Reliable low-density DNA array based on allele-specific probes for detection of 118 mutations causing familial hypercholesterolemia.
BACKGROUND Patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) have a high risk of premature cardiovascular disease (PCVD). Mutations in the LDL receptor (LDLR) gene and the R3500Q mutation in the apolipoprotein B (APOB) gene are known to cause FH, but lack of high-throughput methods makes routine genetic diagnosis difficult. The objective of this work was to develop a DNA array for large-scale identification of mutant LDLR alleles. METHODS We developed a low-density oligonucleotide microarray to identify 118 DNA sequence variations (117 for the LDLR gene and 1 for the APOB gene). We verified specificity and sensitivity by analyzing 1180 previously sequenced DNA samples, and conducted a blind study screening 407 Spanish patients with a clinical diagnosis of FH. RESULTS The DNA array confirmed the previous genotyping results in almost all cases. In the blind study, the microarray detected at least 1 mutation in 51% of the patients for whom clinical diagnosis was classified as certain according to Dutch FH-MEDPED criteria; it also identified mutations in 37% of those with a diagnosis of probable/possible FH, thus giving a definite diagnosis. Patients harboring null mutations had shorter PCVD-free survival times and higher relative risk of PCVD than patients with a missense mutation. CONCLUSIONS The proposed DNA array allows large-scale population screening and provides molecular information regarding mutation type and its correlation with clinical severity of FH, which can be used to develop therapeutic strategies.