Polymorphisms of the thiopurine S-methyltransferase gene among the Libyan population
Background: Thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) is a cytosolic enzyme that catalyses the S-methylation of 6-mercaptopurine and azathioprine. Low activity phenotypes are correlated with polymorphism in the TPMT gene. Patients with low or undetectable TMPT activity could develop severe myelosuppression when they are treated with standard doses of thiopurine drugs. Since ethnic differences in the TPMT gene polymorphism have been demonstrated worldwide, assessing it in the Libyan population is worthwhile.
Methods: We investigated TPMT gene polymorphism in a total of 246 Libyan healthy adult blood donors from three different Libyan regions (Tripoli, Yefren, and Tawargha) and 50 children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). We used polymerase chain reaction restriction length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) and allele-specific PCR-based assays to analyse the TPMT gene for the variants *2 c.238 G>C, *3A (c.460 G>A and c.719 A>G), *3B (c.460 G>A), and *3C (c.719 A>G).
Results: Our results show that the TPMT variants associated with low enzymatic activity were detected in 3.25% (8 in 246) of adult Libyan individuals and the frequency of total mutant alleles was 1.63%. Heterozygous genotypes were TPMT*3A in three subjects (0.61%) and TPMT*3C in five subjects (1.02%). No TPMT*2 and TPMT*3B allelic variants and no homozygous or compound heterozygous mutant alleles were detected. The normal allele (wild-type) was found in 98.4% of the adult individuals studied. No mutant alleles were detected among the 50 children who had ALL.
Conclusions: We report on the presence of the TPMT*3C and *3A mutant alleles in the Libyan population. Therefore, monitoring the patients to be treated with doses of thiopurine drugs for TPMT variants is worthwhile to avoid the development of severe myelosuppression.
Keywords: TPMT gene; thiopurine drugs; polymorphisms; acute lymphoblastic leukaemia