Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) is a congenital erythroid aplasia characterized as a normochromic macrocytic anemia with a selective deficiency in red blood cell precursors in otherwise normocellular bone marrow. In 40% of DBA patients, various physical anomalies are also present. Currently two genes are associated with the DBA phenotype--the ribosomal protein (RP) S19 mutated in 25% of DBA patients and RPS24 mutated in approximately 1.4% of DBA patients. Here we report the identification of a mutation in yet another ribosomal protein, RPS17. The mutation affects the translation initiation start codon, changing T to G (c.2T>G), thus eliminating the natural start of RPS17 protein biosynthesis. RNA analysis revealed that the mutated allele was expressed, and the next downstream start codon located at position +158 should give rise to a short peptide of only four amino acids (Met-Ser-Arg-Ile). The mutation arose de novo, since all healthy family members carry the wild-type alleles. The identification of a mutation in the third RP of the small ribosomal subunit in DBA patients further supports the theory that impaired translation may be the main cause of DBA pathogenesis.
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