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Hum Mol Genet. 2001 Nov 15;10(24):2797-802.

Mutations in the general transcription factor TFIIH result in beta-thalassaemia in individuals with trichothiodystrophy.

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MRC Molecular Haematology Unit, Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 9DS, UK.


The transcription factor TFIIH is involved in both basal transcription and DNA repair. Mutations in the XPD helicase component of TFIIH can result in the diverse clinical features associated with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) and trichothiodystrophy (TTD). It is generally believed that the multi-system abnormalities associated with TTD are the result of a subtle deficiency in basal transcription. However, to date, there has been no clear demonstration of a defect in expression of any specific gene in individuals with these syndromes. Here we show that the specific mutations in XPD that cause TTD result in reduced expression of the beta-globin genes in these individuals. Eleven TTD patients with characterized mutations in the XPD gene have the haematological features of beta-thalassaemia trait, and reduced levels of beta-globin synthesis and beta-globin mRNA. All these parameters were normal in three patients with XP. These findings provide the first evidence for reduced expression of a specific gene in TTD. They support the hypothesis that many of the clinical features of TTD result from inadequate expression of a diverse set of highly expressed genes.

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