A homoallelic Gly317-->Asp mutation in ALPL causes the perinatal (lethal) form of hypophosphatasia in Canadian mennonites.
BACKGROUND The Hutterites are a religious isolate living in colonies across the North American prairies. This population originated from approximately 90 founders, resulting in a number of genetic diseases that are overrepresented, underrepresented, or unique. The founder effect in this population increases the likelihood that Hutterite couples carry the same recessive mutations. We have designed a diagnostic chip on a fee-for-service basis with Asper Biotech to provide Hutterites with the option of comprehensive carrier screening. METHODS A total of 32 disease-causing mutations in 30 genes were selected and primers were designed for array primer extension-based testing. Selected mutations were limited to those leading to autosomal recessive disorders, maintaining its primary use as a test for determining carrier status. RESULTS The DNA chip was developed and validated using 59 DNA controls for all but one of the mutations, for which a synthetic control was used. All mutations were readily detected except for a duplication causing restrictive dermopathy where heterozygotes and homozygotes could only be distinguished by sequencing. Blinded testing of 12 additional samples from healthy Hutterites was performed by Asper Biotech using chip testing. All known mutations from previous molecular testing were detected on the chip. As well, additional mutations identified by the chip in these 12 samples were subsequently verified by a second method. CONCLUSIONS Our analysis indicates that the chip is a sensitive and specific means of carrier testing in the Hutterite population and can serve as a model for other founder populations.