Heterogeneity of mutations in the ferrochelatase gene in Italian patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria

Caterina Aurizi, Xiaoye Schneider-Yin, Fiammetta Sorge, Annelisa Macrì, Elisabeth I. Minder, Gianfranco Biolcati

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Mutations and a low-expressed allele IVS3-48c (in trans to the mutation) of the ferrochelatase (FECH) gene are responsible for erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) which is characterized clinically by cutaneous photosensitivity. In this study of 15 Italian EPP families, we identified 10 different FECH gene mutations, six of them were novel mutations (Q32X; IVS2-2, a → g; IVS3-67, g → a; 488-501del 14bp; IVS5-3, c → t and 757-761delAGAAG). Four were known mutations (213insT; R115X; S264L and 899-900delTG). Real-time PCR quantification of FECH mRNA from a patient carrying mutation IVS-67, g → a revealed a 51% reduction in the normal FECH transcript. This mutation generated an abnormal mRNA species with a 63-bp intron 3 retention-the same mRNA species which the low-expressed FECH allele IVS3-48c also produces. In addition, a double intronic deletion (IVS8-61 del ag /IVS9-58 del a) was found in some patients as well as their healthy relatives of this cohort. Sequencing of 50 Italian control subjects revealed an 11% prevalence of the double deletion. However, the double intronic deletion is not a disease-causing mutation as evidenced by a normal amount of FECH mRNA measured from a non-porphyric individual who carried the double deletion. Another interesting finding of this study was a 1% prevalence of IVS3-48c allele in the white Italian population, comparing to 11% in the French population. Further epidemiological studies are needed to test whether the 1% frequency of the low-expressed IVS3-48c allele is associated with a low prevalence of EPP in the white Italian population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-407
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • Erythropoietic protoporphyria
  • Ferrochelatase
  • Mutation
  • Quantitative real-time PCR
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism
  • Splice defect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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