Fifty percent of Diamond–Blackfan anemia (DBA) patients possess mutations in ribosomal protein genes. Although several ribosomal protein genes, RPL5, RPL11, RPL35A, RPS7, RPS10, RPS17, RPS19, RPS24, and RPS26, have been reported to be mutated in some DBA patients, including point mutations, nonsense mutations, deletions, splice site mutations, and translocations, other DBA patients appear to have intact ribosomal protein genes. To identify new mutations in ribosomal protein genes from a different aspect, we focused on extensive deletions in these genes, such as mutations involving loss of a whole allele. In this study, we applied quantitative genomic PCR, and successfully developed a convenient method for detecting extensive deletions designated the “DBA gene copy number assay”.
DBA patients should have an intact allele and a mutated allele for the responsible ribosomal protein gene, meaning that they will have an abnormal karyotype (gene copy number of N) if they have an extensive deletion. We attempted to clarify the copy numbers of ribosomal protein genes by the difference in a 1-cycle delay of threshold in a quantitative PCR (q-PCR) assay. To detect extensive deletions, at least 2 sets of gene-specific primers for each DBA responsible gene (RPL5, RPL11, RPL35A, RPS7, RPS10, RPS17, RPS19, RPS24, and RPS26) were prepared. Appropriate primers to fit the setting that the threshold cycle (Ct) of the q-PCR should occur within 1 cycle of the Ct scores of other primer sets were selected. After validation, we identified 6, 3, 4, 3, 3, 6, 9, 3, and 2 specific primer sets for RPL5, RPL11, RPL35A, RPS7, RPS10, RPS17, RPS19, RPS24, and RPS26, respectively. By simply looking at the q-PCR amplification curves by eye, we were easily able to judge the copy numbers of 2N (normal) or N (abnormal) for the ribosomal protein genes. Results: We performed the DBA gene copy number assay for 14 randomly selected undiagnosed patients from the Japanese DBA genomic resource at the University of Hirosaki, who had no mutations by genomic sequencing analyses. For each case, all the DBA responsible genes were confirmed using the diagnostic primers. The results of the DBA gene copy number assays revealed that 5 of the 14 probands (36%) had an extensive deletion in one of the DBA responsible genes. As an interesting case among the 5 positive cases, we confirmed an extensive deletion in the RPS19 gene. The Ct scores for 4 of the 9 primer sets for RPS19 demonstrated a 1-cycle delay, while the scores for the other 5 primer sets were normal. By genomic PCR amplification analyses, we identified a deletion from nt. -1400 to +5757 (7157 nucleotides) in the RPS19 gene. The deleted region included the promoter region, and exons 1, 2, and 3 of the RPS19 gene. The remaining 4 cases were 1 proband with an RPL5 deletion, 1 with an RPL35A deletion and 2 with RPS17 deletions. In particular, the extensive deletions in the RPL5 and RPS17 alleles are the first such cases reported.
Since it has been difficult to address the loss of a whole allele in DBA, such mutations have not been precisely examined within the DBA responsible genes. Our data suggest that extensive deletions in ribosomal protein genes comprise a significant proportion of DBA cases in Japan. Our novel method could become a useful tool for screening the gene copy numbers of ribosomal protein genes, and for identifying new pathological mutations.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.