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Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2003 Dec;24(6):629-38.

Genetics of cystic fibrosis.

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Division of Human Genetics, Department of Pediatrics/Inselspital, University of Berne, Switzerland.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, which encodes a protein expressed in the apical membrane of exocrine epithelial cells. CFTR functions principally as a cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-induced chloride channel and appears capable of regulating other ion channels. Mutations affect CFTR through a variety of molecular mechanisms, which can produce little or no functional gene product at the apical membrane. More than 1000 different disease-causing mutations within the CFTR gene have been described. The potential of a mutation to contribute to the phenotype depends on its type, localization in the gene, and the molecular mechanism as well as on interactions with secondary modifying factors. Genetic testing can confirm a clinical diagnosis of CF and can be used for infants with meconium ileus, for carrier detection in individuals with positive family history and partners of proven CF carriers, and for prenatal diagnostic testing if both parents are carriers. Studies of clinical phenotype in correlation with CFTR genotype have revealed a very complex relationship demonstrating that some phenotypic features are closely determined by the underlying mutations, whereas others are modulated by modifier genes, epigenetic mechanisms, and environment.


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