Eukaryotic cells can be protected against mutations that generate stop codons by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) and/or nonsense-associated altered splicing (NAS). However, the processes are only partially understood and do not always occur. In this work, we study these phenomena in the stop codon mutations c.109G>T (p.Glu37*) and c.504_505delCT; the second and third most frequent mutations in HMG-CoA lyase deficiency (MIM #246450). The deficiency affects the synthesis of ketone bodies and produces severe disorders during early childhood. We used a minigene approach, real-time quantitative PCR and the inhibition of NMD by puromycin treatment, to study the effect of stop codons on splicing (NAS) and NMD in seven patients. Surprisingly, none of the stop codons studied appears to be the direct cause of aberrant splicing. In the mutation c.109G>T, the splicing is due to the base change G>T at position 109, which is critical and cannot be explained by disruption of exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) elements, by the appearance of exonic splicing silencer (ESS) elements which were predicted by bioinformatic tools or by the stop codons. Moreover, the mutation c.504_505delCT produces two mRNA transcripts both with stop codons that generate simultaneous NMD phenomena. The effects of the mutations studied on splicing seemed to be similar in all the patients. Furthermore, we report a Spanish patient with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaric aciduria and a novel missense mutation: c.825C>G (p.Asn275Lys).
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