Background: Neutrophils from patients with localized juvenile periodontitis (LJP) exhibit decreased binding and responsiveness to various chemotactic agents, including N-formyl-1-methionyl-1-leucyl-1-phenylalanine (FMLP). This altered reaction of neutrophils is thought to account in part for the increased susceptibility of LJP patients to infections by periodontal organisms. Receptors for FMLP are involved in the activation and the subsequent response to certain chemotactic stimuli.
Methods: In order to determine if this decreased response is due to a genetic variation in the receptor, we directly compared DNA encoding the FMLP receptor from controls matched for gender and race and LJP patients by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis (SSCP).
Results: Using this technique, we observed a characteristic SSCP pattern in 29 out of 30 patient samples in the FMLP receptor DNA. This pattern differed from those obtained from the 20 control subjects as well as 31 patients with adult periodontitis. DNA sequencing of 30 patients indicated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the FMLP receptor DNA from the LJP patients when compared to 20 controls (P = 0.0005). Two single nucleotide base alterations were consistently seen: either a thymine to cytosine substitution at base 329 in 17 LJP patients or a cytosine to guanine substitution at base 378 in 5 LJP patients. A combination of both alterations were seen in 7 LJP patients. Both alterations resulted in amino acid changes in the second intracellular loop of the receptor, specifically phenylalanine to serine at residue 110 and cysteine to tryptophan at residue 126. This region of the FMLP receptor has recently been shown to play a role in ligand binding and G-protein activation.
Conclusions: This study suggests that a molecular alteration in the second intracellular loop of the FMLP receptor molecules in LP patients may play a role in the decreased chemotactic activity reported for some LJP patients.