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J Biol Chem. 1992 Jun 25;267(18):12950-4.

A deletion in the ornithine aminotransferase gene in gyrate atrophy.

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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, Florida 33136.


Gyrate atrophy (GA) is an autosomal recessive chorioretinal degenerative disease of the eye caused by an inborn defect of the nuclear encoded mitochondrial enzyme ornithine aminotransferase (OAT). We have described previously a GA patient with a 5.0-kilobase pair truncated EcoRI OAT gene fragment and the absence of OAT mRNA on Northern blot analysis. Cloning and sequencing analysis of the truncated gene fragment revealed a 1,072-base pair (bp) deletion including the entire exon 6, starting in intron 5, 172 bp upstream of exon 6 and ending in intron 6, 772 bp downstream of exon 6. A short direct repeat sequence (AGGAGC), resembling the sequence shown to cause DNA polymerase alpha to pause, and sequences capable of forming hairpin loops were both present at the 5' and 3' break-points of the deletion. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction amplification of the patient's RNA with OAT primers yielded DNA fragments of two different sizes, consistent with a low level expression of OAT mRNA. Direct sequencing of the smaller fragment demonstrated the complete absence of exon 6 sequence in the mRNA predicted from the deletion, causing a reading frame shift which results in a premature termination codon at position 192. The mutation in the other allele has been demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, and direct sequencing also to be a premature termination codon in exon 6. The absence of detectable OAT mRNA in this patient is consistent with these premature termination mutations because they have been shown to decrease the level of mRNA, especially if present early in the coding sequence.

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