High frequency of alkaptonuria in Slovakia: evidence for the appearance of multiple mutations in HGO involving different mutational hot spots

Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Nov;67(5):1333-9. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9297(07)62964-4. Epub 2000 Oct 2.


Alkaptonuria (AKU) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by the deficiency of homogentisate 1,2 dioxygenase (HGO) activity. AKU shows a very low prevalence (1:100,000-250,000) in most ethnic groups. One notable exception is in Slovakia, where the incidence of AKU rises to 1:19,000. This high incidence is difficult to explain by a classical founder effect, because as many as 10 different AKU mutations have been identified in this relatively small country. We have determined the allelic associations of 11 HGO intragenic polymorphisms for 44 AKU chromosomes from 20 Slovak pedigrees. These data were compared to the HGO haplotype data available in our laboratory for >80 AKU chromosomes from different European and non-European countries. The results show that common European AKU chromosomes have had only a marginal contribution to the Slovak AKU gene pool. Six of the ten Slovak AKU mutations, including the prevalent G152fs, G161R, G270R, and P370fs mutations, most likely originated in Slovakia. Data available for 17 Slovak AKU pedigrees indicate that most of the AKU chromosomes have their origins in a single very small region in the Carpathian mountains, in the northwestern part of the country. Since all six Slovak AKU mutations are associated with HGO mutational hot spots, we suggest that an increased mutation rate at the HGO gene is responsible for the clustering of AKU mutations in such a small geographical region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaptonuria / enzymology*
  • Alkaptonuria / epidemiology
  • Alkaptonuria / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Dioxygenases*
  • Europe
  • Gene Pool
  • Geography
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Homogentisate 1,2-Dioxygenase
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mutagenesis / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Oxygenases / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Slovakia / epidemiology


  • Oxygenases
  • Dioxygenases
  • Homogentisate 1,2-Dioxygenase