Type 2 Gaucher disease with hydrops fetalis in an Ashkenazi Jewish family resulting from a novel recombinant allele and a rare splice junction mutation in the glucocerebrosidase locus

Mol Genet Metab. 1998 Apr;63(4):281-8. doi: 10.1006/mgme.1998.2675.


Gaucher disease, the deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (EC, is frequently encountered in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Carrier screening for Gaucher disease by enzyme analysis performed during a routine pregnancy indicated that both Ashkenazi parents were carriers. Screening for four common Gaucher mutations was subsequently performed on fetal and parental DNA. None of the common Ashkenazi mutations were identified. However, when exons 9-11 were amplified and digested with NciI to detect the L444P mutation, it appeared that the mother and the fetus had an unusual allele and that the expected paternal allele was not present. When the fetal amniocytes were found to have less than 2% of the normal glucocerebrosidase activity and a fetal sonogram revealed hydrops fetalis, the pregnancy was terminated. The diagnosis of severe type 2 Gaucher disease was confirmed at autopsy. Ultrastructural studies of epidermis from the fetus revealed the characteristic disruption of lamellar bilayers, diagnostic for type 2 Gaucher disease. In subsequent studies of the fetal DNA, long-template polymerase chain reaction amplification revealed one appropriately sized band (approximately 6.5 kb) and one smaller (approximately 5.2 kb) band. Sequencing of the approximately 5.2-kb fragment identified a novel fusion allele resulting from recombination between the glucocerebrosidase gene and its pseudogene beginning in intron 3. This fusion allele was inherited from the father. The result was confirmed by Southern blot analysis using the enzyme S8tII. Sequencing of the 6.5-kb fragment identified a previously described, although rare, T-to-G splice junction mutation in intron 10 of the maternal allele, which introduced an NciI site. The couple had a subsequent pregnancy which was also found to be affected. This case study identifies a novel recombinant allele and an unusual splice junction mutation, and demonstrates that even in the Ashkenazi population, screening for common mutations may not accurately identify the most severe forms of the disease.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Alternative Splicing / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Female
  • Gaucher Disease / genetics*
  • Glucosylceramidase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Hydrops Fetalis / genetics*
  • Jews / genetics
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Point Mutation*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • Glucosylceramidase