Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are vascular abnormalities of the brain that can result in a variety of neurological disabilities, including hemorrhagic stroke and seizures. Mutations in the gene KRIT1 are responsible for CCM1, mutations in the gene MGC4607 are responsible for CCM2, and mutations in the gene PDCD10 are responsible for CCM3. DNA sequence analysis of the known CCM genes in a cohort of 63 CCM-affected families showed that a high proportion (40%) of these lacked any identifiable mutation. We used multiplex ligation-dependent probe analysis to screen 25 CCM1, -2, and -3 mutation-negative probands for potential deletions or duplications within all three CCM genes. We identified a total of 15 deletions: 1 in the CCM1 gene, O in the CCM3 gene, and 14 in the CCM2 gene. In our cohort, mutation screening that included sequence and deletion analyses gave disease-gene frequencies of 40% for CCM1, 38% for CCM2, 6% for CCM3, and 16% with no mutation detected. These data indicate that the prevalence of CCM2 is much higher than previously predicted, nearly equal to CCM1, and that large genomic deletions in the CCM2 gene represent a major component of this disease. A common 77.6-kb deletion spanning CCM2 exons 2-10 was identified, which is present in 13% of our entire CCM cohort. Eight probands exhibit an apparently identical recombination event in the CCM2 gene, involving an AluSx in intron 1 and an AluSg distal to exon 10. Haplotype analysis revealed that this CCM2 deletion occurred independently at least twice in our families. We hypothesize that these deletions occur in a hypermutable region because of surrounding repetitive sequence elements that may catalyze the formation of intragenic deletions.
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