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Genomics. 1990 Dec;8(4):656-63.

Detection of point mutations associated with genetic diseases by an exon scanning technique.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


A major challenge in genetics is identifying the basis of human heritable disease. We describe an "exon scanning" technique which surveys exons in genomic DNA for sequence alterations. By hybridizing genomic DNA to RNA probes derived from cDNAs, we can use RNase A to survey entire coding regions, comprising exons spread across extensive regions of genomic DNA, for mutations associated with genetic disease. Exon scanning of the beta-globin locus in the DNA of patients with 12 different hemoglobinopathies detected all of the culpable single base substitutions and deletions, but not single base insertions. Our analysis also revealed unsuspected polymorphisms and corrected a diagnosis originally based on hemoglobin electrophoresis. Exon scanning of the ornithine aminotransferase gene in a gyrate atrophy patient detected and localized a mutation in the sixth exon. Subsequent PCR amplification and sequencing characterized this as a missense mutation (proline----glutamine). Exon scanning of genomic DNA for sequence alterations, in combination with PCR amplification and sequencing, should be a generally useful strategy for evaluating suspect genes in disorders of unknown etiology, as well as for clinical diagnosis.

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