Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The metabolic error involved in idiopathic hemochromatosis, as well as the underlying genetic defect remain unknown. It has, however, been recently shown that this genetic lesion occurs at a locus linked to the major histocompatibility complex, probably close to the HLA-A locus, and that the disease is recessively transmitted. Therefore, in a family where one subject has idiopathic hemochromatosis his HLA-identical siblings should also be affected. We present here the restriction polymorphism with two MHC class I probes and one DR β probe in an exceptional family with three HLA-identical siblings: one (the proband) has a major form of idiopathic hemochromatosis, while the other two are free of any clinical or biochemical signs of the disease. The restriction patterns observed after DNA digestion by enzymes EcoRI, EcoRV, BglII, BamHI, PvuII, TaqI, HincII, and HindIII led to the conclusion that one of the proband's chromosome 6 had undergone two alterations: one, a deletion in the DR region, was revealed by missing fragments all correlated with DR5; the other was an unbalanced cross-over or a genetic conversion in the MHC class I region. This latter alteration was revealed by modifications in the patterns of high molecular weight HindIII bands which hybridize with probe pHLA2 and also by the absence of a HindIII fragment of 7.4 kb hybridized by another class I probe. This latter alteration most likely involved the hemochromatosis gene and could be the first step toward a molecular approach to this gene.
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