Familial dysautonomia (FD) is an autosomal recessive congenital neuropathy that occurs almost exclusively in the Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) population. Mutations in the IkappaB kinase complex-associated protein (IKBKAP) gene cause FD. Two IKBKAP mutations, IVS20(+6T --> C) and R696P, have been identified in FD patients of AJ descent. The splice site mutation IVS20(+6T --> C) is responsible for > 99.5% of known AJ patients with FD, and haplotype analyses were consistent with a common founder. In contrast, the R696P mutation has been identified in only a few AJ patients. To facilitate carrier detection, a single PCR and allele-specific oligonucleotide (ASO) hybridization assay was developed to facilitate the detection of both the IVS20(+6T --> C) and R696P mutations. Screening of 2,518 anonymous AJ individuals from the New York metropolitan area revealed a carrier frequency for IVS20(+6T --> C) of 1 in 32 (3.2%; 95% CI, 2.5-3.9%), similar to the previously estimated carrier frequency (3.3%) based on disease incidence. No carrier was identified for the R696P lesion, indicating that the mutation was rare in this population (< 1 in 2,500). This sensitive and specific assay should facilitate carrier screening for FD mutations in the AJ community, as well as postnatal diagnostic testing.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.