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Am J Hum Genet. 1997 Nov;61(5):1095-101.

Rufous oculocutaneous albinism in southern African Blacks is caused by mutations in the TYRP1 gene.

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Department of Human Genetics, South African Institute for Medical Research, Johannesburg, South Africa.


Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) is the most common autosomal recessive disorder among southern African Blacks. There are three forms that account for almost all OCA types in this region. Tyrosinase-positive OCA (OCA2), which is the most common, affects approximately 1/3,900 newborns and has a carrier frequency of approximately 1/33. It is caused by mutations in the P gene on chromosome 15. Brown OCA (BOCA) and rufous OCA (ROCA) account for the majority of the remaining phenotypes. The prevalence of BOCA is unknown, but for ROCA it is approximately 1/8,500. Linkage analysis performed on nine ROCA families showed that ROCA was linked to an intragenic marker at the TYRP1 locus (maximum LOD score = 3.80 at straight theta=.00). Mutation analysis of 19 unrelated ROCA individuals revealed a nonsense mutation at codon 166 (S166X) in 17 (45%) of 38 ROCA chromosomes, and a second mutation (368delA) was found in an additional 19 (50%) of 38 chromosomes; mutations were not identified in the remaining 2 ROCA chromosomes. In one family, two siblings with a phenotypically unclassified form of albinism were found to be compound heterozygotes for mutations (S166X/368delA) at the TYRP1 locus and were heterozygous for a common 2.7-kb deletion in the P gene. These findings have highlighted the influence of genetic background on phenotype, in which the genotype at one locus can be influenced by the genotype at a second locus, leading to a modified phenotype. ROCA, which in southern African Blacks is caused by mutations in the TYRP1 gene, therefore should be referred to as "OCA3," since this is the third locus that has been shown to cause an OCA phenotype in humans.

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