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Clin Exp Allergy. 2002 Jul;32(7):1000-6.

Genetic deficiency of human mast cell alpha-tryptase.

Author information

  • 1Cardiovascular Research Institute and Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0911, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Human alpha- and beta-tryptases are proteases secreted by mast cells. Beta (but not alpha) tryptases are implicated in asthma. Genes encoding both types of tryptases cluster on chromosome 16p13.3.

OBJECTIVE:

This study examines the hypothesis, generated from mapping data, that alpha-alleles compete with some beta-alleles at one locus and that an adjacent locus contains beta-alleles exclusively. This hypothesis predicts that beta-alleles outnumber alpha and that some genomes lack alpha genes altogether.

METHODS:

To test this hypothesis, we developed PCR-based techniques to distinguish alpha from beta genes. We then genotyped genomic DNA from individuals and tryptase-expressing cell lines.

RESULTS:

In support of our hypothesis, we find that alpha-tryptase deficiency affects 80/274 (29%) of individuals surveyed. The genotype of the alpha-deficient individuals is betabetabetabeta, due to inheritance of four beta genes. The percentage of the population with the mixed genotypes alphaalphabetabeta and alphabetabetabeta is 21% and 50%, respectively. Accounting for all alpha- and beta-alleles at the tandem loci on 16p13.3, overall alpha-allele frequency is only 0.23, with beta-alleles considerably outnumbering alpha as hypothesized. In samples of defined ethnicity, alpha deficiency affects 45% of Caucasians, but a much lower percentage of other backgrounds, including African-Americans and Asians. Examination of cell lines reveals that HMC-1 and U-937 lack alpha-genes; thus, lack of alpha transcripts in these cells is due to absence of alpha-genes rather than beta-selective transcription. By contrast, alpha-transcribing Mono Mac 6 and KU812 cells contain alpha- and beta-genes.

CONCLUSIONS:

Genetic alpha-tryptase deficiency is common and varies strikingly between ethnic groups. Because beta-tryptases are implicated in allergic disorders, inherited differences in alpha/beta-genotype may affect disease susceptibility, severity and response to tryptase inhibitor therapy.

PMID:
12100045
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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