Polymorphisms in the TPMT gene open reading frame (ORF) are associated with reduced TPMT activity. Variable number tandem repeats (VNTR*3 to VNTR*9) in the promoter region of the gene consisting of combinations of Type A, B and C repeat units, may modulate TPMT activity. Here we present the allele frequencies of genetic modifiers of TPMT activity in a British Asian population, as well as the concordance between intermediate TPMT activity and ORF and VNTR genotypes in a predominantly Caucasian population.
VNTR type and ORF mutations were determined in two selected TPMT activity ranges, intermediate activity (4–8 U, 108 patients), normal (12–15 U, 53 patients) and in 85 British Asians.
In British Asians, TPMT*3C was the prevalent mutant allele (four heterozygotes). One patient was heterozygous for TPMT*3A. Overall VNTR frequencies did not differ from Caucasians. Three new VNTR alleles were designated VNTR*6c, VNTR*6d, and VNTR*7c. Forty-one percent of patients with intermediate activity were heterozygous for a TPMT ORF mutation (3A, 2B, 1C). Marked linkage disequilibrium was noted between VNTR*6b - TPMT*3A (D′ = 1), VNTR*4b - TPMT*3C (D′ = 0.67) and VNTR*6a - TPMT*1 (D′ = 1) alleles. As a result, significant differences (P< 0.05) in the distribution of Type A, B or the total number of repeats summed for both alleles, were found between the ORF heterozygous intermediate activity group and the wild-type intermediate or normal activity groups. No significant difference was found between the two wild-type groups.
Our results suggest that TPMT gene VNTRs do not significantly modulate enzyme activity.