We previously discovered that a polymorphic, deoxythymidine-homopolymer (poly-T, rs10524523) in intron 6 of the TOMM40 gene is associated with age-of-onset of Alzheimer's disease and with cognitive performance in elderly. Three allele groups were defined for rs10524523, hereafter '523', based on the number of 'T'-residues: 'Short' (S, T = 30). Homopolymers, particularly long homopolymers like '523', are difficult to genotype because 'slippage' occurs during PCR-amplification. We initially genotyped this locus by PCR-amplification followed by Sanger-sequencing. However, we recognized the need to develop a higher-throughput genotyping method that is also accurate and reliable. Here we describe a new '523' genotyping assay that is simple and inexpensive to perform in a standard molecular genetics laboratory. The assay is based on the detection of differences in PCR-fragment length using capillary electrophoresis. We discuss technical problems, solutions, and the steps taken for validation. We employed the novel assay to investigate the '523' allele frequencies in different ethnicities. Whites and Hispanics have similar frequencies of S/L/VL alleles (0.45/0.11/0.44 and 0.43/0.09/0.48, respectively). In African-Americans, the frequency of the L-allele (0.10) is similar to Whites and Hispanics; however, the S-allele is more prevalent (0.65) and the VL-allele is concomitantly less frequent (0.25). The allele frequencies determined using the new methodology are compared to previous reports for Ghanaian, Japanese, Korean and Han Chinese cohorts. Finally, we studied the linkage pattern between TOMM40-'523' and APOE alleles. In Whites and Hispanics, consistent with previous reports, the L is primarily linked to epsilon 4, while the majority of the VL and S are linked to epsilon 3. Interestingly, in African-Americans, Ghanaians and Japanese, there is an increased frequency of the '523'S-APOE epsilon 4 haplotype. These data may be used as references for '523' allele and '523'-APOE haplotype frequencies in diverse populations for the design of research studies and clinical trials.
Characterization of the poly-t variant in the tomm40 gene in diverse populations
Linnertz, C., Saunders, A. M., Lutz, M. W., Crenshaw, D. M., Grossman, I., Burns, D. K., Whitfield, K. E., Hauser, M. A., McCarthy, J. J., Ulmer, M., Allingham, R., Welsh-Bohmer, K. A., Roses, A. D., & Chiba-Falek, O. (2012). Characterization of the poly-t variant in the tomm40 gene in diverse populations. PLoS One, 7(2), . https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030994