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Br J Pharmacol. 1998 Oct;125(4):879-87.

Genotypic and phenotypic analysis of the polymorphic thiopurine S-methyltransferase gene (TPMT) in a European population.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biochimie et Biologie Moléculaire, Hôpital Calmette, Centre Hospitalier Régional et Universitaire de Lille, France.


1. Characterization of allelic variants of the TPMT gene (TPMT) responsible for changes in TPMT activity, and elucidation of the mechanism by which these alleles act, are required because of the clinical importance of this polymorphism for patients receiving thiopurine drugs. 2. We defined the mutational and allelic spectrum of TPMT in a group of 191 Europeans. Using PCR-SSCP, we screened for mutation the entire coding sequence, the exon-intron boundaries, the promoter region and the 3'-flanking region of the gene. Six mutations were detected throughout the ten exons and seven TPMT alleles were characterized. Four of them, TPMT*2, *3A, *3C and *7, harbouring the known mutations, G238C, G460A, A719G or T681G, were nonfunctional and accounted for 0.5, 5.7, 0.8 and 0.3% of the allele totality, respectively. 3. Within the promoter region, six alleles corresponding to a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR), were identified. VNTR*V4 and *V5a which harbour four or five repeats of a 17-18 bp unit, were the most frequent (55% and 34%, respectively). The other VNTR alleles, having from five to eight repeats, were rarer. 4. The TPMT phenotype was correctly predicted by genotyping for 87% of individuals. A clear negative correlation between the total number of repeats from both alleles and the TPMT activity level was observed, indicating that VNTRs contribute to interindividual variations of TPMT activity. Therefore, additional analysis of the promoter region of TPMT can improve the phenotype prediction rate by genotyping.

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