More than 30% of Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DMD/BMD) patients have no gross DNA rearrangements like deletions or duplications. The large size of the coding sequence of the dystrophin gene (11 kilobases) complicates systematic identification of point mutations. Recently reported approaches based on genomic DNA or mRNA show that chemical cleavage of mismatches is an effective but time consuming and technically demanding method for the identification of point mutations in the human dystrophin gene. We have used a fast and convenient system consisting of PCR amplification of genomic DNA, non-isotopic SSCP analysis, and direct sequencing of PCR products for the detection of mutations in exon 13 and adjacent intron sequences. Sixty-eight DMD patients without detectable deletions or duplications were analysed, resulting in the identification of a point mutation in the coding sequence and two polymorphisms in the 5' flanking intron. The C to T change of the first nucleotide in the third triplet leads to a stop codon and seems to be the cause of the functional deficiency of the gene product in this patient.
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