Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is caused by mutations in a tumour suppressor gene located on chromosome 17 (17q11.2). Disease causing mutations are dispersed throughout the gene, which spans 350 kilobases and includes 59 exons. A common consequence of NF1 mutations is introduction of a premature stop codon, and the majority of mutant genes encode truncated forms of neurofibromin. We used a protein truncation assay to screen for mutations in 15 NF1 patients and obtained positive results in 11 of them (73%). Sequencing of cDNA and genomic DNA yielded identification of 10 different mutations, including four splicing errors, three small deletions, two nonsense mutations, and one small insertion. Nine mutations were predicted to cause premature termination of translation, while one mutation caused in frame deletion as a result ofexon skipping. In one other case involving abnormal splicing, five different aberrantly spliced transcripts were detected. One germline nonsense mutation (R1306X, 3916C>T) corresponded to the same base change that occurs by mRNA editing in normal subjects. The second nonsense mutation (R2496X) was the sole germline mutation that has been previously described. The subjects studied represented typically affected NF1 patients and no correlations between genotype and phenotype were apparent. A high incidence of ocular hypertelorism was observed.
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