Homonucleotide tracts, short repeats and CpG/CpNpG motifs are frequent sites for heterogeneous mutations in the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) tumour-suppressor gene

Mutat Res. 1997 Feb 3;373(2):185-95. doi: 10.1016/s0027-5107(96)00171-6.


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is among the most common human genetic disorders, having a constellation of cutaneous and skeletal manifestations, intellectual impairment, and an increased risk for a variety of malignancies. The NF1 gene has a high spontaneous mutation rate and is also associated with a variety of sporadic cancers in the general population. While a number of laboratories are involved in a coordinated effort to identify NF1 mutations, an important gap in our knowledge is an understanding of the mechanisms responsible for NF1 mutagenesis. In this present paper we describe our analysis of the sequence environment in the NF1 gene at those sites where small deletions, insertions and nucleotide substitution mutations have been reported. Our objective was to determine whether specific nucleotide sequences commonly occur at these mutation sites within the NF1 gene. We assessed how frequently independent NF1 mutations occur at the site of short direct repeats, single nucleotide repeats (homonucleotides) and at CpG and CpNpG motifs. We have established that homonucleotide and short direct repeats are commonly involved in the majority of small deletions and insertions analysed. Substitution mutations are frequently associated with homonucleotide repeats and methylatable CpG dinucleotides and CpNpG trinucleotides. We suggest that NF1 mutations are acquired and retained by cells through an intricate balancing of repair and replication mechanisms. Such mutations may provide a proliferative advantage for that cell and its progeny.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • CpG Islands*
  • Genes, Neurofibromatosis 1*
  • Mutation*
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Trinucleotide Repeats*