The Gly571Arg mutation, associated with the autonomic and sensory disorder congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, causes the inactivation of the NTRK1/nerve growth factor receptor.
Point mutations affecting the NTRK1/TRKA gene, encoding one of the receptors for the nerve growth factor (NGF), have been detected in congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis (CIPA), a human hereditary sensory neuropathy characterized by absence of reaction to noxious stimuli and anhidrosis. To define the defect of NTRK1 in CIPA patients, we have introduced one of the previously reported mutations (Gly571Arg) into both the NTRK1 and the TRK-T3 oncogene cDNAs. The expression of the mutated constructs into COS1 cells revealed that the introduced mutation, while not affecting its correct membrane localization, rendered the NTRK1 protein unable to undergo activation upon stimulation with NGF. Similarly, the mutation abolished the constitutive activation of the TRK-T3 oncogene. Transfection into NIH3T3 and PC12 cells showed the loss of transforming and differentiating activity by the mutated constructs. Our results demonstrate clearly that the CIPA mutations cause the inactivation of the NTRK1 receptor, thus exerting a loss of function effect, and provide an experimental approach to distinguish functional mutations from genetic polymorphisms.