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A rapid nonradioactive method for the diagnosis of the most frequent Mediterranean β-thalassemic mutations is described based on a multiplex allele-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This method allows direct detection of normal or mutated alleles on genomic DNA. We have used this approach to detect the most frequent Mediterranean mutations" IVS-1 nt 100 (G → A) and 39 nonsense (C → T). For each mutation three allele-specific oligonucleotides were used: one common upstream primer and two downstream primers differing in their terminal 3' nucleotide (one specific for the normal allele and one for the mutant allele). For each sample two PCR reactions were performed in parallel using one case IVS-1 nt 110 and codon 39 noraml primers and in the second case using the corresponding mutated primers. In both cases the different PCR fragments were visualized. After optimization these primers directed only amplification of their complementary allele. A single blind study was performed on the DNA of 18 individuals who were homozygous or heterozygous for these mutations. In comparison with a parallel investigation, using oligonucleotide probes, all the results were unambiguous. This diagnosis method, which is rapid, easy, direct, and inexpensive, allows the screening of a population group, including heterozygotes, which is required from an epidemiological and anthropological point of view. It could be extended to the large series screening of haplotypes before targeted diagnosis of various genetic diseases.