Background/aims: Wilson disease is caused by a large number of different mutations in the ATP7B gene. Wilson disease patients from a homogeneous ethnical background (Saxonia) were studied for distribution and phenotypes of ATP7B mutations.
Methods: Eighty-two patients were analyzed. The H1069Q mutation was assayed by a polymerase chain reaction-based restriction fragment length polymorphism test. Exons 8 and 15 were sequenced in all, and the entire gene in 30, non-H1069Q-homozygotes.
Results: Four novel and 12 known mutations were found. Thirty-two (39%) Wilson disease patients were homozygous and 39 (48%) heterozygous for the H1069Q mutation (allele frequency 63%). Together with sequence analysis of exons 8 and 15 mutations in both alleles were identified in 65% of patients. Only one patient had both mutations at other locations. In H1069Q homozygotes symptoms started later (21.3+/-7.2 years) than in H1069Q compound heterozygotes (14.6+/-5.8, P<0.001) or H1069Q negatives (10+/-4.4, P<0.001), and they had more frequently neurologic symptoms (93 vs. 47%, P<0.001) and Kayser-Fleischer rings (82 vs. 51%, P<0.001). Mutation status did not correlate with liver biopsy findings, serum ceruloplasmin levels or (64)Cu-assay results.
Conclusions: In spite of many known ATP7B mutations, only few occur in this homogeneous population. Limited genetic testing is useful to confirm Wilson disease in this population.