A De Novo Sequence Variant in Barrier-to-Autointegration Factor Is Associated with Dominant Motor Neuronopathy
Barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF) is an essential component of the nuclear lamina. Encoded by BANF1, this DNA binding protein contributes to the regulation of gene expression, cell cycle progression, and nuclear integrity. A rare recessive BAF variant, Ala12Thr, causes the premature aging syndrome, Néstor–Guillermo progeria syndrome (NGPS). Here, we report the first dominant pathogenic BAF variant, Gly16Arg, identified in a patient presenting with progressive neuromuscular weakness. Although disease variants carry nearby amino acid substitutions, cellular and biochemical properties are distinct. In contrast to NGPS, Gly16Arg patient fibroblasts show modest changes in nuclear lamina structure and increases in repressive marks associated with heterochromatin. Structural studies reveal that the Gly16Arg substitution introduces a salt bridge between BAF monomers, reducing the conformation ensemble available to BAF. We show that this structural change increases the double-stranded DNA binding affinity of BAF Gly16Arg. Together, our findings suggest that BAF Gly16Arg has an increased chromatin occupancy that leads to epigenetic changes and impacts nuclear functions. These observations provide a new example of how a missense mutation can change a protein conformational equilibrium to cause a dominant disease and extend our understanding of mechanisms by which BAF function impacts human health.