JOURNAL ARTICLE
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RNA-based mutation screening in German families with Sjögren-Larsson syndrome.

Sjögren-Larsson syndrome (SLS) is a rare autosomal recessively inherited disorder characterised by mental retardation, spasticity and ichthyosis. SLS patients have a profound deficiency in fatty aldehyde dehydrogenase (FALDH) activity. The human cDNA of FALDH has been shown to map to the SLS locus on chromosome 17p11.2. Here we describe a method based on reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and protein truncation test to identify mutations in the FALDH gene in nine German SLS families. Using this detection system both disease-causing mutations were found in eight of the nine SLS families examined (17/18 chromosomes). Seven different mutations were identified: an exon 2 skipping due to exon 2 splice donor mutation; two different exon 3 splice donor mutations resulting in combined exon 2 and 3 skipping; a 906delT deletion in exon 6; a genomic deletion of about 6 kb including exon 9; a 1277T > G transversion resulting in a Leu426Ter nonsense mutation; and a 1297delGA deletion. Two of the mutations identified, the genomic exon 9 deletion and the 906delT in exon 6 affected five out of seven SLS patients from a small region of Northern Bavaria. Therefore these two mutations accounted for 71% (10/14 chromosomes) of Bavarian SLS alleles and so far have not been described in SLS families from other countries. Our findings do not support our 'historical' hypothesis, that a possible region clustering in Northern Bavaria could be due to the presence of Swedish soldiers during the 30 Years War (1618-1648), but suggest that two mutations causing SLS syndrome originated in Northern Bavaria.

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