Fucosidosis is a rare, autosomal recessive, lysosomal storage disease, resulting from a deficiency of the enzyme alpha-fucosidase (EC 18.104.22.168). It is characterised clinically by progressive mental and motor deterioration, growth retardation, coarse facies, and often recurrent infections, but the course of the disease is variable. The gene encoding lysosomal alpha-fucosidase has been mapped to the short arm of chromosome 1 at position 1p34.1-36.1 and has been called FUCA1. Two mutations causing disease have been described previously, a C-->T change in exon 8 giving rise to a premature, in frame TAA stop codon, and a deletion of at least two exons from the 3' end of the gene. In this paper we present evidence that a homozygous G-->A transition in the first position of the 5' splice site of intron 5 of FUCA1 is the disease causing mutation in a 9 year old child of distantly related parents. A new banding pattern was detected in the patient by Southern blotting of genomic DNA using TaqI restriction and a cDNA FUCA1 probe. The patient was homozygous for this pattern. Three sibs with alpha-fucosidase activity below the normal reference range and both parents were heterozygous. This pattern was not detected in 26 other fucosidosis patients and has not been found in any controls. The mutation was localised by a combination of restriction mapping using different cDNA probes, single stranded conformational polymorphism analysis of exons and flanking regions amplified by the polymerase chain reaction, and by direct sequencing of the amplified sequence. A view of the nature of the mutation, its cosegregation with the disease mutation and its absence in controls, it is probable that the 5' splice site mutation causes fucosidosis in this child.
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