The molecular lesions causing beta-thalassemia in Sicily can be subdivided into two groups. One that occurs at a 71% frequency and consists of the beta 39, IVS 1,110 and IVS 1,6 mutations and the other group at a 20% frequency comprising the -87, beta s, IVS 1,1 and IVS 2,745 mutations. The identification of all these mutations by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and conventional dot-blot hybridization has been time consuming and expensive. In this article, we describe the implementation of the reverse dot-blot (RDB) hybridization as a rapid nonradioactive method for the identification of the nine most frequent molecular lesions in the beta-globin gene (-87, beta s, beta c, IVS 1,1, IVS 1,6, IVS 1,110, beta 39, IVS 2,1, IVS 2,745) in Sicily. Sixty prenatal diagnoses were performed by this RDB assay, each of which was confirmed by dot-blot/ASO hybridization; thus demonstrating the accuracy of the RDB. The main advantage of this assay is the rapid typing of an individual's DNA for many mutations in a single working day. Because the mutations in this assay are representative for the Mediterranean region, this mutational panel can also be extended to the screening of beta-thalassemia from other Mediterranean regions.

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