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Hum Mol Genet. 2001 Aug 1;10(16):1649-56.

The importance of gene dosage studies: mutational analysis of the parkin gene in early-onset parkinsonism.

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Department of Neurology, Medical University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Germany.


Early-onset parkinsonism (EOP) may be associated with different mutations in the parkin gene, including exon deletions and duplications. To test for gene dosage alterations, we developed a new method of quantitative duplex PCR using the fluorescence resonance energy transfer technique on the LightCycler (Roche Diagnostics). In 21 patients with EOP, three mutations (a single base pair substitution in exon 3 and small deletions in exon 9) were detected by conventional mutational screening (single-strand conformation polymorphism and sequence analysis), while alterations of gene dosage were found in seven patients. We identified heterozygous and compound heterozygous deletions of exons 2, 3, 5 and 7. The latter was also found in the homozygous state. In addition, two heterozygous duplications of exon 4 were observed. Remarkably, two patients carried more than two parkin mutations. This is the first study systematically screening all 12 exons of parkin by real-time, kinetic quantification and clearly shows that mutational analysis of the parkin gene should include gene dosage studies. Furthermore, our method of quantitative PCR is easily applicable to any other gene to be screened for deletions or duplications of whole exons.

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