DNA from 100 unrelated patients, 97 of whom were Jewish and three half- Jewish, was analyzed for 22 mutations known to cause Gaucher disease. All but seven of the alleles were identified as having previously described mutations. Five of the unidentified mutations proved to be a previously undescribed nucleotide substitution in a splice junction (IVS2+1) that causes skipping of exon 2. Thus, only 2 of 197 alleles remained unidentified. Homozygotes for the most common mutation, that a nucleotide (nt) 1226, manifested, on average, the mildest disease and the latest age of onset. The mutation at nt 84 and the newly described IVS2+1 mutation, which do not produce any enzyme, were associated with earlier onset and more severe disease. Five of the mutations were considered to be “public,” in the sense that they were found in more than one unrelated individual. Screening for these five mutations permitted detection of 97.5% of all Gaucher alleles in this patient population. Because the mutation at nt 1226 is underrepresented in the patient population and because not all homozygotes come to medical attention, screening the Ashkenazi population using DNA analysis should detect approximately 99% of all heterozygotes.
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