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Substitution of aspartate for glycine 1018 in the type III procollagen (COL3A1) gene causes type IV Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: the mutated allele is present in most blood leukocytes of the asymptomatic and mosaic mother.

  • S Kontusaari
  • G Tromp
  • H Kuivaniemi
  • C Stolle
  • F M Pope
  • D J Prockop
Publication Date
Sep 01, 1992


A proband with arterial ruptures and skin changes characteristic of the type IV variant of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome was found to have a single-base mutation in the type III procollagen gene, which converted the codon for glycine at amino acid position 1018 to a codon for aspartate. (Amino acid positions are numbered by the standard convention in which the first glycine of the triple-helical domain of an alpha chain is number 1. The numbers of positions in the alpha 1(III) chains can be converted to positions in the human pro alpha(III) chain by adding 167.) Nucleotide sequencing of overlapping PCR products in which the two alleles were distinguished demonstrated that the mutation of glycine 1018 was the only mutation that changed the primary structure of type III procollagen. The glycine substitution markedly decreased the amount of type III procollagen secreted into the medium by cultured skin fibroblasts from the proband. It is surprising that the same mutation was found in about 94% of the peripheral blood leukocytes from the proband's asymptomatic 72-year-old mother. Other tissues from the mother contained the mutated allele; it was present in 0%-100% of different samples of hair cells and in about 40% of cells from the oral epithelium. Therefore, the mother was a mosaic for the mutation. Since the mutated allele was present in cells derived from all three germ layers, the results indicated that the mutation arose by the late blastocyst stage of development. The results also indicate that assays of blood leukocytes do not always reveal mosaicism or predict phenotypic involvement of tissues, such as blood vessels, that are derived from the same embryonic cells as are leukocytes.


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