More than 100 different C1 inhibitor gene mutations have been described in hereditary angioedema (HAE) patients. Sixty-nine mutations have been reported in patients with the quantitative C1 inhibitor defect (type 1 HAE) in two recent large-scale studies. These changes were found distributed over all exons and exon/intron boundaries. The molecular defects can be divided as follows: Alu-repeat-mediated deletions or duplications (accounting for 21% of all cases), missense mutations (> 36%), frameshifts (14%), Stop codon mutations (10%), promoter variants (4%), splice site mutations (7-10%), deletions of a few amino acids (less than 3%). Several recent studies indicate that up to 25% of these changes are found in patients without a family history of angioedema and represent de novo mutations. Pathogenic amino acid substitutions were found distributed over the entire length of the coding sequence, except for the 100 amino-acid-long glycosylated amino-terminal extension, whose sequence tolerates extensive variation, as indicated by comparisons across species. Functional studies have been carried out only on a fraction of these amino acid substitutions and indicate that defects affecting intracellular transport are often at the basis of type 1 hereditary angioedema. An interesting promoter variant (a C to T transition at position -103) was found in an exceptional family with recessive transmission of the disease. Regulatory elements in the promoter region and in intron 1 were revealed by their sequence conservation in mouse and man and by functional studies. C1 inhibitor “minigene” constructs directing correct mRNA and protein synthesis in transgenic mice have provided valuable information on hormonal control and cell-type specificity of gene expression. [References: 23].
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