Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract We have identified a minor hemoglobin component (∼5%) in the blood of a healthy Costa Rican female, but not in her mother and two brothers (father not studied), that has an His→Arg replacement at position β77 (Hb Costa Rica). No other amino acid replacements were observed and no β- or γ-chain-like peptides were present. Hb Costa Rica has a normal stability. Sequence analyses of numerous polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified segments of DNA that contain exon 2 of the β gene failed to identify a CAC→CGC (His→Arg) mutation. The same was the case when cDNA was sequenced, indicating that a β-Costa Rica-mRNA could not be detected with this procedure. Gene mapping of genomic DNA with BglII, BamHI, and HindIII gave normal fragments only and with the same intensity as observed for the fragments of a normal control. The quantities of the β chain variants Hb J-Iran and Hb Fukuyama with related mutations at β77 vary between 30% and 45% in heterozygotes, whereas that of Hb F-Kennestone with the same His→Arg mutation but in the Gγ-globin gene, is a high 40%–45% (as percentage of total Gγ) in a heterozygous newborn. These different observations exclude a heterozygosity of the A→G mutation at codon β77, as well as a deletion comparable to that of Hbs Lepore or Kenya, or a β-globin gene duplication, and point to a nontraditional inheritance of Hb Costa Rica. Allele-specific amplification of cDNA with appropriate primers identified the presence of a low level of mutated mRNA in the reticulocytes of the patient, which was confirmed by dotblot analysis of the same material with 32P-labeled probes. Comparable amplification products were not observed in genomic DNA. The A→G mutation apparently occurred in a somatic cell at a relatively early stage in the development of the hematopoietic cell system, and Hb Costa Rica accumulated through rapid cell divisions in patchy areas in the bone marrow (somatic mosaicism). An unequal distribution of Hb Costa Rica over the red cells supports this possibility.
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