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Skipping of Exon 1 in the KCNQ1 gene causes Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome.

Joerg Zehelein, Sven Kathoefer, Markus Khalil, Markus Alter, Dierk Thomas, Konrad Brockmeier, Herbert E Ulmer, Hugo A Katus, Michael Koenen

J. Biol. Chem., 2006 Nov 17 , 281, 35397-403

The Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS) is a rare autosomal recessive form of the long QT syndrome linked with a profound hearing loss caused by mutations affecting both alleles of either the KCNQ1 or the KCNE1 gene. We carried out a mutant screening of the KCNQ1 and KCNE1 genes in a clinical diagnosed German family with JLNS. Family members were examined by single strand conformation polymorphism analysis and PCR and amplified products were characterized by DNA sequence analysis. We identified a splice donor mutation of exon 1 in the KCNQ1 gene (G477+1A). Analysis of lymphocyte RNA by RT-PCR revealed that two symptomatic patients, homozygous for the mutant allele, exclusively produce KCNQ1 transcripts lacking exon 1 leading to a frameshift that introduced a premature termination codon at exon 4. Mutant subunits, functionally characterized in Xenpous oocytes, were unable to form homomeric channels but strongly reduced IKs (slowly activating delayed rectifier potassium current) in vitro (mutant isoforms 1 and 2 by 62 and 86%, respectively), a fact supposed to lead to severely affected heterozygous individuals. However, individuals heterozygous for the mutant allele exhibit an asymptomatic cardiac phenotype. Thus, the observed dominant-negative effect of mutant subunits in vitro is absent in vivo leaving heterozygous individuals unaffected. These data suggest mechanisms that prevent production of truncated KCNQ1 channel subunits in cardiomyocytes of individuals heterozygous for the mutant allele.