Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DMD and BMD) are caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. Large rearrangements in the gene are found in about two-thirds of DMD patients, with approximately 60% carrying deletions and 5-10% carrying duplications. Most of the remaining 30-35% of patients are expected to have small nucleotide substitutions, insertions, or deletions. To detect these subtle changes within the coding and splice site determining sequences of the dystrophin gene, we established a semiautomated denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) mutation scanning system. The DGGE scan covers the dystrophin gene with 95 amplicons, PCRed either individually or in a multiplex setup. PCR and pooling were performed semiautomatically, using a pipetting robot and 384-well plates, enabling concurrent amplification of DNA of four patients in one run. Amplification of individual fragments was performed using one PCR program. The products were pooled just before gel loading; DGGE requires only a single gel condition. Validation was performed using DNA samples harboring 39 known DMD variants, all of which could be readily detected. DGGE mutation scanning was applied to analyze 135 DMD/BMD patients and potential DMD carriers without large deletions or duplications. In DNA from 25 out of 44 DMD patients (57%) and from 5 out of 39 BMD patients (13%), we identified clear pathogenic changes. All mutations were different, with the exception of one DMD mutation, which occurred twice. In DNA from 10 out of 44 potential DMD carriers, including four obligate carriers, we detected causative changes, including one pathogenic change in every obligate carrier. In addition to these pathogenic changes, we detected 15 unique unclassified variants, i.e., changes for which a pathogenic nature is uncertain.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.