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J Biol Chem. 1990 Oct 5;265(28):17070-7.

A base substitution at a splice site in the COL3A1 gene causes exon skipping and generates abnormal type III procollagen in a patient with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type IV.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


The dermis of a child with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type IV (EDS-IV) contained about 11% of the normal amount of type III collagen and cultured dermal fibroblasts produced a reduced amount of type III procollagen which was secreted poorly. Type III collagen produced by these cells contained normal and abnormal alpha-chains and cyanogen bromide peptides. The site of the structural defect in the abnormal alpha 1 (III) chains was localized to the region of Met797, which is at the junction of the two carboxyl-terminal CB5 and CB9 cyanogen bromide peptides. Chemical cleavage of heteroduplexes formed between EDS-IV mRNA and a normal cDNA clone covering the CB5 and CB9 region showed that about 100 nucleotides were mismatched. Sequencing of amplified and cloned cDNA spanning the mutant region revealed a 108 nucleotide deletion corresponding to amino acid residues Gly775 to Lys810. The deleted nucleotide sequence corresponded to sequences that, by analogy to the organization of the type I collagen genes, should be precisely encoded by exon 41 of the COL3A1 gene. Sequencing of amplified genomic DNA, prepared using disimilar amounts of primers specific for exons 41 and 42, displayed a base substitution (G-to-A) in the highly conserved GT dinucleotide of the 5' splice site of intron 41. Normal sequences were also obtained from the normal allele. It is likely that the GT-to-AT transition at the splice donor site of intron 41 generated an abnormally spliced mRNA in which sequences of exon 40 and 42 were joined together with maintenance of the reading frame. The corresponding peptide deletion included the cyanogen bromide cleavage site Met797-Pro798 and the mammalian collagenase cleavage site at Gly781-Ile782. These losses account for the resistance of EDS-IV collagen to cyanogen bromide and mammalian collagenase digestion. Cultured fibroblasts produced normal homotrimer, mutant homotrimer, and mixed heterotrimer type III collagen molecules. The mutant homotrimer molecules were the major pepsin-resistant species and about 69% of the alpha 1(III) mRNA was in the mutant form.

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