RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Spectrum and frequency of jagged1 (JAG1) mutations in Alagille syndrome patients and their families.

Alagille syndrome (AGS) is a dominantly inherited disorder characterized by liver disease in combination with heart, skeletal, ocular, facial, renal, and pancreatic abnormalities. We have recently demonstrated that Jagged1 (JAG1) is the AGS gene. JAG1 encodes a ligand in the Notch intercellular signaling pathway. AGS is the first developmental disorder to be associated with this pathway and the first human disorder caused by a Notch ligand. We have screened 54 AGS probands and family members to determine the frequency of mutations in JAG1. Three patients (6%) had deletions of the entire gene. Of the remaining 51 patients, 35 (69%) had mutations within JAG1, identified by SSCP analysis. Of the 35 identified intragenic mutations, all were unique, with the exceptions of a 5-bp deletion in exon 16, seen in two unrelated patients, and a C insertion at base 1618 in exon 9, also seen in two unrelated patients. The 35 intragenic mutations included 9 nonsense mutations (26%); 2 missense mutations (6%); 11 small deletions (31%), 8 small insertions (23%), and 1 complex rearrangement (3%), all leading to frameshifts; and 4 splice-site mutations (11%). The mutations are spread across the coding sequence of the gene within the evolutionarily conserved motifs of the JAG1 protein. There is no phenotypic difference between patients with deletions of the entire JAG1 gene and those with intragenic mutations, which suggests that one mechanism involved in AGS is haploinsufficiency. The two missense mutations occur at the same amino acid residue. The mechanism by which these missense mutations lead to the disease is not yet understood; however, they suggest that mechanisms other than haploinsufficiency may result in the AGS phenotype.

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