A second genetic polymorphism in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) associated with decreased enzyme activity.
A common mutation in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), C677T, results in a thermolabile variant with reduced activity. Homozygous mutant individuals (approximately 10% of North Americans) are predisposed to mild hyperhomocysteinemia, when their folate status is low. This genetic-nutrient interactive effect is believed to increase the risk for neural tube defects and vascular disease. In this communication, we characterize a second common variant in MTHFR (A1298C), an E to A substitution. Homozygosity was observed in approximately 10% of Canadian individuals. This polymorphism was associated with decreased enzyme activity; homozygotes had approximately 60% of control activity in lymphocytes. Heterozygotes for both the C677T and the A1298C mutation, approximately 15% of individuals, had 50-60% of control activity, a value that was lower than that seen in single heterozygotes for the C677T variant. No individuals were homozygous for both mutations. Additional studies of the A1298C mutation, in the absence and presence of the C677T mutation, are warranted, to adequately address the role of this new genetic variant in complex traits. A silent genetic variant, T1317C, was identified in the same exon. It was relatively infrequent (allele frequency 5%) in our study group, but was quite common in a small sample of African individuals (allele frequency 39%).