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Screening for UBE3A gene mutations in a group of Angelman syndrome patients selected according to non-stringent clinical criteria

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The Angelman syndrome (AS) is caused by genetic abnormalities affecting the maternal copy of chromosome region 15q12. Until recently, the molecular diagnosis of AS relied on the detection of either a deletion at 15q11–13, a paternal uniparental disomy (UPD) for chromosome 15 or imprinting mutations. A fourth class of genetic defects underlying AS was recently described and consists of mutations of the UBE3A gene. The vast majority of mutations reported so far are predicted to cause major disruptions at the protein level. It is unclear whether mutations with less drastic consequences for the gene product could lead to milder forms of AS. We report on our results obtained by screening 101 clinically diagnosed AS patients for mutations in the UBE3A gene. Non-stringent clinical criteria were purposely applied for inclusion of AS patients in this study. The mutation search was carried out by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP), and SSCP/restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analyses and revealed five novel UBE3A gene mutations as well as three different polymorphisms. All five mutations were detected in patients with typical features of AS and are predicted to cause frameshifts in four cases and the substitution of a highly conserved residue in the fifth. The results we obtained add to the as yet limited number of reports concerning UBE3A gene mutations. Important aspects that emerge from the data available to date is that the four classes of genetic defects known to underlie AS do not appear to cover all cases. The genetic defect underlying approximately 10% of AS cases, including some familial cases, remains unknown.

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Correspondence to A. Baumer.

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Baumer, A., Balmer, D. & Schinzel, A. Screening for UBE3A gene mutations in a group of Angelman syndrome patients selected according to non-stringent clinical criteria. Hum Genet 105, 598–602 (1999).

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