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J Clin Invest. 2012 Jul;122(7):2346-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI63989. Epub 2012 Jun 18.

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Mutations in numerous genes encoding ribosomal proteins (RPs) occur in 50%-70% of individuals with Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA), establishing the disease as a ribosomopathy. As described in this issue of JCI, Sankaran, Gazda, and colleagues used genome-wide exome sequencing to study DBA patients with no detectable mutations in RP genes. They identified two unrelated pedigrees in which the disease is associated with mutations in GATA1, which encodes an essential hematopoietic transcription factor with no known mechanistic links to ribosomes. These findings ignite an interesting and potentially emotional debate on how we define DBA and whether the term should be restricted to pure ribosomopathies. More generally, the work reflects the powerful knowledge and controversies arising from the deluge of data generated by new genetic technologies that are being used to analyze human diseases.

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