Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification analysis to screen for deletions and duplications of the LDLR gene in patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia


Gail Norbury, Regional Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3JH, UK.
Tel.: +44-020-7905-2659;
fax: +44-020-7813-8196;


The most common genetic defect in patients with autosomal dominant hypercholesterolaemia is a mutation of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene. An estimate of the frequency of major rearrangements has been limited by the availability of an effective analytical method and testing of large cohorts. We present data from a cohort of 611 patients referred with suspected heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) from five UK lipid clinics, who were initially screened for point mutations in LDLR and the common APOB and PCSK9 mutations. The 377 cases in whom no mutation was found were then screened for large rearrangements by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) analysis. A rearrangement was identified in 19 patients. This represents 7.5% of the total detected mutations of the cohort. Of these, the majority of mutations (12/19) were deletions of more than one exon, two were duplications of more than one exon and five were single exon deletions that need interpreting with care. Five rearrangements (26%) are previously unreported. We conclude that MLPA analysis is a simple and rapid method for detecting large rearrangements and should be included in diagnostic genetic testing for FH.