Background: Familial Mediterranean fever is a recessive autoinflammatory disease frequently encountered in Armenians, Jews, Arabs and Turks. The MEFV gene is responsible for the disease. It encodes a protein called pyrin/marenostrin involved in the innate immune system. A large number of clinically diagnosed FMF patients carry only one MEFV mutation. This study aims at studying the MEFV gene splicing pattern in heterozygous FMF patients and healthy individuals, in an attempt to understand the mechanism underlying the disease in these patients.
Methods: RNA was extracted from peripheral blood leucocytes of 41 FMF patients and 34 healthy individuals. RT-PCR was then performed, and the amplified products were migrated on a polyacrylamide electrophoresis gel, characterized by gel extraction of the corresponding bands followed by sequencing.
Results: Five novel splicing events were observed in both patients and controls deleting either exons 3, 4 (del34), or exons 2, 3, 4 (del234), or exons 2, 3, 4, 5 (del2345) or exon7 (del7) or exons 7 and 8 (del78).
Conclusions: The observation of such qualitative variability in the expression of the MEFV gene suggests a complex transcriptional regulation. However, the expression of these novel transcripts in both patients and controls is not in favour of a severe pathogenic effect.