Background: The human dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) is a candidate gene of great interest in molecular studies of human personality and psychiatric disorders. This gene is unique in having an exceptionally high amount of polymorphic sites both in the coding and in the promoter region. Results: We report the identification of a new 27 bp deletion starting 524 bp upstream of the initiation codon (27 bp del) of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene, in the close vicinity of the -521C>T SNP. The presence of the 27 bp deletion leads to the misgenotyping of the -616C>G SNP by the Sau96 1 RFLP method, thus the genotype determination of the mutation is of additional importance. The frequency of this novel sequence variation is considerably low (allele frequency is = 0.16%), as no homozygotes, and only 3 heterozygote carriers were found in a healthy, unrelated Caucasian sample (N = 955). Conclusion: Remarkably, the deleted region contains consensus sequences of binding sites for several known transcription factors, suggesting that the different alleles may affect the transcriptional regulation of the gene. A comparison of methods and results for the allelic variations of the DRD4 gene in various ethnic groups is also discussed, which has a high impact in psychiatric genetic studies.
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