Nearby stop codons in exons of the neurofibromatosis type 1 gene are disparate splice effectors

Am J Hum Genet. 1998 Feb;62(2):269-77. doi: 10.1086/301715.


Stop mutations are known to disrupt gene function in different ways. They both give rise to truncated polypeptides because of the premature-termination codons (PTCs) and frequently affect the metabolism of the corresponding mRNAs. The analysis of neurofibromin transcripts from different neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) patients revealed the skipping of exons containing PTCs. The phenomenon of exon skipping induced by nonsense mutations has been described for other disease genes, including the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrance conductance regulator) gene and the fibrillin gene. We characterized several stop mutations localized within a few base pairs in exons 7 and 37 and noticed complete skipping of either exon in some cases. Because skipping of exon 7 and of exon 37 does not lead to a frameshift, PTCs are avoided in that way. Nuclear-scanning mechanisms for PTCs have been postulated to trigger the removal of the affected exons from the transcript. However, other stop mutations that we found in either NF1 exon did not lead to a skip, although they were localized within the same region. Calculations of minimum-free-energy structures of the respective regions suggest that both changes in the secondary structure of the mRNA and creation or disruption of exonic sequences relevant for the splicing process might in fact cause these different splice phenomena observed in the NF1 gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Base Sequence
  • Codon, Terminator*
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • Exons*
  • Humans
  • Introns
  • Melanocytes / cytology
  • Melanocytes / pathology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / blood
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / genetics*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / pathology
  • Neurofibromin 1
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Thermodynamics
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Codon, Terminator
  • Neurofibromin 1
  • Proteins
  • DNA