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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Feb;37(2):562-8.

A founder mutation of the potassium channel KCNQ1 in long QT syndrome: implications for estimation of disease prevalence and molecular diagnostics.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.



We took advantage of the genetic isolate of Finns to characterize a common long QT syndrome (LQTS) mutation, and to estimate the prevalence of LQTS.


The LQTS is caused by mutations in different ion channel genes, which vary in their molecular nature from family to family.


The potassium channel gene KCNQ1 was sequenced in two unrelated Finnish patients with Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS), followed by genotyping of 114 LQTS probands and their available family members. The functional properties of the mutation were studied using a whole-cell patch-damp technique.


We identified a novel missense mutation (G589D or KCNQ1-Fin) in the C-terminus of the KCNQ1 subunit. The voltage threshold of activation for the KCNQ1-Fin channel was markedly increased compared to the wild-type channel. This mutation was present in homozygous form in two siblings with JLNS, and in heterozygous form in 34 of 114 probands with Romano-Ward syndrome (RWS) and 282 family members. The mean (+/- SD) rate-corrected QT intervals of the heterozygous subjects (n = 316) and noncarriers (n = 423) were 460 +/- 40 ms and 410 +/- 20 ms (p < 0.001), respectively.


A single missense mutation of the KCNQ1 gene accounts for 30% of Finnish cases with LQTS, and it may be associated with both the RWS and JLNS phenotypes of the syndrome. The relative enrichment of this mutation most likely represents a founder gene effect. These circumstances provide an excellent opportunity to examine how genetic and nongenetic factors modify the LQTS phenotype.

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