Immune Dysfunction in Mendelian Disorders of POLA1 Deficiency

Petro Starokadomskyy, Andrea Escala Perez-Reyes, Ezra Burstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


POLA1 encodes the catalytic unit of DNA polymerase α, which together with the Primase complex launches the DNA replication process. While complete deficiency of this essential gene is presumed to be lethal, at least two conditions due to partial POLA1 deficiency have been described. The first genetic syndrome to be mapped to POLA1 was X-linked reticulate pigmentary disorder (XLPDR, MIM #301220), a rare syndrome characterized by skin hyperpigmentation, sterile multiorgan inflammation, recurrent infections, and distinct facial features. XLPDR has been shown to be accompanied by profound activation of type I interferon signaling, but unlike other interferonopathies, it is not associated with autoantibodies or classical autoimmunity. Rather, it is accompanied by marked Natural Killer (NK) cell dysfunction, which may explain the recurrent infections seen in this syndrome. To date, all XLPDR cases are caused by the same recurrent intronic mutation, which results in gene missplicing. Several hypomorphic mutations in POLA1, distinct from the XLPDR intronic mutation, have been recently reported and these mutations associate with a separate condition, van Esch–O’Driscoll syndrome (VEODS, MIM #301030). This condition results in growth retardation, microcephaly, hypogonadism, and in some cases, overlapping immunological features to those seen in XLPDR. This review summarizes our current understanding of the clinical manifestations of POLA1 gene mutations with an emphasis on its immunological consequences, as well as recent advances in understanding of its pathophysiologic basis and potential therapeutic options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • DNA polymerase alpha
  • NK cells
  • POLA1
  • interferonopathy
  • primary immunodeficiency
  • rare syndrome
  • sterile inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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