In vitro analysis of splice site mutations in the CLCN1 gene using the minigene assay

Gianna Ulzi, Valeria A. Sansone, Francesca Magri, Stefania Corti, Nereo Bresolin, Giacomo P. Comi, Sabrina Lucchiari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mutations in the chloride channel gene CLCN1 cause the allelic disorders Thomsen (dominant) and Becker (recessive) myotonia congenita (MC). The encoded protein, ClC-1, is the primary channel that mediates chloride (Cl-) conductance in skeletal muscle. Mutations in CLCN1 lower the channel's threshold voltage, leading to spontaneous action potentials that are not coupled to neuromuscular transmission and resulting in myotonia. Over 120 mutations in CLCN1 have been described, 10% of which are splicing defects. Biological specimens suitable for RNA extraction are not always available, but obtaining genomic DNA for analysis is easy and non-invasive. This is the first study to evaluate the pathogenic potential of novel splicing mutations using the minigene approach, which is based on genomic DNA analysis. Splicing mutations accounted for 23% of all pathogenic variants in our cohort of MC patients. Four were heterozygous mutations in four unrelated individuals, belonging to this cohort: c.563G>T in exon 5; c.1169-5T>G in intron 10; c.1251+1G>A in intron 11, and c.1931- 2A>G in intron 16. These variants were expressed in HEK 293 cells, and aberrant splicing was verified by in vitro transcription and sequencing of the cDNA. Our findings confirm the need to further investigate the nature of rearrangements associated with this class of mutations and their effects on mature transcripts. In particular, splicing mutations predicted to generate in-frame transcripts may generate out-of-frame mRNA transcripts that do not produce functional ClC-1. Clinically, incomplete molecular evaluation could lead to delayed or faulty diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2865-2874
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Becker's generalized myotonia
  • Channelopathy
  • CLCN1 gene
  • Minigene
  • Myotonia congenita

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medicine(all)


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