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Genetic deficiency of human mast cell a-tryptase

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Human alpha- and beta-tryptases are proteases secreted by mast cells. Beta (but not alpha) tryptases are implicated in asthma. Genes encoding both types of tryptases cluster on chromosome 16p13.3. OBJECTIVE: This study examines the hypothesis, generated from mapping data, that alpha-alleles compete with some beta-alleles at one locus and that an adjacent locus contains beta-alleles exclusively. This hypothesis predicts that beta-alleles outnumber alpha and that some genomes lack alpha genes altogether. METHODS: To test this hypothesis, we developed PCR-based techniques to distinguish alpha from beta genes. We then genotyped genomic DNA from individuals and tryptase-expressing cell lines. RESULTS: In support of our hypothesis, we find that alpha-tryptase deficiency affects 80/274 (29%) of individuals surveyed. The genotype of the alpha-deficient individuals is betabetabetabeta, due to inheritance of four beta genes. The percentage of the population with the mixed genotypes alphaalphabetabeta and alphabetabetabeta is 21% and 50%, respectively. Accounting for all alpha- and beta-alleles at the tandem loci on 16p13.3, overall alpha-allele frequency is only 0.23, with beta-alleles considerably outnumbering alpha as hypothesized. In samples of defined ethnicity, alpha deficiency affects 45% of Caucasians, but a much lower percentage of other backgrounds, including African-Americans and Asians. Examination of cell lines reveals that HMC-1 and U-937 lack alpha-genes; thus, lack of alpha transcripts in these cells is due to absence of alpha-genes rather than beta-selective transcription. By contrast, alpha-transcribing Mono Mac 6 and KU812 cells contain alpha- and beta-genes. CONCLUSIONS: Genetic alpha-tryptase deficiency is common and varies strikingly between ethnic groups. Because beta-tryptases are implicated in allergic disorders, inherited differences in alpha/beta-genotype may affect disease susceptibility, severity and response to tryptase inhibitor therapy.

Authors: Soto D, Malmsten C, Blount JL, Muilenburg DJ, Caughey GH
Journal: Clin Exp Allergy 32: 1000-1006
Year: 2002
PubMed: Find in PubMed