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Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Mar;66(3):778-89.

Characterization of the NPHP1 locus: mutational mechanism involved in deletions in familial juvenile nephronophthisis.

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INSERM U423, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, Université René Descartes, Paris, France.


Familial juvenile nephronophthisis is an autosomal recessive, genetically heterogeneous kidney disorder representing the most frequent inherited cause of chronic renal failure in children. A gene, NPHP1, responsible for approximately 85% of the purely renal form of nephronophthisis, has been mapped to 2q13 and characterized. The major NPHP1 gene defect is a large homozygous deletion found in approximately 80% of the patients. In this study, by large-scale genomic sequencing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis, we characterized the complex organization of the NPHP1 locus and determined the mutational mechanism that results in the large deletion observed in most patients. We showed that the deletion is 290 kb in size and that NPHP1 is flanked by two large inverted repeats of approximately 330 kb. In addition, a second sequence of 45 kb located adjacent to the proximal 330-kb repeat was shown to be directly repeated 250 kb away within the distal 330-kb repeat deleting the sequence tag site (STS) 804H10R present in the proximal copy. The patients' deletion breakpoints appear to be located within the 45-kb repeat, suggesting an unequal recombination between the two homologous copies of this smaller repeat. Moreover, we demonstrated a nonpathologic rearrangement involving the two 330-kb inverted repeats found in 11 patients and, in the homozygous state, in 2 (1.3%) control individuals. This could be explained by interchromosomal mispairing of the 330-kb inverted repeat, followed by double recombination or by a prior intrachromosomal mispairing of these repeats, leading to an inversion of the NPHP1 region, followed by an interchromosomal unequal crossover event. This complex rearrangement, as well as the common deletion found in most patients, illustrates the high level of rearrangements occurring in the centromeric region of chromosome 2.

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