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Am J Hum Genet. 1997 Jun;60(6):1373-83.

Molecular epidemiology and diagnosis of PBG deaminase gene defects in acute intermittent porphyria.

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  • 1Centre Français des Porphyries, INSERM U.409, Hôpital Louis Mourier, Colombes, France.


Acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) is the major autosomal dominant form of acute hepatic porphyrias. The disease is due to mutations in the gene encoding for porphobilinogen (PBG) deaminase and is characterized by life-threatening neurovisceral attacks, often precipitated by drugs, fasting, cyclical hormonal changes, or infectious diseases. This report describes a prospective study on the molecular epidemiology of PBG deaminase gene defects in AIP. It uses a sensitive, reliable, and easy-to-handle method for routine AIP molecular diagnosis and family study based on an exon-by-exon denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) strategy followed by direct sequencing. Fifteen genomic DNA fragments, including all the coding sequence and covering 3.35 kb of the PBG deaminase gene, were investigated in 405 subjects from 121 unrelated French Caucasian AIP families who had not been screened previously at the DNA level. PBG deaminase gene mutations were identified in 109 families, but only 78 were of different type, and each of them had a prevalence rate < 5%. Among these mutations, 33 had not been published previously. Sixty percent of these 78 mutations were located in only three exons (exons 10, 12, and 14), 44% were missense, 18% were splice defect, 19% were frameshift, and 16% were nonsense. In addition, two de novo mutational events were characterized. The evaluation of the efficiency of the standard PBG deaminase enzymatic screening method for gene-carrier detection indicated 95% of concordancy with the molecular-based diagnosis.

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