The molecular basis for the thalassaemias in Sri Lanka.
Fisher CA., Premawardhena A., de Silva S., Perera G., Rajapaksa S., Olivieri NA., Old JM., Weatherall DJ., Sri Lanka Thalassaemia Study Group None.
The beta-globin gene mutations and the alpha-globin genes of 620 patients with the phenotype of severe to moderate thalassaemia from seven centres in Sri Lanka were analysed. Twenty-four beta-globin gene mutations were identified, three accounting for 84.5% of the 1240 alleles studied: IVSI-5 (G-->C) 56.2%; IVSI-1 (G-->A) 15.2%; and haemoglobin E (codon (CD)26 GAG-->GAA) 13.1%. Three new mutations were found; a 13-bp deletion removing the last nucleotide in CD6 to CD10 inclusively, IVSI-129 (A-->C) in the consensus splice site, and a frame shift, CD55 (-A). The allele frequency of alpha+ thalassaemia was 6.5% and 1.1% for -alpha3.7 and -alpha4.2 deletions respectively. Non-deletion alpha-thalassaemia was not observed. Triplicate or quadruplicate alpha-globin genes were unusually common. In 1.5% of cases it was impossible to identify beta-thalassaemia alleles, but in Kurunegala detailed family studies led to an explanation for the severe thalassaemia phenotype in every case, including a previously unreported instance of homozygosity for a quadruplicated alpha-globin gene together with beta-thalassaemia trait. These findings have implications for the control of thalassaemia in high-frequency populations with complex ethnic histories.