Background: Harlequin ichthyosis (HI), one of the most severe genetic skin disorders, is autosomal recessively inherited. Mutations in ABCA12, which encodes ATP-binding cassette transporter A12 (ABCA12), are known to be the cause of HI. It is very difficult to make precise genetic diagnosis when an exon deletion mutation overlaps the site of another causative point mutation. This combination of mutations may lead us to conclude incorrectly that the patient has the point mutation homozygously, a phenomenon called "apparent homozygosity". Objective: To demonstrate that the present HI patient has apparent homozygosity in ABCA12 mutations. Methods: We performed direct sequencing of gDNA in the entire coding region, including exon-intron boundaries, of ABCA12 in the HI patient and her parents. To further elucidate the mutations in the patient, parental mutation segregation study was done and SNP analysis was conducted on the region flanking ABCA12 in the patients and her parents. Quantitative PCR of gDNA in exon 11 of ABCA12 was also performed. Direct sequencing of cDNA from exon 9 to exon 13 and of gDNA between intron 9 and intron 11 of ABCA12 was done in the HI patient and her parents. Results: Direct sequencing of gDNA in the entire coding region, including exon-intron boundaries, of ABCA12 seemed to indicate that the patient had the novel homozygous nonsense mutation c.1216A>T (p.Lys406X) in exon 11. However, mutation segregation analysis, SNP analysis, qRTPCR of gDNA in exon 11 of ABCA12 and direct sequencing of cDNA from exon 9 to exon 12 of ABCA12 and of gDNA between intron 9 and intron 11 of ABCA12 in the HI patient and her parents demonstrated that the present patient was compound heterozygous for two ABCA12 mutations: c.1216A>T (p.Lys406X) in exon 11 and g.111346_113217del1872 (p.Leu355_Lys428del, Gln354fs7*) which was overlapping exon deletion mutations involving exons 10 and 11. Conclusion: When direct sequencing indicates that a patient from a non-consanguineous family has an apparently homozygous non-founder point mutation, the homozygosity may be "apparent homozygosity", and we should keep in mind the possibility of overlapping exon deletion mutation.
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