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Abstract

Autosomal recessive juvenile parkinsonism (AR-JP) is a distinct clinical and genetic entity characterized by selective degeneration of nigral dopaminergic neurons and young-onset parkinsonism with remarkable response to levodopa. Recently, we mapped the gene locus for AR-JP to chromosome 6q25.2–q27 by linkage analysis and we identified a novel large gene, Parkin, consisting of 12 exons from this region; mutations of this gene were found to be the cause of AR-JP in two families. Now we report results of extensive molecular analysis on 34 affected individuals from 18 unrelated families with AR-JP. We found four different homozygous intragenic deletional mutations, involving exons 3 to 4, exon 3, exon 4, and exo 5 in 10 families (17 affected individuals). In addition to the exonic deletions, we identified a novel one-base deletion involving exon 5 in two families (2 affected individuals). All mutations so far found were deletional types in which large exonic deletion accounted for 50% (17 of 34) and the one-base deletion accounted for 6% (2/34); in the remaining, no homozygous mutations were found in the coding regions. Our findings indicate that loss of function of the Parkin protein results in the clinical phenotype of AR-JP and that subregions between introns 2 and 5 of the Parkin gene are mutational hot spots.