Mutation analysis of retinoblastoma is considered important for genetic counseling purposes, as well as for understanding the molecular mechanisms leading to tumors with different degrees of penetrance or expressivity. In the course of an analysis of 43 hereditary retinoblastoma Spanish patients and kindred, using direct PCR sequencing, we have observed 29 mutations; most of them (62%) have not been reported previously. Of the mutations, 69% correspond to nonsense mutations (mainly CpG transitions) and frameshifts, with the expected outcome of a truncated Rb protein that lacks the functional pocket domains and tail. The remainder corresponds to splicing mutations, most of them (62%) targeted to invariant nucleotides, with the predicted consequence of out of frame exon skipping. Two of the splicing mutations in our study were found associated to families with a low-penetrance phenotype. Additionally, most of the mutations affecting splice junctions corresponded to retinoblastoma cases of either sporadic or hereditary nature with delayed onset (32 months on average). In contrast, most of the nonsense and frameshift mutations are associated with an early age at diagnosis (8.7 months on average). These differences are discussed in the context of the relationships between genotype and low expressivity phenotype. The differences in the spectrum of RB1 mutations found in this and other European surveys are also discussed in the context of alternate DNA methylation and mismatch repair phenotypes.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.