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Keywords:

  • Gaucher disease;
  • glucocerebrosidase;
  • lysosomal storage disease;
  • mutation;
  • polymorphism

Gaucher disease is caused by mutations in the gene for human glucocerebrosidase, a lysosomal enzyme involved in the intracellular hydrolysis of glucosylceramide. While over 150 different glucocerebrosidase mutations have been identified in patients with Gaucher disease, not all reported mutations have been fully characterized as being causative. One such mutation is the E326K mutation, which results from a G to A nucleotide substitution at genomic position 6195 and has been identified in patients with type 1, type 2 and type 3 Gaucher disease. However, in each instance, the E326K mutation was found on the same allele with another glucocerebrosidase mutation. Utilizing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening and restriction digestions of both patients with Gaucher disease and normal controls, we identified the E326K allele in both groups. Of the 310 alleles screened from patients with Gaucher disease, the E326K mutation was detected in four alleles (1.3%). In addition, screening for the E326K mutation among normal controls from a random population revealed that three alleles among 316 screened (0.9%) also carried the E326K mutation. In the normal controls with the E326K allele, the glucocerebrosidase gene was completely sequenced, but no additional mutations were found. Because the E326K mutation may be a polymorphism, we caution that a careful examination of any allele with this mutation should be performed to check for the presence of other glucocerebrosidase mutations.