ACVR1 p.Q207E causes classic fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva and is functionally distinct from the engineered constitutively active ACVR1 p.Q207D variant.Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Oct 15; 23(20):5364-77.HM
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a disabling genetic disorder of progressive heterotopic ossification (HO). Here, we report a patient with an ultra-rare point mutation [c.619C>G, p.Q207E] located in a codon adjacent to the most common FOP mutation [c.617G>A, p.R206H] of Activin A Receptor, type 1 (ACVR1) and that affects the same intracellular amino acid position in the GS activation domain as the engineered constitutively active (c.a.) variant p.Q207D. It was predicted that both mutations at residue 207 have similar functional effects by introducing a negative charge. Transgenic p.Q207D-c.a. mice have served as a model for FOP HO in several in vivo studies. However, we found that the engineered ACVR1(Q207D-c.a.) is significantly more active than the classic FOP mutation ACVR1(R206H) when overexpressed in chicken limbs and in differentiation assays of chondrogenesis, osteogenesis and myogenesis. Importantly, our studies reveal that the ACVR1(Q207E) resembles the classic FOP receptor in these assays, not the engineered ACVR1(Q207D-c.a.). Notably, reporter gene assays revealed that both naturally occurring FOP receptors (ACVR1(R206H) and ACVR1(Q207E)) were activated by BMP7 and were sensitive to deletion of the ligand binding domain, whereas the engineered ACVR1(Q207D-c.a.) exhibited ligand independent activity. We performed an in silico analysis and propose a structural model for p.Q207D-c.a. that irreversibly relocates the GS domain into an activating position, where it becomes ligand independent. We conclude that the engineered p.Q207D-c.a. mutation has severe limitations as a model for FOP, whereas the naturally occurring mutations p.R206H and p.Q207E facilitate receptor activation, albeit in a reversible manner.