Recent molecular studies have shown that in a patient with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) Kobe, the size of exon 19 of the dystrophin gene was reduced to 36 bp due to the deletion of 52 bp out of 88 bp of the exon. The consensus sequences at the 5' and 3' splice sites of exon 19 were unaltered (Matsuo, M., et al. 1990. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 170:963-967). To further elucidate the molecular nature of the defect, we examined the primary structure of cytoplasmic dystrophin mRNA of the DMD Kobe patient across the junctions of exons 18, 19, and 20 by gel electrophoresis and sequencing of polymerase chain reaction-amplified cDNA. The mRNA coding for dystrophin was reverse transcribed using random primers, and the cDNA was then enzymatically amplified in vitro. The targeted fragment was smaller than expected from the genomic DNA analysis. By sequencing of the amplified product, we found that exon 18 was joined directly to exon 20, so that exon 19 was completely absent, suggesting that this exon was skipped during processing of the dystrophin mRNA precursor. All other bases in the amplified product were unaltered. Therefore, the data strongly suggest that the internal exon deletion generates an abnormally spliced mRNA in which the sequence of exon 18 is joined to the sequence of exon 20. We propose that the deletion is responsible for abnormal processing of the DMD Kobe allele. This finding has important implications regarding the determinants of a functional splice site.
M Matsuo, T Masumura, H Nishio, T Nakajima, Y Kitoh, T Takumi, J Koga, H Nakamura