Detection of the G to A mitochondrial DNA mutation at position 11778 in German families with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy
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- Kormann, B.A., Schuster, H., Berninger, T.A. et al. Hum Genet (1991) 88: 98. doi:10.1007/BF00204937
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Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is characterized by acute or subacute bilateral (usually permanent) loss of central vision, caused by neuroretinal degeneration. The maternal inheritance is explained by the mitochondrial origin of the disease. Recently, a single mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutation, a G to A substitution at position 11778 that converts a highly conserved arginine to histidine, has been associated with LHON. The mutation eliminates an SfaNI restriction enzyme recognition site and thus provides a method for detection of the muation by amplification, enzyme digestion and agarose gel electropheresis of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products. Leukocyte mtDNA from 7 German families with LHON, diagnosed by clinical criteria, was tested for the presence of the G to A mutation at bp 11778. The mtDNa mutation, detected as a loss of the SfaNI site, was seen in one family. The G to A mtDNA mutation is the only known gene alteration associated with LHON so far. It has been identified in patients of different ethnic origin and recent reports strongly support the hypothesis that it represents the most frequent cause of LHON. Identification of the mtDNA replacement mutation using PCR and restriction enzyme digestion requires only a small amount of blood and can be performed rapidly. This method is thus a useful tool in the diagnosis of LHON.