Albinism is a group of inherited conditions in which affected individuals have less than normal pigment in the eyes, skin, and hair compared to others of the same race and ethnic background. The prevalence of all types of albinism in the United States is estimated at 1 in 20,000, based on poor epidemiological data. X-linked Nettleship-Falls ocular albinism (XLOA, OA1) affects ∼ 1/150,000 males in the population. XLOA effects reduce visual acuity and nystagmus, result in a mild skin and hair phenotype, and occur mostly in XY males. Female carriers of XLOA have normal visual acuity, but often show iris punctate transillumination and a classic pattern of mosaic retinal pigmentation, coarse and grainy in the macula and becoming increasingly reticular into the periphery of the retinal pigment epithelium. Studies of OA1 have shown linkage of a single gene to markers at Xp22.3-p22.2. About 48% of the reported mutations in the OA1 gene are intragenic deletions and about 43% are point mutations. We present a hierarchical strategy for mutation screening for diagnostic testing for OA1 that comprises two tiers: first, multiplex PCR to detect intragenic deletions in the OA1 gene with denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (dHPLC, and, second, heteroduplex analysis with dHPLC to scan for mutations, with subsequent sequencing of variants to confirm putative mutations in the OA1 gene. Prenatal diagnosis can be provided for families when the mutation has been firmly identified. We have validated this procedure with positive controls that were identified in patients by Southern blot, single-stranded conformation polymorphism (SSCP), and sequencing. In this hierarchical strategy, these procedures have an analytical sensitivity of gt;99%.
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