The low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor gene was analyzed in 67 unrelated healthy Japanese and 38 members of six consecutive families with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) by Southern blot hybridization with TaqI, an LDL receptor cDNA fragment containing exons 1 to 8 being used as a probe. A new TaqI RFLP at the LDL receptor locus was detected with allele frequencies of 0.67 and 0.33. The data obtained with smaller cDNA subfragment probes revealed that the TaqI RFLP site is located within 1.1 kb of the 5′ side of the EcoRI site of exon 5. The TaqI RFLP was in linkage disequilibrium with the PstI RFLP but showed no significant linkage disequilibrium with the RFLPs for AvaII, ApaLI/I15, PvuII, NcoI, and ApaLI/3′. Among the seven RFLPs at the LDL receptor locus, the TaqI RFLP was the only useful genetic marker in one of the six families with FH. Furthermore, the association of an additional TaqI 1.5-kb band with a mutant LDL receptor gene was observed in another family with FH in which the proband was homozygous for all of the seven RFLPs. The data obtained with various restriction enzymes and smaller cDNA subfragments probes suggested that a minor change in nucleotide sequences in the region including exons 5 to 8 is present in the mutant gene. These data suggest that the TaqI RFLP is a useful genetic marker at the LDL receptor locus and that TaqI serves for the analysis of some mutant LDL receptor genes, when used with small LDL receptor cDNA probes.
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