Mutations, haplotypes, and other polymorphic markers in the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) gene were analysed in 133 unrelated Czech families with classical phenylketonuria (PKU). Almost 95% of all mutant alleles were identified, using a combination of PCR and restriction analysis, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), and sequencing. A total of 30 different mutations, 16 various RFLP/VNTR haplotypes, and four polymorphisms were detected on 266 independent mutant chromosomes. The most common molecular defect observed in the Czech population was R408W (54.9%). Each of the other 29 mutations was present in no more than 5% of alleles and 13 mutations were found in only one PKU allele each (0.4%). Four novel mutations G239A, R270fsdel5bp, A342P, and IVS11nt-8g-->a were identified. In 14 (5.1%) alleles, linked to four different RFLP/VNTR haplotypes, the sequence alterations still remain unknown. Our results confirm that PKU is a heterogeneous disorder at the molecular level. Since there is evidence for the gene flow coming from northern, western, and southern parts of Europe into our Slavic population, it is clear that human migration has been the most important factor in the spread of PKU alleles in Europe.
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