Screening methods for unknown DNA sequence variations are laborious, expensive, and relatively insensitive. To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of denaturing high pressure liquid chromatography (DHPLC) screening for unknown protein C gene (PROC) mutations, we studied 31 PROC-deficient patients. Eleven amplimers containing 4 kb of the PROC gene and spanning all exons, splice junctions, and the putative promoter and 3′-untranslated regions were amplified by PCR for each patient. Each amplimer (n = 341) was sequenced with a fluorescence-based method, and screened by DHPLC. Sequencing identified 10 unique mutations and three polymorphisms. Combining all mutations and polymorphisms, 227 amplimers were homozygous wild-type, and 63 and 51 were heterozygous and homozygous mutant, respectively. DHPLC screening correctly identified all amplimers (100% sensitivity and specificity). DHPLC is a rapid, automated, sensitive and specific screening method for unknown mutations within the PROC gene, and may be a useful screening method for unknown mutations within other genes.
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