Alport syndrome, an inherited disorder of the kidney, eye and ear, has fascinated nephrologists, pathologists, and geneticists for nearly a century. With the recent application of molecular biochemical and genetic techniques, this mysterious disease has begun to yield some of its secrets. Alport syndrome can now be viewed as a generalized disorder of basement membranes that appears to result from mutations in an X-chromosome-encoded basement membrane collagen chain. This chain, along with two other novel collagen chains, is absent from Alport basement membranes, in contrast to the classical chains of collagen IV. Phenotypic heterogeneity in Alport syndrome probably arises from allelic mutations at a single genetic locus. The phenomenon of post-transplant anti-glomerular basement membrane nephritis may be a manifestation of specific mutations at the Alport locus that prevent synthesis of the gene's protein product and the establishment of immunological tolerance.
- Alport syndrome
- Basement membranes
- Collagen IV
- Hereditary nephritis
- Post-transplant anti-glomerular basement membrane nephritis