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J Med Genet. 2009 Nov;46(11):752-8. doi: 10.1136/jmg.2009.067215. Epub 2009 Jun 29.

The very low penetrance of cystic fibrosis for the R117H mutation: a reappraisal for genetic counselling and newborn screening.

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Centre de Génétique, Hôpital d'Enfants, 10, bd Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, BP 77 908, 21079 Dijon cedex, France.



Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by compound heterozygosity or homozygosity of CF transmembrane conductance regulator gene (CFTR) mutations. Phenotypic variability associated with certain mutations makes genetic counselling difficult, notably for R117H, whose disease phenotype varies from asymptomatic to classical CF. The high frequency of R117H observed in CF newborn screening has also introduced diagnostic dilemmas. The aim of this study was to evaluate the disease penetrance for R117H in order to improve clinical practice.


The phenotypes in all individuals identified in France as compound heterozygous for R117H and F508del, the most frequent CF mutation, were described. The allelic prevalences of R117H (p(R117H)), on either intron 8 T5 or T7 background, and F508del (p(F508del)) were determined in the French population, to permit an evaluation of the penetrance of CF for the [R117H]+[F508del] genotype.


Clinical details were documented for 184 [R117H]+[F508del] individuals, including 72 newborns. The disease phenotype was predominantly mild; one child had classical CF, and three adults' severe pulmonary symptoms. In 5245 healthy adults, p(F508del) was 1.06%, p(R117H;T7) 0.27% and p(R117H;T5)<0.01%. The theoretical number of [R117H;T7]+[F508del] individuals in the French population was estimated at 3650, whereas only 112 were known with CF related symptoms (3.1%). The penetrance of classical CF for [R117H;T7]+[F508del] was estimated at 0.03% and that of severe CF in adulthood at 0.06%.


These results suggest that R117H should be withdrawn from CF mutation panels used for screening programmes. The real impact of so-called disease mutations should be assessed before including them in newborn or preconceptional carrier screening programmes.

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