Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is an autosomal recessive condition that is almost entirely restricted to the non-Askhenazi Jews, Arabs, Armenians, and Turks. Genetic linkage study of a large group of non-Turkish families has previously mapped the FMF locus to the 16p13.3 region and shown that this locus resides 0.305 cM distal to D16S246. Furthermore, allelic association has also been shown with D16S3070 (75%) and D16S3275 (66%). However, no genetic heterogeneity has been described for any of the three major reported groups of FMF families. Here, we describe the genetic linkage relationship of the fourth major group of Turkish families and report the first evidence for genetic heterogeneity of this condition. Two point linkage analysis and haplotype inspection of 15 DNA markers from the reported region of the FMF locus identified tight linkage in a group of six Turkish FMF families. A maximum lod score of 9.115 at theta = 0.00 was observed for D16S3024. Nine other DNA markers provided similar evidence of linkage with lod score values of above 5.21. However, two other FMF families were completely unlinked to this region of chromosome 16. Haplotype construction of DNA markers in five consanguineous linked families showed that a segment of homozygosity has been conserved for D16S3070 and D16S2617. No other DNA markers showed any such conservation. Therefore, we suggested that these two markers reside in close proximity to the FMF locus. Furthermore, we observed 80% allelic association with D16S2617 but no association with D16S3070 or any other DNA markers from the FMF critical region. In summary, we conclude that our Turkish families are also linked to the reported FMF locus at 16p13.3, there is a genetic heterogeneity for this condition at least in our group of Turkish families, and D16S2617 is in linkage disequilibrium in the Turkish FMF families. Combination of this study with previously published observations suggests that the FMF locus resides between D16S246 and D16S3070/D16S2617 and within a region of about 250-300 kb.
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