• limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2A;
  • calpain 3 (CAPN3) gene;
  • 550delA mutation; epidemiology;
  • screening


Mutations in the calpain 3 (CAPN3) gene are responsible for limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) type 2A. We report five causal mutations: 550delA, ΔFWSAL, R541W, Y357X and R49H found on 45/50 of alleles studied in 25 unrelated families from Croatia. The 550delA mutation was present on 76% of CAPN3 chromosomes that led us to screen general population for this mutation; 532 random blood samples from three different regions were analyzed using allele-specific PCR. Four healthy 550delA heterozygous were found suggesting a frequency of 1 in 133. All four carriers detected originated from an island and mountain region close to the Adriatic Sea. These findings combined with haplotype analysis confirm that our general population is rather “closed” with a probable founder effect in some parts of the country. In addition, the high frequency of 550delA mutation found in some neighboring European countries together with the easy detection of the 550delA mutation should streamline genetic analysis, especially bearing in mind the geographic and ethnic origin of the patients. Our results, combined with published haplotype studies suggest that 550delA originated in the Eastern Mediterranean from which it has probably spread widely across Europe. Extending this study to other areas would help to address this epidemiological question. Our data are relevant to accurate genetic counseling and patient testing since we lack sensitive and specific biopsy screening methods for detecting patients with calpainopathy. Thus, detection of patients relies on the direct detection of gene mutation and our findings may be helpful in establishing diagnostic screening strategy. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.