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A KCNH2 branch point mutation causing aberrant splicing contributes to an explanation of genotype-negative long QT syndrome.

Lia Crotti, Marzena A Lewandowska, Peter J Schwartz, Roberto Insolia, Matteo Pedrazzini, Erica Bussani, Federica Dagradi, Alfred L George, Franco Pagani

Heart Rhythm, 2009 Feb , 6, 212-8

BACKGROUND: Genetic screening of long QT syndrome (LQTS) fails to identify disease-causing mutations in about 30% of patients. So far, molecular screening has focused mainly on coding sequence mutations or on substitutions at canonical splice sites. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to explore the possibility that intronic variants not at canonical splice sites might affect splicing regulatory elements, lead to aberrant transcripts, and cause LQTS. METHOD: Molecular screening was performed through DHPLC and sequence analysis. The role of the intronic mutation identified was assessed with a hybrid minigene splicing assay. RESULTS: A three-generation LQTS family was investigated. Molecular screening failed to identify an obvious disease-causing mutation in the coding sequences of the major LQTS genes but revealed an intronic A-to-G substitution in KCNH2 (IVS9-28A/G) cosegregating with the clinical phenotype in family members. In vitro analysis proved that the mutation disrupts the acceptor splice site definition by affecting the branch point (BP) sequence and promoting intron retention. We further demonstrated a tight functional relationship between the BP and the polypyrimidine tract, whose weakness is responsible for the pathological effect of the IVS9-28A/G mutation. CONCLUSIONS: We identified a novel BP mutation in KCNH2 that disrupts the intron 9 acceptor splice site definition and causes LQT2. The present finding demonstrates that intronic mutations affecting pre-mRNA processing may contribute to the failure of traditional molecular screening in identifying disease-causing mutations in LQTS subjects and offers a rationale strategy for the reduction of genotype-negative cases.