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J Inherit Metab Dis. 2006 Oct;29(5):620-6. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

TAT gene mutation analysis in three Palestinian kindreds with oculocutaneous tyrosinaemia type II; characterization of a silent exonic transversion that causes complete missplicing by exon 11 skipping.

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Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Hadassah--Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.


Deficiency of the hepatic cytosolic enzyme tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) causes marked hypertyrosinaemia leading to painful palmoplantar hyperkeratoses, pseudodendritic keratitis and variable mental retardation (oculocutaneous tyrosinaemia type II or Richner-Hanhart syndrome). Parents may therefore seek prenatal diagnosis, but this is not possible by biochemical assays as tyrosine does not accumulate in amniotic fluid and TAT is not expressed in chorionic villi or amniocytes. Molecular analysis is therefore the only possible approach for prenatal diagnosis and carrier detection. To this end, we sought TAT gene mutations in 9 tyrosinaemia II patients from three consanguineous Palestinian kindreds. In two kindreds (7 patients), the only potential abnormality identified after sequencing all 12 exons and exon-intron boundaries was homozygosity for a silent, single-nucleotide transversion c.1224G > T (p.T408T) at the last base of exon 11. This was predicted to disrupt the 5' donor splice site of exon 11 and result in missplicing. However, as TAT is expressed exclusively in liver, patient mRNA could not be obtained for splicing analysis. A minigene approach was therefore used to assess the effect of c.1224G > T on exon 11 splicing. Transfection experiments with wild-type and c.1224G > T mutant minigene constructs demonstrated that c.1224G > T results in complete exon 11 skipping, illustrating the utility of this approach for confirming a putative splicing defect when cDNA is unavailable. Homozygosity for a c.1249C > T (R417X) exon 12 nonsense mutation (previously reported in a French patient) was identified in both patients from the third kindred, enabling successful prenatal diagnosis of an unaffected fetus using chorionic villous tissue.

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