Genomic DNA from two families exhibiting the K-variant phenotype of serum butyrylcholinesterase was amplified by PCR and sequenced to determine the molecular basis of this variant. The K-variant phenotype was found to be associated with a DNA transition from guanine to adenine at nucleotide 1615, which caused an amino acid change from alanine 539 to threonine (GCA→ACA; Ala539→Thr). There was a 30% reduction of serum butyrylcholinesterase activity associated with this mutation. Amplification and sequencing of DNA from a random sample of 47 unrelated people gave a frequency of .128 for the K-variant allele. Thus, 1 person in 63 should be homozygous for the K-variant, making the K-variant the most common butyrylcholinesterase variant. The K-variant mutation was also found to be present in 17 (89%) of 19 butyrylcholinesterase genes containing the point mutation which causes the atypical phenotype of butyrylcho-linesterase (GAT→GGT; Asp70→Gly). The presence of the K-variant in the same molecule as the atypical variant does not contribute to the qualitative change in the atypical enzyme, but it most likely accounts for the approximately one-third reduction in Vmax of butyrylcholinesterase activity in atypical serum. Two additional point mutations located in noncoding regions of the gene were also observed to be in linkage disequilibrium with the K-variant mutation. As many as four different point mutations have been identified within a single butyrylcholinesterase gene. Inhibition tests of the enzyme in plasma are usually used to distinguish the K-variant from the usual enzyme when the former is present with the heterozygous atypical variant (AK phenotype vs. UA phenotype). Inhibition tests were performed on plasma enzyme from the four possible genotypic combinations of the heterozygous atypical mutation with or without the K-variant mutation on either allele; we found that the AK phenotype was caused by three genotypes (A/K, AK/K, and U/A) and that the UA phenotype was caused by two genotypes (U/A and U/AK).
|Number of pages
|American Journal of Human Genetics
|Published - May 1992
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