Beta-thalassaemia major is one of the commonest genetic disorders in South East Asia. The strategy for the community control of beta-thalassaemia major requires the characterisation of the spectrum of beta-globin gene mutations in any multi-ethnic population. There is only a single report of mutation analyses of the beta-globin gene in an isolated Kadazandusun community in Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia, which showed the presence of a common 45 kb deletion.
Beta-thalassaemia major is an autosomal recessive disorder that results in severe microcytic, hypochromic, haemolytic anaemia among affected patients. Beta-thalassaemia has emerged as one of the most common public health problems in Malaysia, particularly among Malaysian Chinese and Malays. This study aimed to observe the spectrum of mutations found in Kelantan Malay beta-thalassaemia major patients who attended the Paediatrics Daycare Unit, Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan, Malaysia, the data of which was being used in establishing the prenatal diagnosis in this Human Genome Centre.
beta-thalassaemia major, an autosomal recessive hemoglobinopathy, is one of the most common single gene disorders in multi-racial Malaysia. The control of beta-thalassaemia major requires a multi-disciplinary approach that includes population screening, genetic counselling, prenatal diagnosis and the option of termination of affected pregnancies. To achieve this objective, the molecular characterisation of the spectrum of beta-globin gene mutations in each of the affected ethnic groups is required. We studied 88 consecutive unrelated individuals and their respective families with beta-thalassaemia (74 beta-thalassaemia major, 12 HbE-beta-thalassaemia, 2 with HbE homozygotes) and four individuals with beta-thalassaemia trait that contributed a total 180 alleles for study. Using a 2-step molecular diagnostic strategy consisting of amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS) to identify the 8 most common mutations followed by other DNA-based diagnostic techniques, a total of 177 (98.3 per cent) of the 180 beta-thalassaemia alleles were characterised. One out of 91 (1 per cent) of the Chinese alleles, one out of 46 (2.2 per cent) Malay alleles and one out of two Indian alleles remained unknown. A 100 per cent success rate was achieved in studying the Kadazandusun community in this study. A strategy to identify beta-globin gene mutations in Malaysians with beta-thalassaemia is proposed based on this outcome.
The spectrum of beta-thalassemia mutations in Malays in Singapore and Kelantan (Northeast Malaysia) was studied. Allele specific priming was used to determine the mutations in beta-carriers at -28, Codon 17, IVSI #1, IVSI #5, Codon 41-42 and IVSII #654 along the beta-globin gene. The most common structural hemoglobin variant in Southeast Asia, Hb E, was detected by DNA amplification with restriction enzyme (Mnl1) analysis. Direct genomic sequencing was carried out to detect the beta-mutations uncharacterized by allele-specific priming. The most prevalent beta-mutations in Singaporean Malays were IVSI #5 (45.83%) followed by Hb E (20.83%), codon 15 (12.5%) and IVSI #1 and IVSII #654 at 4.17% each. In contrast, the distribution of the beta-mutations in Kelantan Malays differed, with Hb E as the most common mutation (39.29%) followed by IVSI #5 (17.86%), codon 41-42 (14.29%), codon 19 (10.71%) and codon 17 (3.57%). The beta-mutations in Kelantan Malays follow closely the distribution of beta-mutations in Thais and Malays of Southern Thailand and Malays of West Malaysia. The AAC-->AGC base substitution in codon 19 has been detected only in these populations. The spectrum of beta-mutations in the Singaporean Malays is more similar to those reported in Indonesia with the beta-mutation at codon 15 (TGG-->TAG) present in both populations. The characterization of beta-mutations in Singaporean and Kelantan Malays will facilitate the establishment of effective prenatal diagnosis programs for beta-thalassemia major in this ethnic group.
The distribution of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) at the BamH1 site of the beta-globin gene was investigated in the Chinese, Indian, and Malay race in Singapore. The sample comprised of 183 normal individuals and 35 beta-thalassemia carriers in which 13 were couples with at least one beta-major child. The results from this study indicate that BamH1 polymorphism will be informative in 22% of pregnancies at risk for beta-thalassemia major in Chinese, 19% in Malays and 7% in Indians. In prenatal diagnosis using BamH1 polymorphism for one beta-major affected family, the fetus was diagnosed to be normal or beta-carrier. The validity of BamH1 polymorphism in the exclusion of beta-thalassemia major was subsequently confirmed at birth by globin chain biosynthesis.
In Malaysia, about 4.5% of the Malay and Chinese populations are heterozygous carriers of beta-thalassaemia. The initial identification of rare beta-globin gene mutations by genomic sequencing will allow the development of simpler and cost-effective PCR-based techniques to complement the existing amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS) and gap-PCR used for the identification of beta-thalassaemia mutations.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Individuals with double heterozygosity for alpha- and beta-thalassaemia and heterozygous beta-thalassaemia show a similar haematological picture. Co-inheritance of alpha- and beta-thalassaemia in both partners may result in pregnancies with either Hb Bart's hydrops foetalis or beta-thalassaemia major, or pregnancies with both disorders.
METHODS: The co-inheritance of alpha-thalassaemia in 322 beta-thalassaemia carriers in Malaysia was studied.
RESULTS: The frequency of alpha-thalassaemia in the beta-thalassaemia carriers was 12.7% (41/322), with a carrier frequency of 7.8% for the SEA deletion, 3.7% for the -alpha(3.7) deletion, 0.9% for Hb Constant Spring and 0.3% for the -alpha(4.2) deletion.
CONCLUSION: Double heterozygosity for alpha- and beta-thalassaemia was confirmed in 5 out of the 41 couples and the risk of the fatal condition Hb Bart's hydrops foetalis was confirmed in two of these couples. Detection of the Southeast Asian (SEA) deletion in the Malaysian Malays in this study confirms that Hb Bart's hydrops foetalis can occur in this ethnic group. Results of this study have provided new information on the frequency and different types of alpha-thalassaemia (--(SEA), -alpha(3.7) and -alpha(4.2) deletions, Hb Constant Spring) in Malaysian beta-thalassaemia carriers.
DNA technology provides a new avenue to perform neonatal screening tests for single-gene diseases in populations of high frequency. Thalassemia is one of the high-frequency single-gene disorders affecting Singapore and many countries in the malaria belt. The authors explored the feasibility of using PCR-based diagnostic screening on 1,116 unselected sequential cord blood samples for neonatal screening. The cord blood samples were screened for the most common reported alpha- and beta-thalassemia mutations in each ethnic group (Chinese, Malays, and Indians) in a multiracial population. The carrier frequency for alpha-thalassemia mutations was about 6.4% in the Chinese (alpha deletions = 3.9%, alpha deletions = 2.5%), 4.8% in Malays, and 5.2% in Indians. Only alpha deletions were observed in the Chinese. The carrier frequency for beta-thalassemia mutations was 2.7% in the Chinese, 6.3% in Malays, and 0.7% in Indians. Extrapolating to the population distribution of Singapore, the authors found a higher overall expected carrier frequency for alpha- and beta-thalassemia mutations of 9% compared with a previous population study of 6% by phenotype. The highly accurate results make this molecular epidemiologic screening an ideal method to screen for and prevent severe thalassemia in high-risk populations.
Beta-thalassemia is a life-threatening inherited blood disorder. Rapid characterization of β-globin gene mutations is necessary because of the high frequency of Malaysian β-thalassemia carriers. A combination real-time polymerase chain reaction genotyping assay using TaqMan probes was developed to confirm β-globin gene mutations. In this study, primers and probes were designed to specifically identify 8 common β-thalassemia mutations in the Malaysian Malay and Chinese ethnic groups using the Primer Express software. "Blind tests" using DNA samples from healthy individuals and β-thalassemia patients with different genotypes were performed to determine the specificity and sensitivity of this newly designed assay. Our results showed 100% sensitivity and specificity for this novel assay. In conclusion, the TaqMan genotyping assay is a straightforward assay that allows detection of β-globin gene mutations in less than 40 min. The simplicity and reproducibility of the TaqMan genotyping assay permit its use in laboratories as a rapid and cost-effective diagnostic tool for confirmation of common β-thalassemia mutations in Malaysia.
The beta-thalassaemia mutations in 20 Malaysian children with beta-thalassaemia major were characterised by using a multi-modal approach, consisting of a slot-blot hybridisation with selected allele-specific oligonucleotides (ASO), followed by reverse dot-blot assay (RDB), amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS) and genomic sequencing. This strategy yielded a 94.4% mutation detection rate. The 6 most common mutations were codons 41/42 (-TTCT), IVS II nt 654(C --> T), IVS I nt 5(G --> C), IVS I nt 1(G -->T), codon 35 (-C) and codon 19 (A --> G), which accounted for 83.3% of all mutations detected. A strategy of initial screening with the above 6 selected ASOs for slot-blot hybridisation followed by RDB assay for the less common Asian mutations would give a mutation identification of 91.7%. Another feasible approach would be to analyse alleles from a particular racial group, by a judicious selection of 4 ASOs common to that particular subpopulation and then supplement this with RDB assay. This could yield a 100% coverage for the Chinese subpopulation in Malaysia. With these strategies, a practical approach has been identified to overcome the pitfalls posed by the molecular heterogeneity of beta-thalassaemia to enable prenatal diagnosis and carrier screening to be carried out. Regional collaborative studies are to be encouraged as an indispensable tool in providing better health care services to our patients.
We have systematically analyzed beta-thalassemia genes using polymerase chain reaction-related techniques, dot-blot hybridization with oligonucleotide probes, allele specific-polymerase chain reaction, and sequencing of amplified DNA fragments from 41 unrelated patients, including 37 beta-thalassemia homozygotes, three with beta-thalassemia/Hb E, and one with beta-thalassemia/Hb S. Four different beta-thalassemia mutations were detected in 78 alleles. These are the IVS-I-5 (G-->C), codon 30 (AGG-->ACG) [also indicated as IVS-I (-1)], IVS-I-1 (G-->A), and codons 41/42 (-TTCT) mutations. The distribution of the beta-thalassemia mutations in the Maldives is 58 alleles (74.3%) with the IVS-I-5 (G-->C) mutation, 12 (15.4%) with the codon 30 (AGG-->ACG) mutation, seven (9%) with the IVS-I-1 (G-->A) mutation, and one with the codons 41/42 (-TTCT) mutation. The first three mutations account for 98.7% of the total number of beta-thalassemia chromosomes studied. These mutations are clustered in the region spanning 6 bp around the junction of exon 1 and the first intervening sequence of the beta-globin gene. These observations have significant implications for setting up a thalassemia prevention and control program in the Maldives. Analysis of haplotypes and frameworks of chromosomes bearing each beta-thalassemia mutation suggested that the origin and spread of these mutations were reflected by the historical record.