Regional distribution of mutations of the ATP7B gene in patients with Wilson disease: impact on genetic testing

Hum Genet. 2006 Sep;120(2):151-9. doi: 10.1007/s00439-006-0202-5. Epub 2006 Jun 22.


Wilson disease is an autosomal recessive inherited disorder of copper metabolism. The Wilson disease gene codes for a copper transporting P-type ATPase (ATP7B). Molecular genetic analysis reveals at least 300 distinct mutations. While most reported mutations occur in single families, a few are more common. The most common mutation in patients from Central, Eastern, and Northern Europe is the point mutation H1069Q (exon 14). About 50-80% of Wilson disease (WD) patients from these countries carry at least one allele with this mutation with an allele frequency ranging between 30 and 70%. Other common mutations in Central and Eastern Europe are located on exon 8 (2299insC, G710S), exon 15 (3400delC) and exon 13 (R969Q). The allele frequency of these mutations is lower than 10%. In Mediterranean countries there is a wide range of mutations, the frequency of each of them varies considerably from country to country. In Sardinia, a unique deletion in the 5' UTR (-441/-427 del) is very frequent. In mainland Spain the missense mutation M645R in exon 6 is particularly common. Data from non-European countries are scarce. Most data from Asia are from Far Eastern areas (China, South Korea and Japan) where the R778L missense mutation in exon 8 is found with an allele frequency of 14-49%. In summary, given the constant improvement of analytic tools genetic testing will become an integral part for the diagnosis of WD. Knowledge of the differences in the worldwide distribution of particular mutations will help to design shortcuts for genetic diagnosis of WD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics*
  • Asia
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Copper-Transporting ATPases
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Europe
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • ATP7B protein, human
  • Copper-Transporting ATPases