, Volume 115, Issue 6, pp 475-482

The human T locus and spina bifida risk

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The transcription factor T is essential for mesoderm formation and axial development during embryogenesis. Embryonic genotype for a single-nucleotide polymorphism in intron 7 of T (TIVS7 T/C) has been associated with the risk of spina bifida in some but not all studies. We developed a novel genotyping assay for the TIVS7 polymorphism using heteroduplex generator methology. This assay was used to genotype spina bifida case—parent trios and the resulting data were analyzed using the transmission disequilibrium test and log-linear analyses. Analyses of these data demonstrated that heterozygous parents transmit the TIVS7-C allele to their offspring with spina bifida significantly more frequently than expected under the assumption of Mendelian inheritance (63 vs 50%, P=0.02). Moreover, these analyses suggest that the TIVS7-C allele acts in a dominant fashion, such that individuals carrying one or more copies of this allele have a 1.6-fold increased risk of spina bifida compared with individuals with zero copies. In silico analysis of the sequence surrounding this polymorphism revealed a potential target site for olfactory neuron-specific factor-1, a transcription factor expressed in the neural tube during development, spanning the polymorphic site. Several other putative, developmentally important and/or environmentally responsive transcription factor-binding sites were also identified close to the TIVS7 polymorphism. The TIVS7 polymorphism or a variant that is in linkage disequilibrium with the TIVS7 polymorphism may, therefore, play a role in T gene expression and influence the risk of spina bifida.