The Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) is a phenotypically variable metabolic malformation and mental retardation syndrome for which more than 80 mutations in the DHCR7 disease-causing gene have been described. The DHCR7 mutational spectra differ significantly in different areas of Europe, and several common putative founder mutations account for a substantial fraction of all mutations in some ethnic groups. Here we have analysed 47 SLOS patients and describe 14 newly identified mutations in 18 SLOS patients of Ashkenazi Jewish, Austrian, British, German, Italian, Irish, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish origins. Half of the new mutations are in the transmembrane domains of the protein. In addition, there were two null mutations, one mutation in the 4th cytoplasmic loop, two mutations in the first and last codons, and three mutations in other regions such as the second cytoplasmic loop and the first endoplasmic loop. The analysis included 20 Spanish and 12 Italian SLOS patients and revealed very different mutation spectra in these patients compared to previously described patients from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, and the UK and implicated p.Thr93Met on the J haplotype as the most frequent Mediterranean founder mutation.
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