Background: Familial Mediterranean fever is an autosomal-recessive disease characterized by acute attacks of fever with sterile peritonitis, pleurisy, or synovitis. The biochemical basis of the disease is unknown, but determining the chromosomal location of the gene for the disorder should be a first step toward defining the biochemical events.
Methods and results: As part of a systematic genome-wide search, we sought evidence of linkage between familial Mediterranean fever and chromosome 16 DNA markers in 27 affected non-Ashkenazi Jewish families from Israel. Two loci from the subtelomeric region of the short arm of chromosome 16 (16p) had lod scores sufficient to establish linkage (a score greater than or equal to 3). One DNA marker (D16S84) gave a maximal lod score of 9.17 (odds of 10(9.17) to 1 in favor of linkage) at a recombination frequency (theta) of 0.04. A probe associated with the hemoglobin alpha complex (5'HVR) gave a maximal lod score of 14.47 at a theta of 0.06. Multipoint linkage analysis indicated that the following was the most likely gene order: the centromere, the gene for familial Mediterranean fever, D16S84, hemoglobin alpha, and the telomere. The maximal multipoint lod score was 19.86. There was a striking degree of homozygosity at chromosome 16p loci in the affected offspring of eight consanguineous couples.
Conclusions: The gene that causes familial Mediterranean fever in non-Ashkenazi Jews maps to the short arm of chromosome 16.