Deletion analyses of SMN1 and NAIP genes in Malaysian spinal muscular atrophy patients

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The survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene has been recognized to be responsible for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) because it is homozygously deleted in more than 90% of SMA patients, irrespective of their clinical severity, whereas the neuronal apoptosis inhibitory protein (NAIP) gene is now considered to be a modifying factor of the severity of SMA. In Malaysia, it remains to be elucidated whether deletion of the SMN1 gene is also a main cause of SMA or whether deletion of the NAIP gene is found in the SMA patients.


To clarify the pathogenesis of SMA in Malaysia, a deletion analysis of the SMN1 and NAIP genes was performed in 24 Malaysian SMA patients. Deletion analysis of exons 7 and 8 of the SMN1 gene was performed according to the method described by van der Steege et al., while deletion analysis of exon 5 of the NAIP gene was performed according to a method described by Roy et al.


Homozygous deletion of SMN1 exon 7 and exon 8 were identified in 19 out of 24 patients (79%). As to the NAIP gene, deletion of exon 5 was detected in six out of 24 patients (25%). NAIP gene deletion was correlated with severity of the disease.


Deletion of the SMN1 exon 7 is a major cause of SMA in Malaysia, and NAIP gene deletions are not rare in type I SMA in Malaysia. The lower percentage of the SMN1 gene deletion may be due to the possibility that the present study included some patients without SMN1 gene abnormality and/or some patients with non-deletion type mutations in the SMN1 gene.

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