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J Clin Invest. 1992 Jul;90(1):150-5.

Identification of a genetic alteration in the code for bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase in the UGT1 gene complex of a Crigler-Najjar type I patient.

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  • 1Human Genetics Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Patients with Crigler-Najjar syndrome (CN) type I inherit an autosomal recessive trait for hyperbilirubinemia, which is characterized by the total absence of bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (transferase) activity. The recent identification of two bilirubin transferase isoforms with identical carboxyl termini (Ritter, J. K., J. M. Crawford, and I. S. Owens. 1991. J. Biol. Chem. 266:1043-1047) led to the discovery of a unique locus, UGT1, which encodes a family of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase isozymes, including the two bilirubin forms (Ritter, J. K., F. Chen, Y. Y. Sheen, H. M. Tran, S. Kimura, M. T. Yeatman, and I. S. Owens. 1992. J. Biol. Chem. 267:3257-3261). The UGT1 locus features a complex of six overlapping transcriptional units encoding transferases, each of which shares the four most 3' exons (2, 3, 4, and 5) specifying the 3' half of the transferase coding regions (condons 289-533) and the entire 3' untranslated region of each mRNA. This gene model predicts that a single critical mutation in any of these four "common" exons may inactivate the entire family of encoded transferases. In agreement with this prediction, we show here that in the first CN type I individual analyzed (patient F.B.), a 13-bp deletion has occurred in exon 2. Analysis of product generated by the polymerase chain reaction and genomic DNA demonstrated that F.B. is homozygous for the defective allele (UGT1*FB), and that the consanguineous parents are both heterozygotic at this locus. The mutation is predicted to result in the synthesis of severely truncated bilirubin transferase isozymes that are lacking a highly conserved sequence in the carboxyl-terminus and the characteristic membrane (endoplasmic reticulum)-anchoring segment of the protein molecule.

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