Department of Biochemical Genetics, The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Nicosia, Cyprus.
Classic galactosaemia is an inherited metabolic disorder of galactose metabolism caused by deficiency of the enzyme galactose-1-phosphate uridyltransferase (GALT) resulting from mutations in the GALT gene. The objectives of the present study were the determination of the carrier frequency of classic galactosaemia in the Greek Cypriot population and the molecular characterization of the disease alleles. We performed an epidemiological study involving 528 Greek Cypriots originating from all parts of Cyprus. Carriers were identified by measuring GALT activity in red blood cells and were subsequently subjected to mutation analysis. A total of five mutations were identified in patients and carriers of classic galactosaemia: a large deletion of 8.5 kb previously reported by us (55% of alleles), the known mutations p.Lys285Asn (30%), p.Pro185Ser (5%), and c.820+13A>G (5%), and a novel mutation c.378-12G>A (5%). Interestingly, the most common mutation in European populations, p.Gln188Arg, was not identified in this Cypriot cohort. The carrier frequency for classic galactosaemia among Greek Cypriots was estimated to be 1:88, predicting a homozygote incidence of 1:31,000 births. The Duarte 1 and Duarte 2 variants were found to be present at a frequency of 5.5% and 2.5%, respectively.