Original Article | Published:

Functional analysis of PKHD1 splicing in autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease

Journal of Human Genetics volume 51, pages 788793 (2006) | Download Citation


Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) is caused by mutations in the PKHD1 (polycystic kidney and hepatic disease 1) gene on chromosome 6p12. The longest continuous open reading frame comprises 66 exons encoding a novel 4,074 aa multidomain integral membrane protein (polyductin/fibrocystin) of unknown function. Various alternatively spliced transcripts may additionally result in different isoproteins. Overall, the large size of PKHD1, its complex pattern of splicing, multiple allelism and lack of knowledge of the encoded protein's/proteins' functions pose significant challenges to DNA-based diagnostic testing. Nucleotide substitutions, particularly if residing in regulatory elements or introns outside the splice consensus sites, are often difficult to assess without further functional analyses and cannot be unambiguously classified as disease-associated. Investigations on the transcript level, however, are hampered as PKHD1 is not widely expressed in blood lymphocytes. We thus determined the functional significance of the novel splice site mutation c.53-3C>A in intron 2 by RNA analyses by minigene-construction. The mutant allele was shown to cause skipping of exon 3. Thus, given the minigene results together with 400 control chromosomes negative for this change, segregation of the mutation with the phenotype, and a significant lowering of the strength of the splice site by bioinformatics, the mutant allele is most likely pathogenic. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that defines the consequences of a PKHD1 splice mutation and underlines the relevance of functional analyses in determining the pathogenicity of changes of unknown significance.

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  1. Department of Human Genetics, Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

    • Carsten Bergmann
    • , Valeska Frank
    • , Fabian Küpper
    • , Christa Schmidt
    • , Jan Senderek
    •  & Klaus Zerres


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Correspondence to Carsten Bergmann.

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