Geyda, John Wu, Kottayam Radhakrishnan, Siobán B. Keel, Donald Mahoney, Alison M. Freidmann, Rachel A. Altura, Elena O. Gracheva, Sviatoslav N. Bagriantsev, Theodosia A. Kalfa and Patrick G. Gallagher

Key Points

  • There is heterogeneity in the clinical, laboratory, and genetic bases of HX.

  • Alterations in PIEZO1 channel kinetics, response to osmotic stress, and membrane trafficking may contribute to channel dysfunction in HX.


Mutations in PIEZO1 are the primary cause of hereditary xerocytosis, a clinically heterogeneous, dominantly inherited disorder of erythrocyte dehydration. We used next-generation sequencing–based techniques to identify PIEZO1 mutations in individuals from 9 kindreds referred with suspected hereditary xerocytosis (HX) and/or undiagnosed congenital hemolytic anemia. Mutations were primarily found in the highly conserved, COOH-terminal pore-region domain. Several mutations were novel and demonstrated ethnic specificity. We characterized these mutations using genomic-, bioinformatic-, cell biology–, and physiology-based functional assays. For these studies, we created a novel, cell-based in vivo system for study of wild-type and variant PIEZO1 membrane protein expression, trafficking, and electrophysiology in a rigorous manner. Previous reports have indicated HX-associated PIEZO1 variants exhibit a partial gain-of-function phenotype with generation of mechanically activated currents that inactivate more slowly than wild type, indicating that increased cation permeability may lead to dehydration of PIEZO1-mutant HX erythrocytes. In addition to delayed channel inactivation, we found additional alterations in mutant PIEZO1 channel kinetics, differences in response to osmotic stress, and altered membrane protein trafficking, predicting variant alleles that worsen or ameliorate erythrocyte hydration. These results extend the genetic heterogeneity observed in HX and indicate that various pathophysiologic mechanisms contribute to the HX phenotype.

  • Submitted May 19, 2017.
  • Accepted July 6, 2017.
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