Congenital deficiency of factor XI is a rare condition associated with a mild to moderate bleeding diathesis that is most commonly found in persons of Jewish ancestry. The disorder has been reported sporadically in a number of other ethnic groups, but rarely in the black population. We report on the genetic analysis of the factor XI genes of two African American patients: a 9-year-old boy (the propositus) with mild factor XI deficiency and his mother. Both individuals have lifelong histories of excessive bleeding. Dideoxyfingerprinting, a technique combining components of single-strand conformational polymorphism analysis and dideoxy-chain termination sequencing, was used in the analysis. Both patients were found to be heterozygous for a mutation changing serine 248 to asparagine [corrected], whereas the propositus was heterozygous for an additional mutation on the paternal allele changing glutamine 226 to arginine. Both mutations reside in the third apple domain of the factor XI heavy chain, an area that has been shown to contain binding sites for factor IX, platelets, and glycosaminoglycans. Previously reported mutations in the factor XI gene seem to cause deficiency primarily by reducing protein expression. Because both alleles in the propositus contain amino acid substitutions, the significant amount of circulating factor XI in his plasma must be comprised entirely of abnormal molecules. Factor XI circulates as a homodimer, and the presence of mutations in both alleles of the factor XI gene suggests that his bleeding disorder is caused in part by the effect of the two abnormal gene products forming dimers in different combinations. Three neutral (not associated with amino acid changes) DNA polymorphisms were also identified in the two subjects: a C to T change at nucleotide 472 in exon 5, A to G at nucleotide 844 in exon 8, and T to C at nucleotide 1234 in exon 11. Analysis of a random sample of normal volunteers showed that these polymorphisms are relatively common, with allele frequencies of 7.4%, 19%, and 18%, respectively. This suggests that there is considerable genetic heterogeneity in the factor XI gene.
Copyright 1998 by The American Society of Hematology