Generalized verrucosis and abnormal T cell activation due to homozygous TAOK2 mutation

Vered Molho-Pessach, Yuval Ramot, Maxim Mogilevsky, Leonor Cohen-Daniel, Eli M. Eisenstein, Abdulsalam Abu-Libdeh, Ihab Siam, Michael Berger, Rotem Karni, Abraham Zlotogorski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Generalized verrucosis (GV) is a chronic and progressive cutaneous human papillomavirus (HPV) infection resulting in multiple warts and associated with acquired or genetic immune defects. We identified a consanguineous Arab family manifesting GV and recurrent bacterial and viral infections, in association with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Objective To identify the mutated gene responsible for GV, recurrent infections and IBD, in this family. Methods Flow cytometry of peripheral blood mononuclear cells was performed, as well as proliferation and cell cycle assays of T cells. Whole exome sequencing was utilized to detect candidate mutated genes, assuming an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Skin fibroblasts from a patient, the mother and control were incubated with sorbitol to detect the phosphorylation ability of TAOK2, and a clonogenic assay was performed to assess the survival and proliferative capacity of fibroblasts’ colonies. Results Despite normal immunophenotyping of T and B cells, T cell proliferation upon activation was impaired in a patient compared to a heterozygous family member and a control. Genetic analyses identified a rare homozygous missense variant, c.2098C>T (p.R700C) in the TAOK2 gene, segregating with the disease phenotype in the family. TAOK2 encodes the TAO2 kinase, a mitogen activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K) in the p38-MAPK cascade. The mutation is predicted to disrupt its normal folding and molecular interaction; however, no impairment was observed in TAOK2 kinase activity toward its downstream target, MEK3/6, in patient's fibroblasts. Despite this normal kinase activity, a noticeably higher survival/proliferation of patient's skin fibroblasts was found. Conclusions A mutation in TAOK2 appears to cause a novel form of primary immunodeficiency, characterized by an impaired T cell proliferation upon activation. This novel cause of GV gives further support to the importance of the p38-MAPK pathway in the immune response against HPV, and possibly also in the pathogenesis of IBD.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dermatological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology


  • Generalized verrucosis
  • Human papilloma virus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • TAOK2
  • p38-MAPK pathway


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