The molecular basis of canavan (aspartoacylase deficiency) disease in European non-Jewish patients

A. Shaag, Y. Anikster, E. Christensen, J. Z. Glustein, A. Fois, H. Michelakakis, F. Nigro, E. Pronicka, A. Ribes, M. T. Zabot, O. N. Elpeleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Canavan disease is an infantile neurodegenerative disease that is due to aspartoacylase deficiency. The disease has been reported mainly in Ashkenazi Jews but also occurs in other ethnic groups. Determination of enzymatic activity for carrier detection and prenatal diagnosis is considered unreliable. In the present study, nine mutations were found in the aspartoacylase gene of 19 non-Jewish patients. These included four point mutations (A305E [39.5% of the mutated alleles], C218X 115.8%], F295S [2.6%], and G274R [5.3%]); four deletion mutations (827delGT [5.3%], 870del4 [2.6%], 566del7 [2.6%], and 527del6 [2.6%]); and one exon skip (527del108 [5.3%]). The A305E mutation is panEuropean and probably the most ancient mutation, identified in patients of Greek, Polish, Danish, French, Spanish, Italian, and British origin. In contrast, the G274R and 527del108 mutations were found only in patients of Turkish origin, and the C218X mutation was identified only in patients of Gypsy origin. Homozygosity for the A305E mutation was identified in patients with both the severe and the mild forms of Canavan disease. Mutations were identified in 31 of the 38 alleles, resulting in an overall detection rate of 81.6%. All nine mutations identified in non-Jewish patients reside in exons 4-6 of the aspartoacylase gene. The results would enable accurate genetic counseling in the families of 13 (68.4%) of 19 patients, in whom two mutations were identified in the aspartoacylase cDNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-580
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


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