The correlation of clinical phenotype in Friedreich ataxia with the site of point mutations in the FRDA gene
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Most cases of Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) are due to expansions of a GAA trinucleotide repeat sequence in the FRDA gene coding for frataxin, a protein of poorly understood function which may regulate mitochondrial iron transport. However, between 1% and 5% of mutations are single base changes in the sequence of the FRDA gene, causing missense, nonsense, or splicing mutations. We describe three new mutations, IVS4nt2 (T to G), R165C , and L182F , which occur in patients in association with GAA expansions. These cases, and a further five reported cases of point mutations causing FRDA, demonstrate that splicing, nonsense, or initiation codon mutations (which cause a complete absence of functional frataxin) are associated with a severe phenotype. Missense mutations, even in highly evolutionally conserved amino acids, may cause a mild or severe phenotype.
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