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Reviewed July 2012

What is the official name of the ABCA3 gene?

The official name of this gene is “ATP binding cassette subfamily A member 3.”

ABCA3 is the gene's official symbol. The ABCA3 gene is also known by other names, listed below.

Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.

What is the normal function of the ABCA3 gene?

The ABCA3 gene provides instructions for making a protein involved in surfactant production. Surfactant is a mixture of certain fats (called phospholipids) and proteins that lines the lung tissue and makes breathing easy. Without normal surfactant, the tissue surrounding the air sacs in the lungs (the alveoli) sticks together after exhalation (because of a force called surface tension), causing the alveoli to collapse. As a result, filling the lungs with air on each breath becomes very difficult, and delivery of oxygen to the body is impaired.

The ABCA3 protein is found in the membrane that surrounds lamellar bodies, which are the cellular structures in which the phospholipids and proteins that make up surfactant are packaged. The ABCA3 protein transports phospholipids into the lamellar bodies where they interact with surfactant proteins to form surfactant. The ABCA3 protein also appears to be involved in the formation of normal lamellar bodies. In addition to packaging, lamellar bodies are important for the correct processing of surfactant proteins, which is necessary for the proteins to mature and become functional.

Does the ABCA3 gene share characteristics with other genes?

The ABCA3 gene belongs to a family of genes called ABC (ATP-binding cassette transporters).

A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? in the Handbook.

How are changes in the ABCA3 gene related to health conditions?

surfactant dysfunction - caused by mutations in the ABCA3 gene

More than 100 ABCA3 gene mutations that cause surfactant dysfunction have been identified. Surfactant dysfunction due to mutations in this gene (often called ABCA3 deficiency) can cause severe, often fatal breathing problems in newborns or gradual onset of milder breathing problems in children or adults.

Some mutations in the ABCA3 gene lead to the production of a protein that is not inserted into the lamellar body membrane. Other mutations lead to the production of an abnormal protein that is found in the lamellar body membrane but has little or no function. Without ABCA3 protein function, the transport of surfactant phospholipids is decreased. In addition, lamellar body formation is impaired, which causes abnormal processing of surfactant proteins. ABCA3 gene mutations result in abnormal surfactant composition and function. The loss of functional surfactant raises surface tension in the alveoli, causing difficulty breathing and collapse of the lungs. It has been suggested that mutations that eliminate ABCA3 protein function cause severe forms of surfactant dysfunction, and mutations that leave some residual ABCA3 activity cause milder forms of the condition.

Where is the ABCA3 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 16p13.3

Molecular Location on chromosome 16: base pairs 2,275,878 to 2,340,746

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBIThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference.)

The ABCA3 gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 16 at position 13.3.

The ABCA3 gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 16 at position 13.3.

More precisely, the ABCA3 gene is located from base pair 2,275,878 to base pair 2,340,746 on chromosome 16.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about ABCA3?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about ABCA3 helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the ABCA3 gene or gene products?

  • ABC3
  • ABC-C
  • ABC-C transporter
  • ABC transporter 3
  • ATP-binding cassette, sub-family A (ABC1), member 3
  • ATP-binding cassette sub-family A member 3
  • ATP-binding cassette transporter 3
  • SMDP3

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding ABCA3?

alveoli ; ATP ; deficiency ; gene ; oxygen ; phospholipids ; protein ; tissue

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (6 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: July 2012
Published: February 8, 2016