C117T variant in the SMN1 gene found in the Japanese population

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The SMN genes are closely related to the development of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA); mutated SMN1 causes SMA and functional SMN2 modifies the severity of SMA. SMN1 and SMN2 are almost identical, being distinguished by only five base pair substitutions located at the 3′-end of the genes. Recently, a synonymous DNA variant, C117T, has been identified at the first codon of SMN2 exon 2a in the Caucasian population. It is still a question whether the variant is specific to the Caucasian population, and whether it is found only in SMN2. In order to address these questions, Japanese populations were screened for the presence of C117T in the SMN genes.


To detect the C117T variant in a Japanese population, polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism was performed in 33 SMA patients homozygous for SMN1 deletion and 106 control individuals. Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed to clarify whether the variant affects the splicing process of the SMN1 gene.


The C117T variant was found in one out of 33 Japanese SMA patients (3.0%) and in seven out of 106 Japanese control individuals (6.6%). There was no significant difference between frequencies in the present data and those reported from the Caucasian population. Notably, the C117T variant was also detected in the SMN1 gene; a control individual with homozygous SMN2 deletion was found to have the variant on one of the SMN1 genes. RT-PCR indicated that this variant of the SMN1 gene was normally transcribed and did not affect the splicing process in this individual.


The C117T variant was found not only in the Caucasian population, but also in the Japanese population. In addition, the variant was not specific to SMN2: it was also found in SMN1. RT-PCR indicated that the variant did not affect the splicing process.

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