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Research Article

Similar levels of mRNA from the W1282X and the delta F508 cystic fibrosis alleles, in nasal epithelial cells.

T Shoshani, E Kerem, A Szeinberg, A Augarten, Y Yahav, D Cohen, J Rivlin, A Tal and B Kerem

Department of Genetics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Published April 1994

The effect of nonsense mutations on mRNA levels is variable. The levels of some mRNAs are not affected and truncated proteins are produced, while the levels of others are severely decreased and null phenotypes are observed. The effect on mRNA levels is important for the understanding of phenotype-genotype association. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a lethal autosomal recessive disease with variable clinical presentation. Recently, two CF patients with mild pulmonary disease carrying nonsense mutations (R553X, W1316X) were found to have severe deficiency of mRNA. In the Jewish Ashkenazi CF patient population, 60% of the chromosomes carry a nonsense mutation, W1282X. Patients homozygous for this mutation have severe disease presentation with variable pulmonary disease. The presence of CF transcripts in a group of patients homozygous and heterozygous for this mutation was studied by reverse transcriptase PCR of various regions of the gene. Subsequent hybridization to specific CF PCR probes and densitometry analysis indicated that the CF mRNA levels in patients homozygous for the W1282X mutation are not significantly decreased by the mutation. mRNA levels were compared for patients heterozygous for the W1282X mutation. The relative levels of mRNA with the W1282X, and the delta F508 or the normal alleles, were similar in each patient. These results indicate that the severe clinical phenotype of patients carrying the W1282X mutation is not due to a severe deficiency of mRNA. In addition, the severity, progression, and variability of the pulmonary disease are affected by other, as yet unknown factors.

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