Mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene are responsible for some cases of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We have shown that SOD1 mutations can also occur in apparently sporadic ALS. To establish how often this happens we have undertaken a study of the prevalence of SOD1 mutations in an unselected cohort of Scottish ALS patients, with both sporadic (n = 57) and familial (n = 10) disease. Single strand conformation polymorphism analysis was used to scan for new mutations, and selective restriction enzyme digestion to screen for 11 of the 20 SOD1 mutations published to date. We detected mutations in five (50%) of the familial ALS patients and also in four (7%) of the sporadic patients. One mutation, ile113thr, seems to be particularly prevalent in the Scottish population since it was detected in a total of 6/67 (9%) unrelated cases.
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