Health Characteristics of Patients with Cystic Fibrosis whose Genotype Includes a Variant of the Nucleotide Sequence c.3140-16T>A and Functional Analysis of this Variant

Genes (Basel). 2021 May 28;12(6):837. doi: 10.3390/genes12060837.

Abstract

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common monogenic autosomal recessive disease, associated with pathogenic variants in the CFTR gene. The splicing variant c.3140-16T>A (3272-16T>A) has been described previously and, according to the Russian CF Patients Registry, occurs with a frequency of 0.34%. The phenotypic features of CF patients with the c.3140-16T>A variant were compared with those of patients with the genotype F508del/F508del. Patients with the allele c.3140-16T>A had higher average age and age at diagnosis, and the allele was present in a greater proportion of adults. Patients carrying the c.3140-16T>A allele were characterised by better physical development indicators, both in adults and in children, had preserved pancreatic function, as well as the absence of a number of complications, and required pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy less often than patients with the F508del/F508del genotype. Sweat test values also were lower in patients with the c.3140-16T>A genotype. According to the results of clinical and laboratory studies, the phenotype of patients with the genetic variant c.3140-16T>A can be considered "mild". Functional CFTR protein activity in the presence of c.3140-16T>A was evaluated using intestinal current measurements (ICM) and the forskolin-induced swelling assay on organoids obtained from patients' rectal biopsies. c.3140-16T>A had high residual CFTR channel activity and was amenable to effective pharmacological correction with thea VX-770 potentiator. To evaluate the effect of the variant on CFTR pre-mRNA splicing we performed a minigene assay, as well as RT-PCR analysis of RNA isolated from the nasal epithelium and rectal biopsy of patients. We showed that the c.3140-16T>A variant creates a novel acceptor AG dinucleotide within CFTR intron 19, resulting in a 14-nucleotide extension of exon 20. This frameshift produces a premature termination codon and triggers mRNA degradation by the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) mechanism. Moreover, we observed that the c.3140-16T>A allele could produce a residual amount of normally spliced transcript, thus explaining the patient's mild phenotype.

Keywords: CFTR; c.3140-16T>A variant; cystic fibrosis.