Journal Article

Detection of a Normally Rare Transcript in Propionic Acidemia Patients with mRNA Destabilizing Mutations in the <i>PCCA</i> Gene

Eric Campeau, Lucie Dupuis, Daniel Leclerc and Roy A. Gravel

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 8, issue 1, pages 107-113
Published in print January 1999 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online January 1999 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:
Detection of a Normally Rare Transcript in Propionic Acidemia Patients with mRNA Destabilizing Mutations in the PCCA Gene

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Propionic acidemia is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by a deficiency in the mitochondrial enzyme propionyl-CoA carboxylase (PCC). PCC is composed of two subunits, α and β, encoded by the PCCA and PCCB genes, respectively. We analyzed mutations of the PCCA gene using patients' fibroblasts diagnosed with α subunit deficiency. By RT-PCR, four of 12 cell lines examined appeared to have a larger transcript present at a level comparable with that of the expected normal species. Sequencing of the larger transcript revealed an 84 bp insertion at nt 1209 of the coding sequence. Its incorporation in the transcript results in translation termination due to the presence of two inframe stop codons. The 84 bp insertion was found to originate from the intron between nt 1209 and 1210. Consensus splice donor and acceptor sites were found at the 3′- and 5′-ends of the insertion, respectively. The insertion was also found in the remaining eight cell lines as well as in normal cells, but at a much reduced level compared with the normal length sequence. Mutation analysis of the four cell lines showing seemingly elevated levels of the insertion sequence revealed one nonsense mutation (R288X), two frameshift deletions (700del5 and 1115del4) and one splice mutation (1671IVS+5G→C) as expressed alleles. We conclude that the common characteristic of the four cell lines is that they contain mRNA destabilizing mutations that reduce the mRNA level of the normal length sequence. Consequently, the low levels of cryptic mRNAs become detectable at a level similar to that of the residual level of the normal length mRNA. We suggest that screening for an increased proportion of the 84 bp insertion by RT-PCR can be used as a rapid assay for RNA destabilizing mutations. Our results suggest caution in associating such mutations with aberrant mRNA species, such as cryptic splice products, which may instead be part of the ‘background noise’ of the splicing machinery.

Journal Article.  5606 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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