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J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Oct;113(4):673-86.

Comparative mutation detection screening of the type VII collagen gene (COL7A1) using the protein truncation test, fluorescent chemical cleavage of mismatch, and conformation sensitive gel electrophoresis.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Pathology, St John's Institute of Dermatology, St Thomas' Hospitals' Medical School, London, UK.


Mutations in the type VII collagen gene, COL7A1, give rise to the blistering skin disease, dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. We have developed two new mutation detection strategies for the screening of COL7A1 mutations in patients with dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa and compared them with an established protocol using conformational sensitive gel electrophoresis. The first strategy consisted of an RNA based protein truncation test that amplified the entire coding region in only four overlapping nested reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assays. These fragments were transcribed and translated in vitro and analyzed using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. We have used the protein truncation test procedure to characterize 15 truncating mutations in 13 patients with severe recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa yielding a detection sensitivity of 58%. The second strategy was a DNA-based fluorescent chemical cleavage of mismatch (fl-CCM) procedure that amplified the COL7A1 gene in 21 polymerase chain reaction assays. Mismatches, formed between patient and control DNA, were identified using chemical modification and cleavage of the DNA. We have compared fl-CCM with conformational sensitive gel electrophoresis by screening a total of 50 dominant and recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa patients. The detection sensitivity for fl-CCM was 81% compared with 75% for conformational sensitive gel electrophoresis (p = 0.37 chi2-test). Using a combination of the three techniques we have screened 93 dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa patients yielding an overall sensitivity of 87%, detecting 79 different mutations, 57 of which have not been reported previously. Comparing all three approaches, we believe that no single method is consistently better than the others, but that the fl-CCM procedure is a sensitive, semiautomated, high throughput system that can be recommended for COL7A1 mutation detection.

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