Date: 05 Aug 2009

SNPs: Impact on Gene Function and Phenotype

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Abstract

Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is the simplest form of DNA variation among individuals. These simple changes can be of transition or transversion type and they occur throughout the genome at a frequency of about one in 1,000 bp. They may be responsible for the diversity among individuals, genome evolution, the most common familial traits such as curly hair, interindividual differences in drug response, and complex and common diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and psychiatric disorders. SNPs may change the encoded amino acids (nonsynonymous) or can be silent (synonymous) or simply occur in the noncoding regions. They may influence promoter activity (gene expression), messenger RNA (mRNA) conformation (stability), and subcellular localization of mRNAs and/or proteins and hence may produce disease. Therefore, identification of numerous variations in genes and analysis of their effects may lead to a better understanding of their impact on gene function and health of an individual. This improved knowledge may provide a starting point for the development of new, useful SNP markers for medical testing and a safer individualized medication to treat the most common devastating disorders. This will revolutionize the medical field in the future. To illustrate the effect of SNPs on gene function and phenotype, this minireview focuses on evidences revealing the impact of SNPs on the development and progression of three human eye disorders (Norrie disease, familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, and retinopathy of prematurity) that have overlapping clinical manifestations.