Evidence that an abnormality in the glycoprotein Ib alpha gene is not the cause of abnormal platelet function in a family with classic Bernard-Soulier disease

CN Finch, JL Miller, VA Lyle, RI Handin


The underlying molecular basis for Bernard-Soulier Disease (BSD) is currently unknown. Platelets from patients with this autosomal recessive bleeding disorder have multiple abnormalities, including a markedly reduced von Willebrand factor-dependent adhesiveness due to a deficiency of the platelet membrane glycoprotein (GP) Ib/IX complex. In the present studies, we have used an intragenic restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) for Taq I in the GPIb alpha gene to study linkage between this gene and the inheritance of BSD in a family with two affected siblings. Whereas the proband was heterozygous, showing both the 0.7 and 4.0 kb bands of this polymorphism (A/B), her affected brother was homozygous for the 0.7 kb band (A/A). Accordingly, these siblings did not inherit the same pair of GPIb alpha alleles from their parents. Additionally, one child of the proband was A/A, while the second studied child was A/B, with neither showing any evidence of BSD. No construct of heterozygosity or homozygosity for GPIb alpha alleles in this family is consistent with a model in which one or more defective GPIb alpha alleles could produce BSD. RFLP analysis with BamHI or HindIII showed entirely normal patterns in the patients, indicating the absence of any gross deletion of the GPIb alpha gene. GPIb alpha mRNA from patient platelets was reverse transcribed and subsequently amplified by the polymerase chain reaction, demonstrating the presence of GPIb alpha transcript. Furthermore, trace amounts of GPIb could be shown on the surface of patient platelets. Based on these results, a defect in the GPIb alpha gene is unlikely to be the cause of BSD in this family.