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A founder mutation of the potassium channel KCNQ1 in long QT syndrome: implications for estimation of disease prevalence and molecular diagnostics.

K Piippo, H Swan, M Pasternack, H Chapman, K Paavonen, M Viitasalo, L Toivonen, K Kontula

J. Am. Coll. Cardiol., 2001 Feb , 37, 562-8

OBJECTIVES: We took advantage of the genetic isolate of Finns to characterize a common long QT syndrome (LQTS) mutation, and to estimate the prevalence of LQTS. BACKGROUND: The LQTS is caused by mutations in different ion channel genes, which vary in their molecular nature from family to family. METHODS: The potassium channel gene KCNQ1 was sequenced in two unrelated Finnish patients with Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS), followed by genotyping of 114 LQTS probands and their available family members. The functional properties of the mutation were studied using a whole-cell patch-damp technique. RESULTS: We identified a novel missense mutation (G589D or KCNQ1-Fin) in the C-terminus of the KCNQ1 subunit. The voltage threshold of activation for the KCNQ1-Fin channel was markedly increased compared to the wild-type channel. This mutation was present in homozygous form in two siblings with JLNS, and in heterozygous form in 34 of 114 probands with Romano-Ward syndrome (RWS) and 282 family members. The mean (+/- SD) rate-corrected QT intervals of the heterozygous subjects (n = 316) and noncarriers (n = 423) were 460 +/- 40 ms and 410 +/- 20 ms (p < 0.001), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: A single missense mutation of the KCNQ1 gene accounts for 30% of Finnish cases with LQTS, and it may be associated with both the RWS and JLNS phenotypes of the syndrome. The relative enrichment of this mutation most likely represents a founder gene effect. These circumstances provide an excellent opportunity to examine how genetic and nongenetic factors modify the LQTS phenotype.