In monogenic diseases, the presence of several sequence variations in the same allele may complicate our understanding of genotype–phenotype relationships. We described new alterations identified in a cystic fibrosis (CF) patient harboring a 48C>G promoter sequence variation associated in cis of a 3532AC>GTA mutation and in trans with the F508del mutation. Functional analyses including in vitro experiments confirmed the deleterious effect of the 3532GTA frameshift mutation through the creation of a premature termination codon. The analyses also revealed that the 48G promoter variant has a negative effect on both transcription and mRNA level, thus demonstrating the importance of analyzing all mutations or sequence variations with potential impact on CF transmembrane conductance regulator processing, even when the two known disease-causing mutations have already been detected. Our results emphasize the need to perform, wherever possible, functional studies that may greatly assist the interpretation of the disease-causing potential of rare mutation-associated sequence variations.
CFTR; promoter sequence variation; frameshift mutation; functional analysis
Among the 1700 mutations reported in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, a missense mutation, p.Ser1235Arg, is a relatively frequent finding. To clarify its clinical significance, we collected data from 104 subjects heterozygous for the mutation p.Ser1235Arg from the French CF network, addressed for various indications including classical CF, atypical phenotypes or carrier screening in subjects with or without a family history. Among them, 26 patients (5 having CF, 10 CBAVD (congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens) and 11 with CF-like symptoms) and 14 healthy subjects were compound heterozygous for a second CFTR mutation. An exhaustive CFTR gene analysis identified a second mutation in cis of p.Ser1235Arg in all CF patients and in 81.8% CBAVD patients. Moreover, epidemiological data from >2100 individuals found a higher frequency of p.Ser1235Arg in the general population than in CF or CBAVD patients. These data, added to the fact that in silico analysis and functional assays suggest a benign nature of this substitution, give several lines of evidence against an association of p.Ser1235Arg with CF or CBAVD.
cystic fibrosis; diagnosis; genetic counseling; mutation
Usher syndrome type II is the most common form of Usher syndrome. USH2A is the main responsible gene of the three known to be disease causing. It encodes two isoforms of the protein usherin. This protein is part of an interactome that has an essential role in the development and function of inner ear hair cells and photoreceptors. The gene contains 72 exons spanning over a region of 800 kb. Although numerous mutations have been described, the c.2299delG mutation is the most prevalent in several populations. Its ancestral origin was previously suggested after the identification of a common core haplotype restricted to 250 kb in the 5′ region that encodes the short usherin isoform. By extending the haplotype analysis over the 800 kb region of the USH2A gene with a total of 14 intragenic single nucleotide polymorphisms, we have been able to define 10 different c.2299delG haplotypes, showing high variability but preserving the previously described core haplotype. An exhaustive c.2299delG/control haplotype study suggests that the major source of variability in the USH2A gene is recombination. Furthermore, we have evidenced twice the amount of recombination hotspots located in the 500 kb region that covers the 3′ end of the gene, explaining the higher variability observed in this region when compared with the 250 kb of the 5′ region. Our data confirm the common ancestral origin of the c.2299delG mutation.
USH2A; c.2299delG; haplotype; dating
Few high-resolution structures of integral membranes proteins are available, as crystallization of such proteins needs yet to overcome too many technical limitations. Nevertheless, prediction of their transmembrane (TM) structure by bioinformatics tools provides interesting insights on the topology of these proteins.
We describe here how to extract new information from the analysis of hydrophobicity variations or hydrophobic pulses (HPulses) in the sequence of integral membrane proteins using the Hydrophobic Pulse Predictor, a new tool we developed for this purpose. To analyze the primary sequence of 70 integral membrane proteins we defined two levels of analysis: G1-HPulses for sliding windows of n = 2 to 6 and G2-HPulses for sliding windows of n = 12 to 16.
The G2-HPulse analysis of 541 transmembrane helices allowed the definition of the new concept of transmembrane unit (TMU) that groups together transmembrane helices and segments with potential adjacent structures. In addition, the G1-HPulse analysis identified helix irregularities that corresponded to kinks, partial helices or unannotated structural events. These irregularities could represent key dynamic elements that are alternatively activated depending on the channel status as illustrated by the crystal structures of the lactose permease in different conformations.
Our results open a new way in the understanding of transmembrane secondary structures: hydrophobicity through hydrophobic pulses strongly impacts on such embedded structures and is not confined to define the transmembrane status of amino acids.
Molecular pathophysiology of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) involves the heterozygous contraction of the number of tandemly repeated D4Z4 units at chromosome 4q35.2. FSHD is associated with a range of 1–10 D4Z4 units instead of 11–150 in normal controls. Several factors complicate FSHD molecular diagnosis, especially the cis-segregation of D4Z4 contraction with a 4qA allele, whereas D4Z4 shortening is silent both on alleles 4qB and 10q. Discrimination of pathogenic 4q-D4Z4 alleles from highly homologous 10q-D4Z4 arrays requires the use of the conventional Southern blot, which is not suitable at the single-cell level. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a frequent request from FSHD families with several affected relatives. We aimed to develop a rapid and sensitive PCR-based multiplex approach on single cells to perform an indirect familial segregation study of pathogenic alleles. Among several available polymorphic markers at 4q35.2, the four most proximal (D4S2390, D4S1652, D4S2930 and D4S1523, <1.23 Mb) showing the highest heterozygote frequencies (67–91%) were selected. Five recombination events in the D4S2390-D4S1523 interval were observed among 144 meioses. In the D4S2390-D4Z4 interval, no recombination event occurred among 28 FSHD meioses. Instead, a particular haplotype segregated with both clinical and molecular status, allowing the characterization of an at-risk allele in each tested FSHD family (maximal LOD score 2.98 for θ=0.0). This indirect protocol can easily complement conventional techniques in prenatal diagnosis. Although our multiplex PCR-based approach technically fulfils guidelines for single-cell analysis, the relatively high recombination risk hampers its application to PGD.
FSHD; single cell; multiplex PCR; indirect diagnosis; PGD; recombination
Immunodeficiency, Centromeric Instability, Facial Anomalies (ICF) syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive disorder that is characterized by a marked immunodeficiency, severe hypomethylation of the classical satellites 2 and 3 associated with disruption of constitutive heterochromatin, and facial anomalies. Sixty percent of ICF patients have mutations in the DNMT3B (DNA methyltransferase 3B) gene, encoding a de novo DNA methyltransferase.
In the present study, we have shown that, in ICF lymphoblasts and peripheral blood, juxtacentromeric heterochromatic genes undergo dramatic changes in DNA methylation, indicating that they are bona fide targets of the DNMT3B protein. DNA methylation in heterochromatic genes dropped from about 80% in normal cells to approximately 30% in ICF cells. Hypomethylation was observed in five ICF patients and was associated with activation of these silent genes. Although DNA hypomethylation occurred in all the analyzed heterochromatic genes and in all the ICF patients, gene expression was restricted to some genes, every patient having his own group of activated genes. Histone modifications were preserved in ICF patients. Heterochromatic genes were associated with histone modifications that are typical of inactive chromatin: they had low acetylation on H3 and H4 histones and were slightly enriched in H3K9Me3, both in ICF and controls. This was also the case for those heterochromatic genes that escaped silencing. This finding suggests that gene activation was not generalized to all the cells, but rather was restricted to a clonal cell population that may contribute to the phenotypic variability observed in ICF syndrome. A slight increase in H3K27 monomethylation was observed both in heterochromatin and active euchromatin in ICF patients; however, no correlation between this modification and activation of heterochromatic genes was found.
Large genomic rearrangements in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) account for up to 16–24% of CF alleles negative for point mutations in European populations. Herein, we identified a new large rearrangement removing exon 19 in a young CF patient, who hitherto harbored only the F508del mutation. By using LightCycler technology, we successfully and rapidly delineated the deletion end points by determining the relative copy number of a set CFTR sequence from introns 18 to 19. Fine mapping of the sequences bordering its break points was achieved using direct sequencing. We reported the first complex CFTR rearrangement containing two successive deletion events putatively linked. We evidenced the presence of short direct repeats in the vicinity of the deletions suggesting a possible replication slippage model. In this report, we also discussed the putative molecular mechanism and consequences of this complex gene rearrangement, unprecedented in CF. This complex deletion illustrates the importance of delineating the genomic rearrangement to improve our knowledge of the CFTR mutational spectrum and to better understand the molecular mechanism controlling the CFTR expression.
cystic fibrosis; CFTR gene; genomic rearrangement; large deletion
Usher syndrome is a genetically heterogeneous recessive disease characterized by hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). It frequently presents with unexplained, often intrafamilial, variability of the visual phenotype. Although 9 genes have been linked with Usher syndrome, many patients do not have mutations in any of these genes, suggesting that there are still unidentified genes involved in the syndrome. Here, we have determined that mutations in PDZ domain–containing 7 (PDZD7), which encodes a homolog of proteins mutated in Usher syndrome subtype 1C (USH1C) and USH2D, contribute to Usher syndrome. Mutations in PDZD7 were identified only in patients with mutations in other known Usher genes. In a set of sisters, each with a homozygous mutation in USH2A, a frame-shift mutation in PDZD7 was present in the sister with more severe RP and earlier disease onset. Further, heterozygous PDZD7 mutations were present in patients with truncating mutations in USH2A, G protein–coupled receptor 98 (GPR98; also known as USH2C), and an unidentified locus. We validated the human genotypes using zebrafish, and our findings were consistent with digenic inheritance of PDZD7 and GPR98, and with PDZD7 as a retinal disease modifier in patients with USH2A. Pdzd7 knockdown produced an Usher-like phenotype in zebrafish, exacerbated retinal cell death in combination with ush2a or gpr98, and reduced Gpr98 localization in the region of the photoreceptor connecting cilium. Our data challenge the view of Usher syndrome as a traditional Mendelian disorder and support the reclassification of Usher syndrome as an oligogenic disease.
So far, mutations in the human COL3A1 gene have been associated with the predominantly inherited Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (EDS), vascular type. Genotype–phenotype correlation perspectives collapsed, as haploinsufficiency, which was long suggested to confer a milder or unrecognized phenotype, was reported in four patients with a phenotype similar to that of vascular EDS. Here, we study a case of recessive EDS in a young consanguineous girl of healthy parents. She fulfilled the vascular EDS criteria for laboratory testing. Total sequencing of COL3A1 cDNA identified a homozygous nucleotide duplication (c.479dupT) resulting in a premature termination codon (p.Lys161GlnfsX45). Studies in genomic DNA showed that this mutation was inherited from each parent. The expression analysis (RT-PCR, quantitative-PCR, immunohistochemistry, WB) showed strong mRNA decay and an absence of type III collagen in the proband. The expected COL3A1 haploinsufficiency in her healthy ascendants did not lead to the manifestations of vascular EDS. This case provides evidence of a stochastic effect of COL3A1 haploinsufficiency in humans, which could be explained by the relation between nonsense-mediated mRNA decay efficiency and the resulting dominant-negative effect depending on the position of the mutation and/or modifying factors. It opens up new perspectives for the understanding of COL3A1 genotype–phenotype correlations, which is required while considering targeted therapy.
Ehlers–Danlos syndrome; COL3A1; recessive
Mutations identified in the fibrillin-1 (FBN1) gene have been associated with Marfan syndrome (MFS). Molecular analysis of the gene is classically performed in probands with MFS to offer diagnosis for at-risk relatives and in children highly suspected of MFS. However, FBN1 gene mutations are found in an ill-defined group of diseases termed ‘type I fibrillinopathies', which are associated with an increased risk of aortic dilatation and dissection. Thus, there is growing awareness of the need to identify these non-MFS probands, for which FBN1 gene screening should be performed. To answer this need we compiled the molecular data obtained from the screening of the FBN1 gene in 586 probands, which had been addressed to our laboratory for molecular diagnosis. In this group, the efficacy of FBN1 gene screening was high in classical MFS probands (72.5%,), low (58%) in those referred for incomplete MFS and only slight (14.3%) for patients referred as possible MFS. Using recursive partitioning, we found that the best predictor of the identification of a mutation in the FBN1 gene was the presence of features in at least three organ systems, combining one major, and various minor criteria. We also show that our original recommendation of two systems involved with at least one with major criterion represents the minimal criteria because in probands not meeting these criteria, the yield of mutation identification drastically falls. This recommendation should help clinicians and biologists in identifying probands with a high probability of carrying a FBN1 gene mutation, and thus optimize biological resources.
Marfan syndrome; fibrillin-1; mutation analysis
Mutations in the FBN1 gene cause Marfan syndrome (MFS) and a wide range of overlapping phenotypes. The severe end of the spectrum is represented by neonatal MFS, the vast majority of probands carrying a mutation within exons 24-32. We previously showed that a mutation in exons 24-32 is predictive of a severe cardiovascular phenotype even in non-neonatal cases, and that mutations leading to premature truncation codons are under-represented in this region. To describe patients carrying a mutation in this so-called “neonatal” region, we studied the clinical and molecular characteristics of 198 probands with a mutation in exons 24-32 from a series of 1013 probands with a FBN1 mutation (20%). When comparing patients with mutations leading to a premature termination codon within exons 24-32 to patients with an in-frame mutation within the same region, a significantly higher probability of developing ectopia lentis and mitral insufficiency were found in the second group. Patients with a premature termination codon within exons 24-32 rarely displayed a neonatal or severe MFS presentation. We also found a higher probability of neonatal presentations associated with exon 25 mutations, as well as a higher probability of cardiovascular manifestations. A high phenotypic heterogeneity could be described for recurrent mutations, ranging from neonatal to classical MFS phenotype. In conclusion, even if the exon 24-32 location appears as a major cause of the severity of the phenotype in patients with a mutation in this region, other factors such as the type of mutation or modifier genes might also be relevant.
Codon, Nonsense; DNA Mutational Analysis; Ectopia Lentis; genetics; Exons; genetics; Humans; Marfan Syndrome; genetics; Microfilament Proteins; genetics; metabolism; Mutation; Phenotype
Thousands of mutations are identified yearly. Although many directly affect protein expression, an increasing proportion of mutations is now believed to influence mRNA splicing. They mostly affect existing splice sites, but synonymous, non-synonymous or nonsense mutations can also create or disrupt splice sites or auxiliary cis-splicing sequences. To facilitate the analysis of the different mutations, we designed Human Splicing Finder (HSF), a tool to predict the effects of mutations on splicing signals or to identify splicing motifs in any human sequence. It contains all available matrices for auxiliary sequence prediction as well as new ones for binding sites of the 9G8 and Tra2-β Serine-Arginine proteins and the hnRNP A1 ribonucleoprotein. We also developed new Position Weight Matrices to assess the strength of 5′ and 3′ splice sites and branch points. We evaluated HSF efficiency using a set of 83 intronic and 35 exonic mutations known to result in splicing defects. We showed that the mutation effect was correctly predicted in almost all cases. HSF could thus represent a valuable resource for research, diagnostic and therapeutic (e.g. therapeutic exon skipping) purposes as well as for global studies, such as the GEN2PHEN European Project or the Human Variome Project.
The increasing number of laboratories offering molecular genetic analysis of the CFTR gene and the growing use of commercial kits strengthen the need for an update of previous best practice guidelines (published in 2000). The importance of organizing regional or national laboratory networks, to provide both primary and comprehensive CFTR mutation screening, is stressed. Current guidelines focus on strategies for dealing with increasingly complex situations of CFTR testing. Diagnostic flow charts now include testing in CFTR-related disorders and in fetal bowel anomalies. Emphasis is also placed on the need to consider ethnic or geographic origins of patients and individuals, on basic principles of risk calculation and on the importance of providing accurate laboratory reports. Finally, classification of CFTR mutations is reviewed, with regard to their relevance to pathogenicity and to genetic counselling.
guidelines; recommendations; genetic testing; cystic fibrosis; CFTR; CFTR-related disorders
Marfan syndrome (MFS) is an extracellular matrix disorder with cardinal manifestations in the eye, skeleton, and cardiovascular systems and associated with defects in the fibrillin gene (FBN1) at 15q21.1 1. We previously mapped the second locus for MFS (MFS type 2, MFS2, OMIM *154705), at 3p24.2-p25 in a large French family (MS1)2. Identification of a 3p24.1 chromosomal breakpoint disrupting the TGF-beta receptor 2 gene (TGFBR2) in a Japanese MFS patient led us to consider TGFBR2 as the MSF2 gene. We found a Q508Q mutation of TGFBR2 that resulted in abnormal splicing and segregated with MFS2 in MS1. Three other missense mutations were found in four unrelated probands and were shown by luciferase-assays to lead to loss of function of the TGF-β signaling activity on extracellular matrix formation. These results show that heterozygous mutations in TGFBR2, a putative tumor suppressor gene implicated in several malignancies, are also associated with inherited connective-tissue disorders.
Amino Acid Sequence; Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3; Female; Humans; Male; Marfan Syndrome; genetics; Molecular Sequence Data; Mutation; Pedigree; Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta; genetics; Signal Transduction; genetics
By performing extensive scanning of whole coding and flanking sequences of the CFTR (Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator) gene, we had previously identified point mutations in 167 out of 182 (91.7%) males with isolated congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). Conventional PCR-based methods of mutation analysis do not detect gross DNA lesions. In this study, we looked for large rearrangements within the whole CFTR locus in the 32 CBAVD patients with only one or no mutation.
We developed a semi-quantitative fluorescent PCR assay (SQF-PCR), which relies on the comparison of the fluorescent profiles of multiplex PCR fragments obtained from different DNA samples. We confirmed the gross alterations by junction fragment amplification and identified their breakpoints by direct sequencing.
We detected two large genomic heterozygous deletions, one encompassing exon 2 (c.54-5811_c.164+2186del8108ins182) [or CFTRdele2], the other removing exons 22 to 24 (c.3964-3890_c.4443+3143del9454ins5) [or CFTRdele 22_24], in two males carrying a typical CBAVD mutation on the other parental CFTR allele. We present the first bioinformatic tool for exon phasing of the CFTR gene, which can help to rename the exons and the nomenclature of small mutations according to international recommendations and to predict the consequence of large rearrangements on the open reading frame.
Identification of large rearrangements further expands the CFTR mutational spectrum in CBAVD and should now be systematically investigated. We have designed a simple test to specifically detect the presence or absence of the two rearrangements identified in this study.
Protocadherin-15 (PCDH15) is one of the five genes currently identified as being mutated in Usher 1 syndrome and defines Usher syndrome type 1F (USH1F). When PCDH15 was systematically analyzed for mutations in a cohort of USH1 patients, a number of deletions were found. Here we characterize these deletions as to extent, position, and breakpoints.
Microsatellite and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analyses, used in a preliminary survey of an Usher cohort of 31 patients, revealed large deletions in three patients. These deletions were further characterized by semiquantitative PCR assays to narrow down the breakpoints.
The analysis of the three large deletions revealed that all six breakpoints are different. The breakpoint junction was identified in one patient and the four other breakpoints were mapped to 4 kb. There were no specific distinguishing features of the isolated breakpoints.
A complete screen of PCDH15 should include a search for large deletions. Failure to screen for gross genomic rearrangements is likely to significantly lower the mutation detection rate. A likely explanation for the high rate of such deletions is the unusual gene structure. PCDH15 gene spans nearly 1 Mb for a corresponding open reading frame (ORF) of 7,021 bp. The intron sizes of PCDH15 are up to 150 kb, and the first three exons of the gene cover 0.42 Mb. The genomic structure of any gene should be taken into consideration when designing a mutation screening strategy.
CFTR expression is tightly controlled by a complex network of ubiquitous and tissue-specific cis-elements and trans-factors. To better understand mechanisms that regulate transcription of CFTR, we examined transcription factors that specifically bind a CFTR CArG-like motif we have previously shown to modulate CFTR expression. Gel mobility shift assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses demonstrated the CFTR CArG-like motif binds serum response factor both in vitro and in vivo. Transient co-transfections with various SRF expression vector, including dominant-negative forms and small interfering RNA, demonstrated that SRF significantly increases CFTR transcriptional activity in bronchial epithelial cells. Mutagenesis studies suggested that in addition to SRF other co-factors, such as Yin Yang 1 (YY1) previously shown to bind the CFTR promoter, are potentially involved in the CFTR regulation. Here, we show that functional interplay between SRF and YY1 might provide interesting perspectives to further characterize the underlying molecular mechanism of the basal CFTR transcriptional activity. Furthermore, the identification of multiple CArG binding sites in highly conserved CFTR untranslated regions, which form specific SRF complexes, provides direct evidence for a considerable role of SRF in the CFTR transcriptional regulation into specialized epithelial lung cells.
We studied the molecular basis of NSHL in Republic of Altai (South Siberia, Russia). The Altaians are the indigenous Asian population of the Altai Mountain region considered as a melting-pot and a dispersion center for world-wide human expansions in the past.
A total of 76 patients of Altaian, Russian or mixed ethnicity and 130 Altaian controls were analyzed by PCR-DHPLC and sequencing in the GJB2 gene. The GJB6 deletion and the common non-syndromic deafness-causing mitochondrial mutations were also tested when appropriate.
8.3% of the Altaian chromosomes were carrying GJB2 mutations versus 46.9% of the Russian chromosomes. The 235delC mutation was predominant among Altaians, whereas the 35delG mutation was most prevalent among Russian patients.
We found an Asian-specific GJB2 diversity among Altaians, and different GJB2 contribution for deafness in the Altaian and Russian patients. The high carrier frequency of 235delC in Altaians (4.6%) is probably defined by gene drift/founder effect in a particular group. The question whether the Altai region could be one of founder sources for the 235delC mutation widespread in Asia is open.
To contribute further to the classification of three CFTR amino acid changes (p.I148T, p.R74W and p.D1270N) either as CF or CBAVD-causing mutations or as neutral variations.
The CFTR genes from individuals who carried at least one of these changes were extensively scanned by a well established DGGE assay followed by direct sequencing and familial segregation analysis of mutations and polymorphisms.
Four CF patients (out of 1238) originally identified as carrying the p.I148T mutation in trans with a CF mutation had a second mutation (c.3199del6 or a novel mutation c.3395insA) on the p.I148T allele. We demonstrate here that the deletion c.3199del6 can also be associated with CF without p.I148T. Three CBAVD patients originally identified with the complex allele p.R74W-p.D1270N were also carrying p.V201M on this allele, by contrast with non CF or asymptomatic individuals including the mother of a CF child, who were carrying p.R74W-p.D1270N alone.
These findings question p.I148T or p.R74W-p.D1270N as causing by themselves CF or CBAVD and emphazises the necessity to perform a complete scanning of CFTR genes and to assign the parental alleles when novel missense mutations are identified.
Purpose: Practice of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) requires efficient amplification and analysis techniques. We have tested Denaturing High Performance Liquid Chromatography (DHPLC) to screen the Δ F508 mutation in heterozygous single cells in order to assess its usefulness for PGD of cystic fibrosis.
Methods: One hundred and two single lymphocytes—including N/N and N/ΔF508—were studied. F508 locus was amplified by nested PCR followed by the analysis of PCR products by DHPLC in non-denaturing conditions.
Results: On the basis of PCR-amplified product analysis, total efficiency of amplification was 98.78% (101/102), and allele dropout (ADO) rate was 3.7% (3/81). For each sample, results were obtained in less than 4 min with high resolution.
Conclusions: DHPLC is a rapid and efficient technique to detect the ΔF508 mutation in single cells and is therefore appropriate for clinical application of preimplantation genetic diagnosis of cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis; DHPLC; ΔF508; preimplantation genetic diagnosis
Mutations in the GJB2 gene have been established as a major cause of inherited non syndromic deafness in different populations. A high number of sequence variations have been described in the GJB2 gene and the associated pathogenic effects are not always clearly established. The prevalence of a number of mutations is known to be population specific, and therefore population specific testing should be a prerequisite step when molecular diagnosis is offered. Moreover, population studies are needed to determine the contribution of GJB2 variants to deafness. We present our findings from the molecular diagnostic screening of the GJB2 and GJB6 genes over a three year period, together with a population-based study of GJB2 variants.
Methods and results
Molecular studies were performed using denaturing High Performance Liquid Chromatograghy (DHPLC) and sequencing of the GJB2 gene. Over the last 3 years we have studied 159 families presenting sensorineural hearing loss, including 84 with non syndromic, stable, bilateral deafness. Thirty families were genotyped with causative mutations. In parallel, we have performed a molecular epidemiology study on more than 3000 dried blood spots and established the frequency of the GJB2 variants in our population. Finally, we have compared the prevalence of the variants in the hearing impaired population with the general population.
Although a high heterogeneity of sequence variation was observed in patients and controls, the 35delG mutation remains the most common pathogenic mutation in our population. Genetic counseling is dependent on the knowledge of the pathogenicity of the mutations and remains difficult in a number of cases. By comparing the sequence variations observed in hearing impaired patients with those sequence variants observed in general population, from the same ethnic background, we show that the M34T, V37I and R127H variants can not be responsible for profound or severe deafness.
X-linked ocular albinism type 1 (OA1) is caused by mutations in OA1 gene, which encodes a membrane glycoprotein localised to melanosomes. OA1 mainly affects pigment production in the eye, resulting in optic changes associated with albinism including hypopigmentation of the retina, nystagmus, strabismus, foveal hypoplasia, abnormal crossing of the optic fibers and reduced visual acuity. Affected Caucasian males usually appear to have normal skin and hair pigment.
We identified three previously undescribed mutations consisting of two intragenic deletions (one encompassing exon 6, the other encompassing exons 7–8), and a point mutation (310delG) in exon 2. We report the development of a new method for diagnosis of heterozygous deletions in OA1 gene based on measurement of gene copy number using real-time quantitative PCR from genomic DNA.
The identification of OA1 mutations in families earlier reported as families with hereditary nystagmus indicate that ocular albinism type 1 is probably underdiagnosed. Our method of real-time quantitative PCR of OA1 exons with DMD exon as external standard performed on the LightCycler™ allows quick and accurate carrier-status assessment for at-risk females.