Characterization of survival motor neuron (SMN(T)) gene deletions in asymptomatic carriers of spinal muscular atrophy

Department of Genetics and Development, College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.
Human Molecular Genetics (Impact Factor: 6.68). 04/1996; 5(3):359-65. DOI: 10.1093/hmg/5.3.359
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous reports have established that the telomeric copy of the survival motor neuron (SMNT) gene and the intact copy of the neuronal apoptosis inhibitory protein (NAIP) gene are preferentially deleted in patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Although deletions or mutations in the SMNT gene are most highly correlated with SMA, it is not clear to what extent NAIP or other genes influence the SMA phenotype, or whether a small fraction of SMA patients actually have functional copies of both SMNT and NAIP. To evaluate further the part of SMNT in the development of SMA, we analyzed 280 asymptomatic SMA family members for the presence or absence of SMNT exons 7 and 8. We report the following observations: (i) 4% of the sample harbored a polymorphic variant of SMNT exon 7 that looks like a homozygous deletion; (ii) approximately 1% of the parents are homozygously deleted for both exons 7 and 8; (iii) one asymptomatic parent lacking both copies of SMNT exons 7 and 8 displays a 'subclinical phenotype' characterized by mild neurogenic pathology; (iv) another asymptomatic parent lacking both SMNT exons showed no signs of motor neuron disorder by clinical and neurodiagnostic analyses. The demonstration of polymorphic variants of exon 7 that masquerade as homozygous nulls, and the identification of SMA parents who harbor two disease alleles, serve as a caution to those conducting prenatal tests with these markers.

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    The American Journal of Human Genetics 08/1997; 61(1):151-9. DOI:10.1086/513889 · 10.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Autosomal recessive spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is classified, on the basis of age at onset and severity, into three types: type I, severe; type II, intermediate; and type III, mild. The critical region in 5q13 contains an inverted repeat harboring several genes, including the survival motor neuron (SMN) gene, the neuronal apoptosis inhibitory protein (NAIP) gene, and the p44 gene, which encodes a transcription-factor subunit. Deletion of NAIP and p44 is observed more often in severe SMA, but there is no evidence that these genes play a role in the pathology of the disease. In > 90% of all SMA patients, exons 7 and 8 of the telomeric SMN gene (SMNtel) are not detectable, and this is also observed in some normal siblings and parents. Point mutations and gene conversions in SMNtel suggest that it plays a major role in the disease. To define a correlation between genotype and phenotype, we mapped deletions, using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Surprisingly, our data show that mutations in SMA types II and III, previously classed as deletions, are in fact due to gene-conversion events in which SMNtel is replaced by its centromeric counterpart, SMNcen. This results in a greater number of SMNcen copies in type II and type III patients compared with type I patients and enables a genotype/phenotype correlation to be made. We also demonstrate individual DNA-content variations of several hundred kilobases, even in a relatively isolated population from Finland. This explains why no consensus map of this region has been produced. This DNA variation may be due to a midisatellite repeat array, which would promote the observed high deletion and gene-conversion rate.
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