Molecular characterization of beta-thalassemia in the Dohuk region of Iraq.

Research paper by Nasir A S NA Al-Allawi, Jalaldet M S JM Jubrael, Michael M Hughson

Indexed on: 22 Sep '06Published on: 22 Sep '06Published in: Hemoglobin


beta-Thalassemia (thal) is an important health problem in the Dohuk region of northern Iraq because of its high carrier rate and the frequency of consanguineous marriages. Thus, the need to establish an effective preventative program is paramount. As part of this effort, we initiated this study to determine the molecular basis of this disorder in the region. For the latter purpose, either parent of 104 registered beta-thal major/intermedia patients had their full blood counts, hemoglobin (Hb) electrophoresis, Hb A2 and Hb F quantitation performed. Their DNA was extracted, amplified and reverse hybridized to specific oligonucleotide probes to detect 20 beta-thal mutations. The testing detected 12 beta-thalassemic mutations. The eight most frequent were: IVS-II-1 (G-->A), codon 44 (-C), codon 5 (-CT), IVS-I-1 (G-->A), codon 39 (C-->T), IVS-I-6 (T-->C), codons 8/9 (+G) and IVS-I-5 (G-->C). These mutations accounted for 81.7% of the thalassemic defects in the studied individuals. The less frequent mutations were: codon 8 (-AA), IVS-I-110 (G-->A), codon 30 (G-->C) and codon 22 (-7 bp), and the beta-thalassemic defects remained uncharacterized in 11.5% of cases. This is the first study of beta-thal mutations from Iraq, and shows a frequency of thalassemic defects different from those reported in surrounding countries. It provides a foundation for prenatal genetic testing that will be part of a thalassemia prevention program in the Dohuk region.