Research Article| Volume 357, ISSUE 1-2, P115-118, October 15, 2015

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Behr syndrome with homozygous C19ORF12 mutation


      • We present two sisters with optic atrophy, ataxia, pyramidal signs and mental retardation.
      • This phenotype is typical for both Behr syndrome (BS) and NBIA type 4.
      • Molecular genetic studies show a homozygous mutation in the C19ORF12 gene.
      • We expand the spectrum of genetic causes of Behr syndrome.
      • Genetic testing of patients with BS should include C19ORF12 mutation screening.



      Behr syndrome, first described in 1909 by the ophthalmologist Carl Behr, is a clinical entity characterised by a progressive optic atrophy, ataxia, pyramidal signs and mental retardation. Some reported cases have been found to carry mutations in the OPA1, OPA3 or C12ORF65 genes which are known causes of pure optic atrophy or optic atrophy complicated by movement disorder.


      We present the long-term observation of two Turkish sisters with Behr syndrome. We performed neurophysiological, imaging and molecular genetic studies to identify the underlying genetic cause in our patients.


      Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain showed bilateral hypointense signals in the basal ganglia which prompted us to consider neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA) as a differential diagnosis. Molecular genetic studies revealed a homozygous mutation in the C19ORF12 gene which has been previously reported in patients with a subtype of NBIA, mitochondrial membrane protein-associated neurodegeneration (MPAN).


      We expand the spectrum of genetic causes of Behr syndrome. Genetic testing of patients presenting with Behr syndrome should include C19ORF12 mutation screening.


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